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!

Categories

Follow SCS News for information about the SCS and all things classical.

Use this field to search SCS News
Select a category from this list to limit the content on this page.

SEARCH FOR EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL OUTLOOK
 
 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:31am by Erik Shell.

Deadline Extension

We've extended the deadline for the SCS Outreach Prize to September 27, 2021.

The annual Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), a prize of $300, recognizes an outstanding project or program by an SCS member or members that makes available and accessible an aspect of classical antiquity to an audience other than Classics scholars or students at their home institutions.

You can send nomination materials to the Executive Director at xd@classicalstudies.org

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 2:39pm by Erik Shell.

Experiencing Space: Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages VIII

Tampere, August 17-19, 2022 (in person/hybrid conference)

The focus of the Passages conference series lies on society and the history of everyday life. This time we are concentrating on the social construction and experiences of space, aiming to understand how it affected social frameworks, built communities and shaped individual lives. The “Spatial Turn” has directed scholars’ interest towards the interconnection between communities, individuals and space, but larger comparisons between eras and cultures are still mainly missing. We aim to approach space as an analytical tool, “experience” offering a novel conceptual method for the study in this field.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 1:07pm by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers:

Horror vacui: Fear of Space in the Ancient World

Biennial Classics Graduate Student Conference

Conducted virtually via Zoom

New York University

November 5th, 2021

Keynote: Amy Russell (Brown University)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 4:18pm by Erik Shell.
A tan piece of paper with a pencil drawing of part of a double helix shape, comprised of lines and circles

One of the things that makes Classics exciting is its openness to new ideas and innovative approaches to the study of antiquity. For instance, classicists have been in the vanguard of the digital humanities, using new methods to curate and analyze texts (e.g. TLG, DLL, Open Greek and Latin, and so on), inscriptions (EAGLE, PHI), and papyri (papyri.info), adopting innovative GIS technologies and platforms (Pleiades, Orbis), and deploying powerful tools to unlock precious fragments of lost works. Classical archaeologists, too, have a particularly strong tradition of openness to new tools and techniques, from isotope geochemistry in the study of ancient marble to novel ways of cataloguing and quantifying material and visualizing ancient structures and sites. Vibrant subfields like bioarchaeology and zooarchaeology are inherently interdisciplinary. More broadly, ideas and approaches informed by anthropology, economics, and psychology have enriched the study of antiquity for decades.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 12:54pm by .

Res Difficiles 2022

Organizers:              Hannah Čulík-Baird (Boston University) and

Joseph Romero (University of Mary Washington)

Date:                          Friday, May 20, 2022

Abstract Deadline:  Friday, December 3, 2021

Platform:                    Webinar

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 12:24pm by Erik Shell.
A black krater vase with red-figure depicts Zeus caressing Io while Hermes slays Argus

The Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative (AnWoMoCo), launched by the SCS in 2019 as the Classics Everywhere initiative, supports projects that seek to engage broader publics — individuals, groups, and communities — in critical discussion of and creative expression related to the ancient Mediterranean, the global reception of Greek and Roman culture, and the history of teaching and scholarship in the field of classical studies. As part of this initiative, the SCS has funded 111 projects, ranging from school programming to reading groups, prison programs, public talks and conferences, digital projects, and collaborations with artists in theater, opera, music, dance, and the visual arts. The initiative welcomes applications from all over the world. To date, it has funded projects in 25 states and 11 countries, including Canada, UK, Italy, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Ghana, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and India.

This post centers on two projects that employ Greek and Roman literature in innovative ways to deal with contemporary issues. The first project draws inspiration from Euripides’ Trojan Women to facilitate the expression and sharing of intense experiences between students in the University of California and female prisoners, while the second project adapts Ovid’s Metamorphoses in a one-woman show that explores the role of women in our post #MeToo era.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/16/2021 - 11:35am by .

QUEEN: REIMAGINING POWER FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT

A virtual symposium hosted by the Gallatin School of Individualize Study

Ancient queens established a powerful public presence through visual and material culture, and their legacies continue to shape and impact the ways we express ideas about race, gender, and identity.

QUEEN: REIMAGINING POWER FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT is an interdisciplinary, virtual symposium hosted by NYU Gallatin on September 23-24, 2021. This symposium integrates scholarly and creative knowledge production from different perspectives that broaden the stakes and widen the impact of historical work. The symposium will model collaborative, critical, and public approaches to history and art by including the expertise of students, artists, performers, and educators beyond the university alongside the work of scholars and curators. Spanning two days, the symposium comprises seven panel discussions, five keynote talks, one performance, and an interactive website featuring public engagement, student work, and more.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 12:03pm by Erik Shell.

Multiple Explanations in the Ancient Greek and Roman World

Virtual seminar series, 2021-2022

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 10:19am by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers: 

XR and the Humanities: Virtual Education in the 21st Century

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 09/15/2021 - 9:16am by Erik Shell.

Pages

Latest Stories

Classics in the News
SEARCH FOR EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL OUTLOOK  
Awards and Fellowships
Calls for Papers
Experiencing Space: Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages VIII
Calls for Papers

© 2020, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy