COTTA, GAIUS AURELIUS (c. 124-73 B.C.), Roman statesman and orator. In 92 B.C. he defended his uncle P. Rutilius Rufus, unjustly accused of extortion in Asia. He was intimate with M. Livius Drusus, who was murdered in 91. Shortly after wards he was prosecuted under the lex Varia, directed against all who had supported the Italians against Rome, and went into exile. He did not return until 82, during the dictatorship of Sulla (q.v.) . In 75 he was consul and carried a law that abolished the Sullan disqualification of the tribunes from holding higher magistracies. In 74 Cotta obtained the province of Gaul, but died suddenly on his return. According to Cicero, P. Sulpicius Rufus and Cotta were the best speakers of the young men of their time. Cotta's successes were chiefly due to his searching investigation of facts. He is introduced by Cicero as an interlocutor in the De oratore and De natura deorum (iii).
See Cicero, De oratore, iii. 3, Brutus, 49, 55, 90, 92 ; Sallust, Hist. Frag.; Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 37.
His brother, LUCIUS AURELIUS COTTA, when praetor in 7o B.C., brought in a law by which the jurors were to be chosen, not from the senators only as limited by Sulla, but from senators, equites and tribuni aerarii (see AERARII). In 66 Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus successfully accused the consuls-elect for the following year of bribery at the elections, and were chosen in their places. Cotta proposed a public thanksgiving for Cicero's services in suppressing the Catilinarian conspiracy, and after Cicero had gone into exile, maintained that the law of banishment (intro duced by Clodius, q.v.) was legally worthless. He afterwards attached himself to Caesar, and it was reported that he intended to propose that Caesar should receive the title of king. After Caesar's murder he retired from public life.
See Cicero, Orelli's Onomasticon; Sallust, Catiline, 18; Suetonius, Caesar, 79 ; Livy, Epit. 97 ; Vell. Pat. ii. 32 ; Dio Cassius xxxvi. 44, xxxvii. 1.