CATULUS, the name of a distinguished family of ancient Rome of the gens Lutatia. The following are its most important members.
1. Gaius Lutatius Catulus, Roman commander during the First Punic War, consul 242 B.C. He was sent with a fleet of 200 ships to Sicilian waters, and almost without opposition occupied the harbours of Lilybaeum and Drepanum. A hurriedly equipped fleet sent out from Carthage under Hanno was intercepted by the praetor Publius Valerius Falto and totally defeated (battle of the Aegates Islands, March 10, 241). Catulus, who had been wounded at Drepanum, took no part in the operations, but on his return to Rome was accorded the honour of a triumph, which against his will he shared with Valerius. (See Punic Wars: First, ad fin.).
2. Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Roman general and consul with Marius in 102 B.C. In the war against the Cimbri and Teutones he was sent to defend the passage of the Alps but found himself compelled to retreat over the Po, his troops having been reduced to a state of panic (see Marius, Gaius). In 101 the Cimbri were defeated on the Raudine plain, near Vercellae, by the united armies of Catulus and Marius. The chief honour being ascribed to Marius, Catulus became his bitter opponent. He sided with Sulla in the civil war, was included in the proscription list of 87, and when Marius declined to pardon him, committed suicide. He was distinguished as an orator, poet and prose writer, and was well versed in Greek literature. He is said to have written the history of his consulship and the Cimbrian War after the manner of Xenophon; two epigrams by him have been preserved, one on Roscius the celebrated actor (Cicero, De Nat. Deorum, i. 28), the other of an erotic character, imitated from Callimachus (Gellius xix. 9). He was a man of great wealth, which he spent in beautifying Rome. Two buildings were known as “Monumenta Catuli”: the temple of Fortuna hujusce diei, to commemorate the day of Vercellae, and the Porticus Catuli, built from the sale of the Cimbrian spoils.
See Plutarch, Marius, Sulla; Appian, B.C. i. 74; Vell. Pat. ii. 21; Florus iii. 21; Val. Max. vi. 3, ix. 13; Cicero, De Oratore, iii, 3. 8, Brutus, 35.
3. Quintus Lutatius Catulus (c. 120–61 B.C.), sometimes called Capitolinus, son of the above, consul in 102. He inherited his father’s hatred of Marius, and was a consistent though moderate supporter of the aristocracy. In 78 he was consul with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who after the death of Sulla proposed the overthrow of his constitution, the re-establishment of the distribution of grain, the recall of the banished, and other democratic measures. Catulus vigorously opposed this, and a temporary compromise was effected. But Lepidus, having levied troops in his province of Transalpine Gaul, returned to Rome at the head of an army. Catulus defeated him at the Mulvian bridge and near Cosa in Etruria, and Lepidus made his escape to Sardinia, where he died soon afterwards. In 67 and 66 Catulus unsuccessfully opposed, as prejudicial to constitutional freedom, the Gabinian and Manilian laws, which conferred special powers upon Pompey (q.v.). He consistently opposed Caesar, whom he endeavoured to implicate in the Catilinarian conspiracy. Caesar, in return, accused him of embezzling public money during the reconstruction of the temple on the Capitol, and proposed to obliterate his name from the inscription and deprive him of the office of commissioner for its restoration. Catulus’s supporters rallied round him, and Caesar dropped the charge. Catulus was the last princeps senatus of republican times; he held the office of censor also, but soon resigned, being unable to agree with his colleague Licinius Crassus. Although not a man of great abilities, Catulus exercised considerable influence through his political consistency and his undoubted solicitude for the welfare of the state.
See Sallust, Catilina, 35. 49; Dio Cassius xxxvi. 13; Plutarch, Crassus; Suetonius, Caesar, 15.