"With one hand he returns the , symbol of power as appointed dictator of Rome. His other hand holds the plow, as he resumes the life of a citizen and farmer."
"With one hand he returns the fasces, symbol of power as appointed dictator of Rome. His other hand holds the plow, as he resumes the life of a citizen and farmer."
For other uses of this name, see Cincinnatus

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (b. c.519 BC) was a Roman consul in 460 BC and dictator twice, in 458 BC and 439 BC. He was one of the heroes of early Rome and a model of old Roman virtue and simplicity. As a persistent opponent of the plebeians, he resisted the proposal of Terentilius Arsa to draw up a code of written laws applicable equally to patricians and plebeians. He lived in humble circumstances, working on his own small farm. His career has become so tied up in legend that extracting actual events is nearly impossible.


Cincinnatus' first term as dictator began when the Aequi tribe from the east and the Volscians from the southeast began to menace Rome. The Roman Senate pleaded with Cincinnatus to assume the mantle of dictator in order to save the city.

According to analysts, Cincinnatus had settled into a life of farming and knew that his departure might 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 Volscians. 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 again during his second term as dictator (439 BC) to put down a revolt by the plebians.


Named in his honor are the town of Cincinnato, Italy and the American Society of the Cincinnati (for which the city of Cincinnati, Ohio was named). George Washington, General of the American Revolution and the first President of the United States, was considered a latter-day Cincinnatus; he did not seek political power after winning the Revolutionary War in 1783, and even after being elected President, he retired permanently after two terms of office.


  • Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, iii. 26-29
" was determined that a dictator should be appointed to retrieve their shattered fortunes, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was appointed by universal consent.
It is worth while for those persons who despise all things human in comparison with riches, and who suppose that there is no room either for exalted honour, or for virtue, except where riches abound in great profusion, to listen to the following..."
Project Gutenberg version of Ab Urbe Condita (

it:Cincinnato la:Cincinnatus pl:Lucjusz Kwintus Cincinnatus fi:Cincinnatus sv:Cincinnatus


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