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Lucius (Titus) Quinctius Cincinnatus

(b. c.519 BC)

In 458 BCE (according to tradition), Cincinnatus, who had been consul in 460 BCE, was plowing his fields when messengers arrived to tell him he had been named dictator to defend the city against the Aequi and the Volscians. He took up the supreme command, defeated Rome's enemies, freed the beseiged consul Minucius, and returned to his farm, all within 16 days. Further, he refused the honors that came with his military victories. Legend says he was named dictator a second time in 439 BCE, but there is no foundation for this story.

George Washington was sometimes called an American Cincinnatus because he too held his command only until the defeat of the British and, at a time when he could have chosen to exercise great political power, instead returned as soon as he could to cultivating his lands. After the end of the Revolutionary War, a group of former officers in the (now) American army formed The Society of the Cincinnati, taking the name from the Roman general. The city of Cincinnati was named after this organization, and a statue of Cincinnatus stands there today.

Pictured below is the Order of Cincinnatus in the shape of an eagle with the image of Cincinnatus on its breast. The motto of the Order reads: Omnia relinquit servare Republicam (He gave up everything to preserve the Republic.)

D. Fite, 2001.


Image courtesy of The Polish Academic Information Center <(Opens new window)

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