The following is part of the story behind how Cincinnati Lodge #3 got its name. Lucius Cincinnatus (520 BC-430 BC) was an aristocrat and politician of the Roman Republic, serving as Consul or a high elected official in 460 BC and Roman Dictator in 458 BC and 439 BC. He was regarded, especially by the elite patrician class, as a hero of early Rome and a model of virtue and simplicity.
While serving the empire as Consul, his son, Caeso, was arrested for preventing legislators from attending the Forum. Cincinnatus bailed his son out of jail but Caeso “skipped out” to Central Italy forcing Cincinnatus to sell most of his lands to pay a huge fine. He retired to a small farm, where he and his family subsisted by the work of their own hands.
In 458 BC, the Roman army, led by Consul Minucius Esquilinus, had been trapped by the Aequians in the Alban Hills near Rome, and were attempting to fight off a siege. A few horsemen escaped and returned to Rome and reported the events to the Senate who authorized Consul Horatius Pulvillus to nominate a Dictator for a term of six months. Horatius nominated Cincinnatus.
A Senatorial delegation was sent to inform Cincinnatus. They found him plowing his fields but after explaining the situation Cincinnatus left his farm and returned to Rome. The next morning, Cincinnatus went to the Roman Forum and nominated Lucius Tarquitius, considered one of the finest soldiers in Rome, as his Master of the Horse or his second in command.
That afternoon Cincinnatus issued an order that every man of military age report for duty by the end of the day. Once the army assembled, Cincinnatus led them to fight the Aequi at the Battle of Mons Algidus. Cincinnatus led the infantry and Tarquitius led the cavalry. The Aequi were surprised by the double attack and were cut to pieces. The commanders of the Aequi begged Cincinnatus not to slaughter them.
Not wanting to cause unnecessary bloodshed, Cincinnatus told the Aequi that he would let them live if they submitted to him and brought their leader Gracchus Cloelius and his officers to him in chains. A yoke made of three spears was set up and the Aequi had to pass under it, bowing and confessing that they had been conquered. The war ended and Cincinnatus disbanded his army. Sixteen days after he had been nominated as Dictator he resigned his dictatorship and returned to his farm.
In 439 BC, Cincinnatus was again called out of retirement to serve his country. He put down a conspiracy led by Spurius Maelius who wanted to be king. After the coup was suppressed and Maelius was killed, Cincinnatus once more resigned his commission. He was called a third time to be Dictator during a grain scandal in Rome that would have resulted in food riots. When the crisis had passed, he again resigned his commission. Thrice granted supreme power, he held onto it for not a day longer than necessary.
Like Cincinnatus, our Brother George Washington willingly served his country when called upon first during the American Revolutionary War and again as our first President. His retired generals formed the Society of the Cincinnati, an historical association founded in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War to preserve the ideals of the military officer’s role in the new American Republic. We adapted our name from the Society of the Cincinnati.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Ted J Parry, WM