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Ancient and modern

Does Cincinnatus have anything in common with Boris?

10 September 2022

9:00 AM

10 September 2022

9:00 AM

On retiring from office, Boris Johnson described himself as a sort of Cincinnatus, returning to his plough. This famous story attracted two comments from the media, both missing the point.

According to the historian Livy (c.59 bc-17 ad), when Rome’s last king, the tyrannical Tarquinius Superbus – ‘the arrogant’ – was ejected in 509 bc, those who had acted as his advisers (patricians, i.e.

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