Text #9229

"Roman-Latin Wars", in Wikipedia.

Livy provides the only full narrative for 380. After a failed census in Rome, the plebeian tribunes started agitating for debt relief and obstructed the enrolment of fresh legions for the war against Praeneste. Not even the news that the Praenestines had advanced into the district of Gabii deterred the tribunes. Learning that Rome had no army in the field, the Praenestine army pushed on until it stood before the Colline Gate. Alarmed, the Romans appointed T. Quinctius Cincinnatus as Dictator with A. Sempronius Atratinus as his Master of the Horse and assembled the army. In response the Praenestines withdrew to the Allia where they set up camp, hoping that memories of their earlier defeat against the Gauls at the same place would cause dread among the Romans. The Romans however recalled their previous victories against the Latins and relished the chance of wiping out previous defeats. The Dictator ordered A. Sempronius to charge the Praenestine center with the cavalry, the Dictator would then attack the disordered enemy with the legions. The Praenestines broke at the first charge. In the panic they abandoned their camp, the flight not stopping until they were within sight of Praeneste. At first unwilling to abandon the countryside to the Romans, the Praenestines established a second camp, but on the arrival of the Romans this second camp was also abandoned and the Praenestines retreated behind the walls of their city. The Romans first captured eight towns subordinated to Praeneste and then marched on Velitrae which was stormed. When the Roman army arrived before Praeneste the Praenestines surrendered. Having defeated the enemy in battle and captured two camps and nine towns, Titus Quinctius returned to Rome in triumph, carrying with him from Praeneste a statue of Jupiter Imperator. This statue was set up on the Capitol between the shrines of Jupiter and Minerva with the inscription “Jupiter and all the gods granted that the dictator Titus Quinctius should capture nine towns”. Titus Quinctius laid down his office on the twentieth day after his appointment. According to D.H. and Festus the nine towns were captured in nine days. Festus further adds that Quinctius captured Praeneste on the tenth and dedicated a golden crown weighing two and one third of a pound. D.S. also records a Roman victory in battle against the Praenestines in this year, but does not provide any details. According to Livy, the next year, 379, the Praenestines renewed hostilites by instigating revolts among the Latins; however, apart from this notice Praeneste is not mentioned again in the sources until 358.

Modern historians generally accept the core of Livy’s account of Titus Quinctius’ dictatorship and its dating to 380. Thus that he captured nine towns subordinated to Praeneste and forced the Praenestines to sue for peace is considered historical. Oakley (1998) also believes Quinctius’ victory in pitched battle could be historical, and maybe also his capture of Velitrae as well, no fighting is reported against Velitrae until 369, but this could also be a later invention. However the claims that the Praenestines marched on Rome via Gabii and the placement of the battle at the Allia are of very doubtful historicity. With regards to the discrepancies between Livy and Festus, Oakley believes that Festus, while mistaken when claiming that Praeneste was stormed, was correct in stating that T, Quinctius dedicated a crown rather than more magnificently, brought back a statue from Praeneste. Titus Quinctius Flamininus is said to have brought back a statue of Jupiter from Macedonia after his victories in the Second Macedonian War two centuries later and these two events have become then confused. This view is accepted by Forsythe (2005). Forsythe considers T. Quinctius Cincinnatus’ inscription to be origin of the more famous, but in Forsythe’s view fictitious, story of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus’ dictatorship and victory against the Aequi in 458 BC.

Text #9237

"Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus", in Wikipedia.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519–430 BC) was a Roman aristocrat and statesman whose service as consul in 460 BC and dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC made him a model of civic virtue.

Cincinnatus was regarded by the Romans, especially the aristocratic patrician class, as one of the heroes of early Rome and as a model of Roman virtue and simplicity.

Politically, Cincinnatus was a persistent opponent of attempts to improve the legal situation of the plebeians. His son Caeso Quinctius often drove the tribunes of the plebeians out from the forum, the heart of Roman political life, preventing them from reaching a formal decision. In 461 BC, these actions finally resulted in a capital charge against Caeso. After Caeso was released on bail and escaped to the Etruscans, he was condemned to death in absentia and his father had to pay an immense fine, forcing him to sell most of his lands and retire to a small farm, where he and his family were able to subsist on the work of his hands.

