In the Twelve Tables it was declared
“qui se sierit testarier, libripensve fuerit, ni testimonium
fateatur, improbus intestabilisque esto” (Gel. 15.13.11
; cf. id. 6.71, 7.7.4). According to this passage,
a person who had been a witness on any solemn occasion, such as the making
of a will by mancipium, and afterwards refused to give his testimony, was
that is, disqualified from
being a witness on any other occasion.
Thus, in the Twelve Tables and in subsequent law, a person was said to be
who was incapable of being a
witness to a solemn legal transaction. (Dig. 28
: “Quum lege
quis intestabilis jubetur esse, eo pertinet, ne ejus testimonium
recipiatur.” Inst. Just. 2.10
: “Neque mulier, neque impubes . . . nec cui
bonis interdictum est, nec is quem leges jubent improbum intestabilemque
esse, possunt in numero testium adhiberi:” cf. Hor. Sat.
The word had its meaning extended in the time of the Emperors, being used to
express one who could not summon witnesses to attest his will; that is to
say, one who was incapable of making a will (Dig.
2.10, 6). The punishment of
declaring an offender intestabilis was imposed by various statutes: e. g. by
the Lex Cornelia injuriarum, the Lex Julia de adulteriis, the SC. Augusti de
famosis libellis. (Marezoll, Von der bürgerl. Ehre,
p. 85 ff.; Burchardi, de Infamia,
Lehrbuch der Geschichte d. R. R.
2.15, 107; Voigt,
Die Zwölf Tafeln,
1.27, n. 5.)