Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
Roman general, Statesman,& Farmer
Cincinnatus handing the rods of power back to the city fathers
I have never liked the Romans. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not a racist, classist, sexist or anything with an "ist" on it, except maybe a humanist, and in this case, being a humanist is probably a good thing. Generally speaking, the Romans were violent, sadistic, and cruel people. Maybe it was just the times when morals meant very little, or that the Roman emperors had too much power and way too much time on thier hands. I once thought of every Roman that way until I heard and read of a man named Cincinnatus.
About 5 yrs ago, I bought a book called "The Book of Virtues" by William Bennett, who was the Secretary of Education under President Reagan. This book is an absolute treasure, and I think that this book should be in every home. That notwithstanding, I came across a little story about Cincinnatus. I became intrigued and soon, I was searching the Internet day and night about items and tidbits about Cincinnatus.
I learned that 1) Cincinnatus was one Roman who was not power mad, and 2) not full of any of those wonderful Roman virtues that I pointed out earlier. Personally, I think all he wanted was to live in peace and harmony with his fellow man.
There was still more information to be had. Next stop: The Senate. I already knew that Robert Byrd was an authority on the Romans and the Roman Senate, so I figured it shouldn't be too hard. I started watching C-SPAN, and plodding through a lot of crud, I mean, the Senate, God love em pumps out a lot of worthless crap on any given day. It is a wonder that our country is in the shape it's in. I just wish that they would start addressing real issues instead of what they do now. I started surfing, and on one particular day, I came across Sen Byrd talking about Fast Track and all that. It wasn't particularly interesting until he uttered the word "Cincinnatus". Then I became intensely interested.
It came and went so quickly that I didn't have a chance to grab the remote and start the VCR. During other, unrelated searches, I learned that the Congressional Record gets added to the web every single day as a matter of law. Now we don't have to subscribe, and pay the GPO some outrageous amount just for knowing what useless stuff the Senate and House did on one particular day. I gave it 2 weeks, since the people who post the Record to the web have a certain lag time.
I found the following on the web and downloaded it. I am placing it here, because Sen. Byrd does a much better retelling of Cincinnatus' story than I could ever hope to do. One of these days, I will get around to reading his mammoth work on the Roman Senate, yeah, right after all the books on the 3000 plus "to be read" list.
By Senator Robert Carlysle Byrd (D-WV)
Oh, that we could review again the story of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, who in the year 458 B.C. was called upon by a delegation from the Roman senate. And upon inquiring why this delegation had come to him to interrupt his plowing of his small farm of three acres alongside the Tiber River, he was informed that the senate had decided to thrust upon him the power of a dictator so that he could rid Rome of the threat of certain tribes to the east, the Aequians. And being the loyal patriot that he was, Cincinnatus turned to his wife Racilia and said, `We may not have enough food to live on this winter because we won't be able to sow our fields.' Nevertheless, he wiped his perspiring forehead, took on the regalia of a dictator, and loyally assumed the responsibilities and duties that the Roman senate had placed upon him. He rid the city of Rome of the threats, and he relieved the Roman legions that were being surrounded by the armies of the tribes to the east. Within 16 days, he had accomplished this mission. And he turned back the powers of dictatorship. So there was the old-fashioned model of simplicity, the old-fashioned model of one who did not seek power, who did not want power. He did not want the power thrust upon him, but he willingly gave up this power.
I have recieved a lot of positive feedback from this page. The one thing I keep hearing is how there is so little about Cincinnatus, and a lot of stuff about Claudius, Nero, Julius, Caligula, Hadrian et al. I am reviled that A&E would do bios of these evil men, and not one word about one who could have been one of the worst and turned out to be perhaps THE one Roman emperor that actually did something positive. Until that day happens this page in one form or another will be here.
A brief history of the City of Cincinnati
There is an excellent web site dedicated to the public art in Cincinnati. It can be found by clicking on this link
My friend, Barry Elliot, took the picture of Cincinnatus on the top of this page. I appreciate him letting me use his photo for this page.
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I'll be doing a major upgrade of this page in the coming weeks. Thanks for your patience, and for stopping by.