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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Cincinnatus, Lucius Quinctius

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CINCINNATUS, Lucius Quinctius, a patrician belonging to the earliest period of the Roman republic: b. about 519 B.C. The legend which makes him the beau-ideal of the virtuous Roman is as follows: The Romans of his day were weakened by dissensions between the patricians and plebeians; the warlike Æquians, after making harassing incursions into their territory, succeeded at last in surrounding the Roman army under the consul Minucius in the wooded grounds of Mount Algidus. In despair the Roman senators went to Cincinnatus, offering him the dictatorship. The messengers found him at the plow. Reluctantly he accepted the office. He succeeded in rescuing the army from its perilous position, and marched to Rome laden with the spoils of victory. He then returned to his farm, whence he was again called, at the age of 80, to resume the dictatorship, to oppose the machinations of Spurius Mælius, and prevent a civil war between the upper and lower classes, which he succeeded in doing.