Text and Translation of the Latin Oration Delivered at Harvard

Delivered by Charlie Bridge (Class of 2011), a Classics Concentrator, at Harvard Commencement on May 27:

Rota Fortunae

Praeses Faust; Decani Professoresque sapientissimi; familiae, amici, et hospites honoratissimi; et tandem condiscipuli carissimi…salvete omnes!  Mihi voluptas magna atque honor altus est huius ceremoniae incipiendae in hoc theatro augusto Trecentensimo.  Nec solum conventum ultimum classis nostrae, anni duomillensimi et undecimi, sed etiam conventum trecentensimum et sexagensimum huius universitatis hodie celebramus. 

Hoc cum animadvertissem gaudebam, propter sensum singularem numeri trecenti et sexaginta.  Ne mihi quidem, litterarum antiquarum discipulo, latere potest orbem omnem in partes trecentas et sexaginta esse divisum.  Venit etiam in mentem orbis quidam praecipuus, qui vitas nostras hos quattuor annos rexit: Rota scilicet Fortunae Harvardiana.  Temporibus antiquis, rota signum erat levis mobilisque naturae fatorum – circuitus vel unus cladem felicissimis afferre atque miseros extollere potest.

Nos Harvardiani quoque mutationes fati permultas passi sumus.  Statim in anno primo repperimus custodem mensae Annenbergianae, Domnam, vel beneficium magnum vel iram inexpiabilem offerre posse, velut fortuna volebat (iram certe, si tesserarum nostrarum obliti eramus).  Prope anni illius finem, circuitus alius Rotae Fortunae decrevit domum ad quam delegati eramus.   Plurimi laetabantur, praesertim hi beatissimi qui in locum valde amoenum, Domum dico Dunsteriensem, sunt recepti.

Mox autem Rota Fortunae nos in ima desperationis saepe mersisse videbatur.  Horae somno deditae numerique nostri in Chimica Organica inferius inferiusque ceciderunt.  Universitas ipsa in malo rotae latere se invenit.  Sicut mercatus corruerunt, ita corruit dotatio nostra, olim amplissima, et nova aetas severitatis aderat.  Heu miserum indigne ientaculum calidum ademptum nobis!  Haud aliter aleatores in spectaculo illo televisifico “Rota Fortunae” subito “Perditi” fiunt.

Hoc tamen anno Rota in cursu secundo rursus volvit, atque fortunae nostrae meliores factae sunt.  Examinibus thesibusque perfectis, occupationibus (speremus!) inventis, et Yalensibus quater victis, advenimus ad tempus illud fortunatissimum – ver seniorum – et nunc hanc universitatem gratissimam deserere paramus.  Iter rotundum in Rota Fortunae Harvardiana confecimus, et hodie ubi incepimus, iterum pervenimus, eodem studio eademque materia infinita quae in congregationem primam in hoc ipso theatro attulimus.

Ne praetereamus tamen dictum Appi Claudi Caeci: “Faber est suae quisque fortunae.”  Etsi Fata impedimenta quaedam nobis coniecerunt, ea omnia superavimus adiutorio condiscipulorum familiarumque, doctrina professorum praeclarorum, et proprio labore constantiaque.  Rota Fortunae per summa Fati imaque unumquemque nostrum ferre continuabit, sed semper recordamini commutationes quas in vita nos ipsi faciemus nostro labore, et studio, et incitatione esse decernendas.  Progredimini igitur, collegae optimi, et efficite felicitatem vestram.

At nunc, amici, avete atque valete!


"Wheel of Fortune"

President Faust; wisest Deans and Professors; family, friends, and most honored guests; and finally, dearest classmates…welcome, all!  It is my great pleasure and high honor to begin the proceedings today in this venerable Tercentenary Theatre.  Not only do we celebrate today the final gathering of our class, of the year 2011, but also the 360th Commencement of this university.

I was glad when I noticed this, because of the unique significance of the number 360.  Not even I, a student of classical literature, could be unaware that a circle is divided into 360 parts.  I have in mind a very special kind of circle, which has guided our four years here: the Harvardian Wheel of Fortune.  In antiquity, the wheel was a symbol of the capricious and cyclical nature of the fates – a single spin could bring disaster upon the most fortunate and uplift the luckless.

As Harvardians, we too have endured the twists and turns of fate.  We discovered rather quickly in our first year that Domna, the guardian of Annenberg Hall, could bestow either great kindness or implacable wrath, according to fortune’s whim (certainly wrath, if we had forgotten our ID cards).  Near the end of that year, another spin of the wheel of fortune determined the house to which we had been assigned.  Most were elated, above all those blessed few who were welcomed into that most wonderful of places, Dunster House.

Soon, however, it often seemed that the Wheel of Fortune had plunged us into the depths of despair.  Our nightly hours of sleep and our grades in Orgo plummeted lower than ever.  Our fair university also found itself on the wrong side of the wheel.  Just as the markets collapsed, so did our endowment, once so mighty, and a new age of austerity was at hand.  Alas, poor hot breakfast, undeservingly wrenched away from us!  In just the same way, contestants on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show suddenly become “bankrupt.”

This year, however, the Wheel has continued to roll on its circular course, and our fortunes have taken a turn for the better once again.  With exams and theses completed, jobs (hopefully) found, and the Yalies vanquished for a fourth time, we have reached that most fortunate of times – senior spring – and now prepare to leave this dear university.  We have finished our cyclical journey on the Harvardian Wheel of Fortune, and we arrive today exactly where we began, with the same excitement and limitless potential that we brought to our first freshman gathering in this very location.

Let us not pass over, however, the axiom of Appius Claudius the Blind: “Each man is the artisan of his own fortune.”  While the fates have thrown some obstacles in our way, we have overcome them with the support of classmatesand family, with the wise instruction of our peerless faculty, and with our own hard work and persistence.  The Wheel of Fortune will continue to carry each one of us through the highs and lows of fate, but always remember that the changes we will make in the world will be determined by our hard work, our energy, and our passion.  Go forth, noble classmates, and make your own good fortune.

And now, friends, goodbye and farewell!

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"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

"Old Victories, New Voices"

Lecture and Concert Video Nancy Felson, Helen Eastman, Alex Silverman, & Live Canon Ensemble

In the fifth century B.C., Pindar of Thebes wrote odes to celebrate the victories of great athletes at the pan-hellenic games. He celebrated their prowess by re-telling the myths of ancient Greece in a way that elevated the athletes' status and suggested that they, like the heroes of old, would be glorious forever. But the mythic women had little to say. Instead, they were frequently abducted or maligned. In this lecture-concert, learn more about some of those silenced women in new music and poetry and hear some modern victory odes, including two that celebrate winners in the recent U.S. elections.

The program, which is part of our Performing Pindar Project, aired Thursday, November 19 at the University of Georgia's (virtual) Spotlight on the Arts Festival. It featured new writing by Live Canon poets, performed by members of Live Canon Ensemble, and new music by composer Alex Silverman and lyricist Helen Eastman. The original music includes ballads of Cyrene and an instrumental piece based on the meter of Pindar’s Ninth Pythian Victory Ode. This video should appeal to a wide audience of students and faculty -- anyone who welcomes creative responses to ancient poetry.

Please click on the link below anytime in the next two weeks to see the full program:

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 11/25/2020 - 2:19pm by Erik Shell.

The Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. Most of the projects funded take place in the US and Canada, though the initiative is growing and has funded projects in the UK, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ghana, and Puerto Rico. This post centers on two projects that explore the experience of studying Classics in secondary schools, and amplify the voices of Classics students during their early encounters with the field.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 11/25/2020 - 7:53am by .

On November 3, 1903, the Department of the Isthmus separated from the Republic of Colombia and became its own republic. This act ended 82 years of history between them. The reason? to allow the US to build a canal after Colombia refused to in August of that same year.

The new republic entered the twentieth century with great emotion and with the dream of finally seeing an interoceanic canal. New projects were sought, but there was also an uncertain future accompanied by the first conflicts with the Canal Zone and the United States. Which were initiated by the Hay-Bunau Varilla Treaty of 1903, as in Article 1 indicates that the US will guarantee the independence of the Republic and the right to intervene in the affairs of Panama as it is set forth in Article 136 of the 1904 Constitution. The former raised doubts, and questions not only from the neighbors countries that said that Panama was now a US a protectorate and that in fact it was not Latin American, but also by the same Panamanians that felt that way and understood it as an attack on sovereignty and as a risk on the national identity and Panamanian culture.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/16/2020 - 7:57am by .

