Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Cincinnatus
Jump to navigation Jump to search
CINCINNATUS, the hero of one of the early Roman legends, was born about 519 B.C. According to the story, he was ruined by the fine which was imposed on his son Cæso for the murder of a plebeian during the commotions caused by the introduction of a bill by Terentilius Arsa. This measure, which proposed the creation of a code of written laws applicable to plebeian and patrician alike, was also strongly opposed by Cincinnatus himself. Cincinnatus is, in fact, the type of the ancient patrician agriculturist. Twice he was called from the plough to the dictatorship of Rome. On the first occasion his task was to save the army from the Æquians and Volscians, who had forced it into a position of imminent danger; and he is said to have raised an army and defeated the enemy within a single day (458). On his return he summoned Volscius, the accuser of his son, to take his trial on a charge of perjury; but Volscius fled from the city. On the second occasion (439) he was appointed by the patricians, in order to crush Spurius Mælius, who had spent his wealth in relieving the wretched debtors, and who was consequently accused of desiring popularity that lie might seize the supreme authority. Mælius, refusing to appear before the dictator, was killed by Ahala, the master of the horse.