Lucius Aurelius Cotta was a Roman magistrate, tribune of the plebs in 154 BC, and consul in 144 BC.
A member of the plebeian gens Aurelia, Cotta was elected tribune of the plebs in 154 BC. During his term as Plebeian tribune, Cotta refused to pay his debts owing to his debtors during his term as magistrate, citing the 'sanctity' of his position. His colleagues declared that they would not support him unless he agreed to pay his creditors. Around 147 BC, Cotta was elected praetor.
In 144 BC, Cotta was made the consul of Rome together with Servius Sulpicius Galba where the two entered into a dispute with the Roman senate about which would be the leader of the contemporary war against Viriathus on the Iberian Peninsula. Finally, Scipio Aemilianus proposed a decree stating that neither would lead the campaign, title which would pass to one of the proconsuls of Hispania, Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus (himself one of the consuls of 145 BC).
Afterwards, Cotta was accused by Scipio Amelianus of acts of injustice. Although it appears that Cotta may have indeed been guilty, he was absolved of any wrongdoing as the judges wanted to avoid the semblance of his condemnation due to Scipio's great influence. He was defended by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus (consul in 143 BC).
Cicero stated that Cotta was considered a veterator, saying that he was a capable man in both his business and personal life.
He had at least one son of the same name, who was also a consul in 119 BC. Through his son's daughter Aurelia Cotta, he was the great-grandfather of the famous dictator Gaius Julius Caesar and great-great-grandfather of the first Roman Emperor Augustus.
Preceded by Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus and Lucius Hostilius Mancinus
Consul of the Roman Republic with Servius Sulpicius Galba 144 BC
Succeeded by Appius Claudius Pulcher and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus