4. Q. Lutatius
Catulus, Q. F. Q. N., son of No. 3, narrowly escaped his father's fate, having been included in the same proscription. Throughout life he was distinguished as one of the prominent leaders of the aristocracy, but rose far superior to the great body of his class in purity and singleness of purpose, and received from the whole community marks of esteem and confidence seldom bestowed with unanimity in periods of excitement upon an active political leader. Being consul along with M. Aemiiius Lepidus in B. C. 78, the year in which Sulla died, he steadily resisted the efforts of his colleague to bring about a counter revolution by abrogating the acts of the dictator, and when, the following spring, Lepidus marched against the city at the head of the remnants of the Marian faction, he was defeated by Catulus in the battle of the Milvian bridge, and forced to take refuge in Sardinia, where he soon after perished in an attempt to organize an insurrection. [LEPIDUS.] Catulus, although trite to his party and his principles, denounced the corrupt practices which disgraced the senate while they possessed the exclusive right to act as judices on criminal trials; his opinion upon this subject was most unequivocally expressed when Pompeius brought forward his measure (B. C. 70) for restoring the privileges of the tribunes, and his presence as a judex upon the impeachment of Verres was probably one of the circumstances which deprived the culprit of all hope.
He came forward as an opponent of the Gabinian and Manilian laws (B. C. 67 and 66), and Cicero records the tribute paid by the populace, on the latter occasion, to his character and talents; for when, in the course of an argument against the extravagant powers which the contemplated enactment proposed to bestow upon a single individual, Catulus asked the multitude to whom they would look should any misfortune befal their favourite, the crowd, almost with one voice, shouted back the reply, that they would look to himself. When censor along with Crassus in 65, he withstood the measures of his colleague, who desired to make Egypt tributary to Rome, and so firm was each in maintaining his position, that at length both resigned without effecting anything. During the progress of the Catilinarian plot (B. C. 63), he strenuously supported Cicero, and either he or Cato was the first to hail him as " parents patriae." If we are to believe Sallust, Catulus used every effort to prevail upon Cicero to insert the name of Caesar among the conspirators, stimulated, it is said, by a recent grudge; for, when candidate for the office of chief pontiff, he had been defeated by Caesar.
That a bad feeling existed between them is clear, for the first act of Caesar when he became praetor, on the first of January, 62, was an attempt to deprive his former rival of the office of commissioner for the restoration of the Capitol, which had been destroyed by fire during the civil war (83), an appointment held by him ever since the death of Sulla.
But the optimates who were escorting the new consuls, upon hearing of the attempt, rushed in a body to the forum and by their united efforts threw out the bill. Thus the name of Catulus became connected with the Capitol and remained inscribed on the temple until it was again consumed in the reign of Vitellius.
Catulus died during the consulship of Metellus Celer, B. C. 60, happy, says Cicero, both in the splendour of his life and in having been spared the spectacle of his country's ruin.
He was not considered an orator, but at the same time possessed the power of expressing his opinions with learning, grace, and wisdom. (Orelli, Onom. Tull.
ii. p. 367, &c.; Sall. Catil.
35, 49, Frag. Histor.
i. iii.; Tac. Hist. 3.72
; Sueton. Jul.
2 ; V. Max. 6.9.5
; Plut. Crass. 13
, Cat. Min.
16; Senec. Epis/t.
97; D. C. 36.13
, calls him princeps senatus, τὰ τε πρῶτα τῆς Βουλῆς ἦν
, at the time of the Gabinian law.
See also 37.37, 46, 45.2; Orelli, Inscrip.