Reading about the French Revolution in the fine book, "Europe: A History" by Norman Davies, I was stuck by the description of the Jacobin phase of the French Revolution. This period and government had most of the aspects of a totalitarian system: revolutionary ideology, need for expansion, an endless stream of victims for terror, systems of spies and informers, "laws" that made everyone a criminal, rule by a core elite or one man, etc.
I was surprised how well that period fit Hannah Arendt's description of Totalitarianism. So far I'm unable to come up with earlier examples of Totalitarianism. If anyone has suggestions, I'd appreciate them.