"You will be our Cincinnatus, fetched from his plough to save the country from disaster."
Cincinnatus gives up his position as dictator, painting by Juan Antonio Ribera - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
was a legendary Roman aristocrat who was called from his farm to hold the position of dictator, in order to save the city from the threat of attacking tribes. As soon as the threat had been dealt with, Cincinnatus resigned the dictatorship and returned peacefully to the land. He was later called once more to be dictator in order to put down a plebeian rebellion; again, he gave up the position as soon as the danger had passed. Cincinnatus represented the Roman ideal of humility and patriotism, of a leader who would give up supreme power for the sake of Rome rather than seek to further his own personal ambitions. As such, the image of Cincinnatus was an incredibly powerful one to evoke in Roman politics.