Association internationale de Papyrologues

International Association of Papyrologists

In memoriam Álvaro D'ORS


Discours prononcé durant l'Assemblée Générale de l'AIP réunie à Helsinki le 7 août 2004
Speech delivered during the General Assembly of the AIP gathered in Helsinki on August 7th, 2004
par - by: Juan CHAPA

Álvaro d'Ors died in Pamplona on the 1st of February, 2004. He was a renowned jurist and established Spanish contemporary thinker, patriarch of Roman Law in Spain and the pioneer of papyrology in this country.

D'Ors was born in Barcelona on 14th April 1915, to a family of letters and arts, of which his mother was a sculptor and his father a well-known Catalan literary figure. Ever since his adolescence, d'Ors demonstrated a great interest in classics. At the age of sixteen he spent the summer in London where the daily visits to the British Museum greatly helped to cultivate his sensitivity to the classical world. In 1932, d'Ors began his Law degree in the city of Madrid where his parents had earlier moved from Barcelona.

Towards the end of the nineteen-thirties, d'Ors was so impressed by the work of L. Mitteis that he got in contact with Leopold Wenger, very much convinced that any progress in the study of Roman Law heavily depended on papyrology and epigraphy. In 1940 faced with the impossibility of travelling to Viena, d'Ors went to Rome to work with Emilio Albertario.

During his Roman years, d'Ors wrote his doctoral thesis on the Constitutio Antoniniana of P. Giessen 40 and made the acquaintance of renowned Italian jurists like Arangio-Ruiz, Volterra and Luzzatto. All through his life d'Ors maintained a close academic link with Rome. In 1996 he was given a doctorate honoris causa by the University La Sapienza, which was added to those already conferred by the universities of Toulouse (1972) and Coimbra (1983). In 1948 d'Ors published in Madrid Introducción al estudio de los documentos del Egipto romano, the first introduction to papyrology in Spanish. Another significant contribution of those years is his work on P. Michigan 456r (+ P. Yale inv. 1158), which in 1951 he identified as the oldest fragment of Roman jurisprudence.

After obtaining the chair of Roman Law in Santiago de Compostela and due to the lack of resources in Spain, d'Ors gave up direct studies in papyrology. He focused his efforts instead on Roman Law, juridical epigraphy as well as the theory and philosophy of law. In 1961 he transferred to the University of Navarre (Pamplona) where he continued his work until his death in February of 2004.

For all of us who have dealt in one way or another with Alvaro d'Ors, he will always be remembered for being an outstanding intellect and prolific writer, master of a whole generation of Romanists and precursor of papyrology in Spain. Last but not least he will be remembered for his reputation as a dedicated university professor, Christian gentleman and exemplary father of a large and united family.