Association internationale de Papyrologues

International Association of Papyrologists

In memoriam Brinley (Bryn) Roderick REES


Discours prononcé durant l'Assemblée Générale de l'AIP réunie à Ann Arbor le 4 août 2007
Speech delivered during the General Assembly of the AIP gathered in Ann Arbor on August 4th, 2007
par - by: J. David THOMAS
(lu par - read by: Alan K. BOWMAN)

It is doubtful whether there will be anyone in this room who knew Bryn Rees personally, though his name will be known to everyone for his substantial contributions to papyrological studies. Foremost among these is his work as one of the editors of P. Merton II and sole editor of P.Hermopolis (sometimes known as P.Herm.Rees). In addition his articles on the curator and defensor civitatis in the fourth century, though written over 50 years ago, are still regularly quoted today. He did not pursue his work in this area, soon turning to other aspects of classical studies. Thus, while his first inaugural lecture in 1960, entitled 'The Use of Greek', was very much concerned with the value of papyrological studies, his second, ten years later, was on Aristotle's Poetics and Milton's Samson Agonistes; and he subsequently devoted his researches primarily to the works of Pelagius. The area of his work of which he would probably have been most proud was that which involved making Greek accessible to those who had not had a classical education (he was joint-author of Lampas: a new approach to Greek). He was President of the Classical Association of England and Wales in 1978-9.

Rees had a very distinguished career. His first chair was as Professor of Greek at Cardiff from 1958-70, and his second as Professor of Greek at Birmingham from 1970-75. He ended his career as Principal (i.e. Vice-Chancellor) of St David's College, Lampeter, taking early retirement in 1980. He then moved back to Cardiff where he remained an active member of the Classics Department for a number of years, in particular helping with undergraduate teaching. Teaching was always his first love (he had begun his career as a school teacher), but he showed considerable talent for administration and this came to take up more and more of his time. He died at Cardiff in late 2004 at the age of 85.

If I may, I should like to end on a personal note, since my own career owes more to Rees than to any other single person. We overlapped briefly at Aberystwyth, and when Rees left for another post, he suggested that I should consider taking up papyrology as my research interest. He not only introduced me to Sir Harold Idris Bell, so that I was able to become his pupil as Rees had before me, but gave up his right to publish the third volume of the Merton papyri in my favour and arranged for the papyri to be transferred from Dublin for me to work on them. He supervised my doctorate and, above all, he gave me constant advice and encouragement when I was a beginner in papyrology; I was and am most grateful for his wise guidance. Indeed, I owe him more than I can say. If it had not been for Rees I should not have become a papyrologist and my career would have taken a quite different turn.