CincinnatusLucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
was Roman consul
in 460 BC
twice, in 458 BC
and 439 BC
. His first term as dictator began when Rome
was being menaced by the Aequi
tribe from the east and the Volscians from the southeast. The Roman Senate
pleaded with Cincinnatus to assume the mantle of dictator to save the city.
The career of Cincinnatus has become so tied up in legend that extracting actual events is impossible. According to the annalists, Cincinnatus had settled into a life of farming and knew that his departure could mean starvation for his family if the crops went unsown in his absence. He assented to the request anyway and within sixteen days had defeated the Aequi and the Voslcians. His immediate resignation of his absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of good leadership, service to the public good, and the virtue of modesty.
He came out of retirement during his second term as dictator (439 BC) to put down a revolt by the plebians.
The town of Cincinnato, Italy, and the city of Cincinnati, OH, USA, are named in his honor.