Random Useless Fact Generator
To provide for quick action in times of emergency, around 500 B.C., the Roman republic provided for a temporary king, so to speak. The senate could appoint someone to supreme control over Rome for a specified period of time, someone whose word, while he was in office, was law. For that reason, he was called a dictator, from a Latin word meaning "I have spoken." Usually, he was to hold office for six months. In 458 B.C. (according to legend), the Roman general Cincinnatus was appointed "dictator" to meet the threat of an advancing army. He marched off to war, defeated the army, returned, and resigned instantly. Cincinnatus had been dictator for sixteen days.
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