Dioskoros of Aphrodité and the Law. Studies on Legal Consciousness in the Late Antiquity

One of the most interesting questions of the modern Romanistic studies is the problem of the accessibility and applicability of the Justinian’s codification in practice. This project, financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (grant nr 0412/B/H03/2007/33) and directed by Dr Jakub Urbanik aims at providing possible answers this issue.

The object of the study, the archives associated with this 6th cent. AD bilingual poet and notary who spent his life between Aphrodité and Antinoopolis, travelling at least once to the Imperial Capital as well, include more than six hundred of Coptic and Greek documents. These papyri constitute an excellent source material to study of late-antique legal practice. They show how a relatively tiny community in the Middle Egypt could participate in the fates of the Byzantine Empire, how much the imperial social and legal customs were mirrored at a local level. A law historian researching the Dioskoros’ Archives pursues the answers to the first question of juristic papyrology, that is how much impact imperial regulations had on the every-day legal practice of the papyri. In this case we deal with an excellent and unique data-base. Firstly, we have at our disposal a relatively homogenous collection of documents (they all come from the same source and from the same community, many of them are directly related to Dioskoros himself or his extended family) which at the same time is very ample and varied by the types of deeds therein present. Secondly, all documents come from the times in which – at least theoretically – there should be one unified legal order in force: Dioskoros was professionally active after Justinian’s codification. Thirdly, Dioskoros was an educated man, he belonged to a very special part of the Egyptian society: the local Coptic elite, hence his papers provide for better understanding of the intercultural exchanges in the Late Antiquity. He studied – at least on the middle  level –, and probably later also taught,  literature, grammar and most certainly law. The legal aspect of Dioskoros’ archives has not been thoroughly studied yet. The project is intended as interdisciplinary and will result in better understanding and popularisation of these important papyrological sources among the historians of Late Antiquity. 
The research granted is foreseen for the years 2007-2011.

Added: 25.10.2007 10:48:48 has Last actualized: 25.10.2007 10:48:48