12. AURELIUS COTTA MESSALLINUS, a son of the orator Messalla, who was adopted into the Aurelia gens.
In the reign of Tiberius, with whom he was on terms of intimacy, he made himself notorious for the gratuitous harshness and animosity with which he acted on several occasions.
This drew upon him an accusation of the most illustrious senators in A. D. 32, for having spoken disrespectfully of Tiberius; but the emperor himself sent a written defence to the senate, which of course procured his acquittal. Tacitus characterises him as nobilis quidem, sed egens ob luxum et per flagitia infamis.
(Plin. Nat. 10.27
; Tac. Ann. 2.32
On coins of the Aurelia gens we find the names of M. Cotta and L. Cotta, but there are no means of identifying them with any of the preceding persons. Of the two coins annexed the obverse of the former represents the head of Pallas, the reverse Hercules in a biga drawn by two centaurs ; the obverse of the latter represents the head of Vulcan with forcipes behind him, the reverse an eagle standing on a thunderbolt.