The Story of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
By Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia
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 upon 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, and who did not want power. He did not want the power thrust upon him, but he willingly gave up the power.