Maiestas is short for maiestas minuta populi Romani, 'the diminution of the majesty of the Roman people', a crime first introduced by L. Appuleius Saturninus in the lex Appuleia c. 103 B.C. The charge was vague enough that it could cover a variety of actions, including failure in one's duty or revolt. It was reworked by Sulla in his lex Cornelia maiestatis of 81 B.C. Later, Caesar revised it, making the main punishment for maiestas banishment. Under the emperors it came to cover not only treason and conspiracy, but also libel and slander, with the case presented to the senate. Under Tiberius, the usual punishment was death and confiscation of property, rather than exile.
- John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon and Andrew William Lintott "maiestas" The Oxford Classical Dictionary.