Res Difficiles 2.0: A Digital Conference On Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity In Classics

Organizers: Hannah Čulík-Baird (Boston University) and Joseph Romero (University of Mary Washington)
Date: Saturday, March 20, 2021
Platform: Webinar

ResDiff 1.0 was timely respite in the midst of a pandemic that forced us to change whether and how we convene and exacted costs disproportionately in underserved communities by reinforcing the durable inequities that have come to define our times. What was conceived as an intimate gathering on the campus of Mary Washington for those teaching Classics was transformed into a digital event attracting 250 registrants from twelve countries. In our papers and conversations, we explored how people on the margins in our texts and contexts are invited—or pushed further from—the center, and explored avenues through with such marginalization might be addressed. Following the conference, recordings of the presentations were made available online at resdifficiles.com. Furthermore, a selection of those papers is being prepared for publication in a co-edited series of consecutive issues in Ancient History Bulletin which will start to appear in 2021.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Sun, 11/15/2020 - 1:21pm by Erik Shell.

Some months ago, a piece by Leah Mitchell and Eli Rubies on Classics and reception studies in the 21st century reiterated the importance of studying the reception of classical antiquity. It was a reminder that reception of classical material itself predates the scholarly field devoted to it.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/09/2020 - 7:29am by .

(Please Read Part I First)

Playing Cleopatra: Hollywood and Anglophone Television Castings

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 11/03/2020 - 6:02am by .

On October 11 2020, American screenwriter and producer of Greek descent Laeta Kalogridis posted this tweet:

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 11/02/2020 - 9:13am by .

Dear colleague,

You probably don’t remember the muffins.

Over the last decade, we’ve tried all kinds of messages to encourage you to support the SCS Annual Fund.  We’ve used inspirational quotes from Homer, Ovid, Plutarch, and Cavafy; we’ve included testimonials from grateful recipients of fellowships; we’ve offered matching gifts; we’ve set our text as limericks; and yes, we’ve even tried muffins as metaphors.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Wed, 10/28/2020 - 1:58pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Classics Everywhere initiative, launched by the SCS in 2019, supports projects that seek to engage communities worldwide with the study of Greek and Roman antiquity in new and meaningful ways. As part of this initiative the SCS has been funding a variety of projects ranging from reading groups comparing ancient to modern leadership practices to collaborations with artists in theater, music, and dance. Most of the projects funded take place in the US and Canada, though the initiative is growing and has funded projects in the UK, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ghana, and Puerto Rico. This post discusses a project for school-age children in rural Italy that draws attention to the ancient past through the contemporary world.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 10/28/2020 - 10:56am by .

FELLOWSHIPS FOR RESEARCH AND STUDY AT THE GENNADIUS LIBRARY 2021-2022
 

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is pleased to announce the academic programs and fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year at the Gennadius Library. Opened in 1926 with 26,000 volumes from diplomat and bibliophile Joannes Gennadius, the Gennadius Library now holds a richly diverse collection of over 146,000 books and rare bindings, archives, manuscripts, and works of art illuminating the Hellenic tradition and neighboring cultures. The Library has become an internationally renowned center for the study of Greek history, literature, and art, especially from the Byzantine period to modern times.
 

COTSEN TRAVELING FELLOWSHIP FOR RESEARCH IN GREECE: Short-term travel award of $2,000 for senior scholars and graduate students, for work at the Gennadius Library. Open to all nationalities. At least one month of residency required. School fees are waived for a maximum of two months.

DEADLINE: JANUARY 15, 2021.
 

THE GEORGE PAPAIOANNOU FELLOWSHIP: Ph.D. candidates or recent PhDs writing on Greece in the 1940’s and the post-war period, civil wars and the history of the Second World War. Fellows are required to make use of the George Papaioannou Papers housed at the Archives of the ASCSA. Open to all nationalities. School fees are waived for a maximum of two months. Stipend of €2,000. 

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Mon, 10/26/2020 - 7:23am by Erik Shell.

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