11. L. Aurelius
Cotta, a brother of Nos. 9 and 10, was praetor in B. C. 70, in which year he carried the celebrated law (lex Aurelia judiciaria,
) which entrusted the judicia to courts consisting of senators, equites, and the tribuni aerarii.
The main object of this law was to deprive the senators of their exclusive right to act as judices, and to allow other parts of the Roman state a share in the judicial functions, for which reason the law is sometimes vaguely described as having transferred he judicia from the senate to the equites. P. Cornelius Sulla and P. Autronius Paetus were the consuls elect for the year B. C. 65, but both were accused by L. Aurelius Cotta and L. Manlius Torquatus of ambitus : they were convicted and their accusers were elected consuls in their stead. No sooner had they entered upon their consulship, than P. Autronius Paetus formed a plan with Catiline for murdering the consuls and most of the senators.
This conspiracy however was discovered and frustrated.
The year after his consulship, B. C. 64, Cotta was censor, but he and his colleague abdicated on account of the machinations of the tribunes. In 63, when Cicero had suppressed the Catilinarian conspiracy, in the debates upon which in the senate Cotta had taken a part, he proposed a supplicatio
for Cicero; and he afterwards skewed the same friendship for the unfortunate orator, as he was the first to bring forward in the senate a motion for the recall of Cicero from his exile. During the civil war Cotta belonged to the party of Caesar, whose mother Aurelia was his kinswoman, and when Caesar was alone at the head of the republic, it was rumoured that Cotta, who then held the office of quindecimvir, would propose in the senate to confer upon Caesar the title of king, since it was written in the libri fatales that the Parthians, against whom Caesar was preparing war, could be conquered only by a king.
After the murder of Caesar, Cotta rarely attended the meetings of the senate from a feeling of despair.
He is praised by Cicero as a man of great talent and of the highest prudence. (Ascon. in Cornel.
pp. 64, 67, 78, &c.; Cic. in Pison.
16, in Verr.
2.71, in P. Clod.
7, de Leg. Agr.
2.17, in Catil.
2.6, pro Dom.
26, 32, pro Sext.
34, ad Att.
12.21, de Leg.
3.19, ad Fam.
12.2; Suet. Jul. 79
; Liv. Epit. 97
; Vell. 2.32
; Corn. Nep. Attic.
4; Plut. Cic. 27
. Comp. Orelli, Onom. Tull.
ii. p. 90.)