In his farewell speech, Boris Johnson compared himself to Cincinnatus, a figure who “returned to his plow”, apparently assuming that he would quietly return to the back benches.
However, what Johnson who studied classics at the university of Oxford, not included in his speech was that while the Roman statesman Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus is said to left Rome for pastoral existence on his farm, he was later called to return to Rome and lead like a dictator.
This detail was immediately picked up by commentators and historians such as Tom Holland and Andrew Neal:
Satirist Armando Iannucci said, “Johnson expects to be called back. Cincinnatus was recalled from the plow to become the leader of Rome a second time. Someone tell people with microphones in Downing Street.
Historian Mary Beard points out what about Cincinnatus cause was against in common citizens called plebeians. He was in fact “enemy of in people”.
Cincinnatus may have been Johnson’s huge boast. up as a sample of civic virtue and outstanding leadership, in part because of its fast success and immediate resignation of almost absolute power as a dictator after he returned to Rome from his farm.
According to Britannica:
Nucleus of tradition holds that in 458 Cincinnatus was appointed dictator. of Rome in to save the consular army, which was surrounded by Aequi on Mount Algid. At that time of his appointment he worked small farm. They say he won enemy in one day and celebrated the triumph in Rome. Cincinnatus retained his power only until Rome emerged from the emergency. He then retired and returned to his farm.
And, perhaps in a comparison that Johnson did not welcome, Cincinnatus was also codename used by whistleblower Edward Snowden when he first contacted then Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald to report story.