Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was Roman consul in 460 BC and dictator twice, in 458 BC and 439 BC. His first term as dictator began when Rome was being menaced by the Aequi tribe from the east and the Volscians from the southeast. The Roman Senate pleaded with Cincinnatus to assume the mantle of dictator to save the city. The career of Cincinnatus has become so tied up in legend that extracting actual events is impossible. According to the annalists, Cincinnatus had settled into a life of farming and knew that his departure could mean starvation for his family if the crops went unsown in his absence. He assented to the request anyway and within sixteen days had defeated the Aequi and the Voslcians. His immediate resignation of his absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of good leadership, service to the public good, and the virtue of modesty.
He came out of retirement during his second term as dictator (439 BC) to put down a revolt by the plebians.
The town of Cincinnato, Italy, and the city of Cincinnati, OH, USA, are named in his honor.