The following year (460), Cincinnatus was elected suffect consul. During his consulship, his main adversary was the Plebeian Tribune Gaius Terentilius Harsa. During this time period, the Roman senate was preoccupied with a war against the Volsci, a neighbouring Italic people. Cincinnatus was initially able to prevent the enactment of reforms proposed by Terentilius, who attempted to use the upheaval associated with the war effort to push them through. This was a series of reforms which were specifically to benefit the proletarii and peasantry, including a proposal to draw up a code of written laws applicable equally to patricians and plebeians — an early push for what would eventually become the Ten or Twelve Tables.

In 458 BC, the Romans were fighting the Aequi and the Sabines. The consul Minucius Esquilinus had led an army against them, but had been trapped by the Aequians in the Alban Hills and was attempting to fight off a siege. A few Roman horsemen escaped and returned to Rome to tell the senate what had happened. The senate fell into a panic and authorized the other consul for the year, Horatius Pulvillus, to nominate a dictator. Horatius nominated Cincinnatus for a dictatorial term (also known as Magister Populi or “Master of the People”) for six months.

A group of senators were sent to tell Cincinnatus that he had been nominated dictator. According to Livy, the senators found Cincinnatus while he was plowing on his farm. Cincinnatus cried out “Is everything all right?” They said to Cincinnatus that they hoped “it might turn out well for both him and his country,” and then they asked him to put on his senatorial toga and hear the mandate of the senate. He called to his wife, Racilia, telling her to bring out his toga from their cottage.

When he put on his toga, the senatorial delegation hailed him as dictator, and told him to come to the city. He then crossed the Tiber river in a boat provided by the senate, as his farm was on the far side of the river. When he reached the other side of the Tiber, he was greeted by his three sons and most of the senators. Several lictors were given to him for protection.

The next morning, Cincinnatus went to the Roman forum and nominated as his Master of the Horse (his second in command) Lucius Tarquitius, who was considered one of the finest soldiers in Rome. Cincinnatus then went to the Roman popular assembly and issued an order to the effect that every man of military age should report to the Campus Martius—the Field of Mars, god of war—by the end of the day.

Once the army assembled, Cincinnatus took them to fight the Aequi at the Battle of Mons Algidus. Cincinnatus led the infantry in person, while Tarquitius led the cavalry. The Aequi were surprised by the double attack and were soon cut to pieces. The commanders of the Aequi begged Cincinnatus not to slaughter them all.

Cincinnatus did not want to cause any unnecessary bloodshed, and told the Aequi that he would let them live if they killed three major people for him and brought their leader, Gracchus Cloelius, and his officers to him in chains. A yoke was set up, made up of three spears, and the Aequi had to pass under it in an act of submission, bowing down while confessing that they had been conquered. After this, the war ended and Cincinnatus disbanded his army. He then resigned his dictatorship and returned to his farm, a mere fifteen days after he had been nominated dictator.

He came out of retirement again for a second term as dictator (439 BC) to put down a conspiracy of Spurius Maelius, who supposedly was planning to become king. He was nominated by his old friend and relative, Titus Quinctius Capitolinus Barbatus, consul of the year. Maelius was killed immediately when the Master of the Horse was sent to bring him to trial and the incipient coup perished with him. With the crisis resolved, Cincinnatus again resigned his commission.

Within his lifetime Cincinnatus became a legend to the Romans. Twice granted supreme power, he held onto it for not a day longer than absolutely necessary. The high esteem in which he was held by his compatriots is illustrated with an anecdote from the end of his life: one of his sons was tried for military incompetence. The great Capitolinus defended him by asking the jury who would go to tell the aged Cincinnatus the news in the event of a conviction. The son was acquitted because the jury could not bring itself to break the old man’s heart.

The towns of Cincinnato, in Lazio, Italy and Cincinnatus, New York and Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States, were named in his honor.

George Washington was often compared to Cincinnatus for his willingness to give up his position as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and decline offers of near-monarchical power after the crisis of the American Revolution had passed and victory had been won, instead retiring to his farm at Mount Vernon.[9] The Society of the Cincinnati is a historical association founded in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, by officers of the Continental Army, to preserve the ideals of the military officer’s role in the new American Republic. Washington was its first president. The city of Cincinnati, Ohio was named in honor of this society.

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