“Cincinnatus Receiving the Envoys From the Senate”
by Cabanel (1844)

In the Fifth Century B.C., as Rome fought the Aequians and Sabines, Cincinnatus was appointed dictator by the Roman Senate. A group was dispatched to inform him of the mandate; the delegation found him plowing his field.

Cincinnatus returned to the city, waged war triumphantly, and showed mercy toward the defeated foe. He disbanded his army, and, most significantly for history, resigned his post and returned to his farm – i.e., he didn’t cling to power. He was regarded by George Washington as a model for virtuous service to the state.