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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The Theory and Practice of Cosmic Ascent: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches

Trinity College, Dublin
19-20 June, 2020

Conference Sponsors: Trinity College Department of Classics, and The Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition, Trinity College, Dublin

Conference Organisers: Professor John Dillon (Emeritus, Trinity College, Dublin) and Nicholas Banner (Trinity College, Dublin) 

Date:  19-20 June, 2020
Submission Deadline:  13 March, 2020
Confirmation Date:  01 April, 2020

One of the most striking tropes in the history of western thought is the account of cosmic ascent; we find narratives of humans ascending to the stars and beyond in a vast array of sources from among the earliest written accounts of western literature, through antiquity, and up to (at least) the High Middle Ages. From the Hellenistic period onward, Mediterranean religions and philosophies (understood broadly) looked increasingly to a model of human ascent as a primary locus for spiritual achievement; however, the ways in which such ascent was conceptualized vary enormously from tradition to tradition (we might compare e.g. Jewish apocalyptic texts with the ascent-accounts of Platonist philosophers, or Hermetic with Sethian ascent-accounts), and even from thinker to thinker (we might contrast e.g. Plutarch with Plotinus or St Paul with Clement of Alexandria). 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 01/14/2020 - 9:31am by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers
Sapiens Ubique Civis VIII – Szeged 2020
PhD Student and Young Scholar Conference on Classics and the Reception of Antiquity
Szeged, Hungary, September 2–4, 2020

The Department of Classical Philology and Neo-Latin Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Szeged, Hungary is pleased to announce its International Conference Sapiens Ubique Civis VIII – Szeged 2020, for PhD Students, Young Scholars, as well as M.A. students aspiring to apply to a PhD program.

The aim of the conference is to bring together an international group of young scholars working in a variety of periods, places, languages, and fields. Papers on a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to the literature, history, philology, philosophy, linguistics and archaeology of Greece and Rome, Byzantinology, Neo-Latin studies, and reception of the classics, as well as papers dealing with theatre studies, comparative literature, contemporary literature, and fine arts related to the Antiquity are welcome.

Lectures: The language of the conference is English. Thematic sessions and plenary lectures will be scheduled. The time limit for each lecture is 20 minutes, followed by discussion. It is not possible to present via Skype.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 01/14/2020 - 9:26am by Erik Shell.

Our second interview in the Women in Classics series is with Shelley Haley, Edward North Chair of Classics and Professor of Africana Studies at Hamilton College. This is the second of a two-part interview with Prof. Haley, which picks up at the point when she decided to apply to graduate school to study Classics.

CC: How did you decide to apply to graduate school?  

This was a very turbulent time in American history. I was fed up with the United States of America, absolutely fed up. I remember the conversations we used to have about the women’s movement. This was back in the dark ages. There were three or four white women on my floor in college having a deep discussion, wringing their hands and saying, “But how, how, how are we going to have a family and a career? How?” In my head I was just frustrated. My mother, my grandmother, her mother before her, all of them always had to work, and always had family. It can be done. I think that was my first introduction to black feminism, and to the line that divides it from white feminism. I had had enough.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 01/13/2020 - 6:24am by Claire Catenaccio.

Our second interview in the Women in Classics series is with Shelley Haley, Edward North Chair of Classics and Professor of Africana Studies at Hamilton College. She was born in upstate New York and earned her B.A. from Syracuse University in 1972. She received her M.A. in 1975 and her Ph.D. in 1977, both from the University of Michigan. An expert on the figure of Cleopatra, Dr. Haley has discussed the subject on both the BBC and the Learning Channel. Her publications include Fanny Jackson Coppin’s Reminiscences of School Life, and Hints on Teaching (1995) and numerous articles on the role of women in the ancient world and on race in the discipline of Classics.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 01/09/2020 - 4:47pm by Claire Catenaccio.

“Whose Heritage is it Anyway?”: Local Responses to Cultural Heritage Preservation in the Age of UNESCO

UT Antiquities Action 2020 Annual Symposium
Keynote speaker: Yvonne Therese Holden, Director of Operations, Whitney Plantation

UT Antiquities Action invites the submission of abstracts for its 5th annual symposium, to be held on Saturday, the 4th of April, 2020 at the University of Texas at Austin. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 01/09/2020 - 9:23am by Erik Shell.

Homer in Sicily: An Academic Conference and Tour of Ancient Sites

Exedra Mediterranean Center
Syracuse, Sicily, 12-15 January, 2021
With a post-conference tour of Greek Sicily, 16-18 January

Homeric Thrinacia – our Sicily – is the legendary home of the Cattle of the Sun, the Cyclops, the Laestrygonians, Aeolus, and close neighbor of Skylla and Charybdis. Samuel Butler, in the nineteenth century, memorably theorized that the Odyssey’s author was a young Sicilian woman, glimpsed in the figure of Nausicaa. Otherwise, surprisingly few scholars have explored Sicily’s association with the Homeric epics, the Odyssey in particular. The goal of this conference is to bring scholars from a variety of disciplines to Siracusa to discuss Homer’s epic vision and to visit the archaeological traces of the mythic places and beings of the Odyssey.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 01/09/2020 - 9:00am by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Joan and Mason Brock Theatre, Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, 5817 Wesleyan Drive, Virginia Beach, VA

Fri 2/7/20 7:30pm to 9:30pm

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Thu, 01/09/2020 - 8:30am by Erik Shell.

The SCS Board of Directors has endorsed the following statement developed by the American Anthroplogical Association in collaboration with a number of other societies and associations:

Targeting Cultural Sites is a War Crime

On behalf of more than 50,000 scholars and researchers in the humanities and social sciences, our scholarly and professional societies call upon people throughout the US and, indeed, around the world to remind the President of the United States that targeting cultural sites for military activity is a war crime except under the narrowest of circumstances, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.

View full article. | Posted in Public Statements on Tue, 01/07/2020 - 10:21am by Helen Cullyer.

Graduate Student Caucus Meeting

Hosted by the SCS Graduate Student Committee

Friday, January 3, 5:00pm-6:00pm, Independence Ballroom Salon C

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Come hear about the Graduate Student Committee’s plans for 2020 and offer your feedback on how best the SCS can serve graduate students.

We hope this meeting can be the springboard for a new level of collective action of North American Classics graduate students.

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This event will be followed by a Social Hour, also hosted by the Graduate Student Committee, which will take place Friday, January 3, 7:00pm-8:00pm on the Mezzanine Level of the Marriott Marquis. Come get your drink ticket while they last!

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 12/31/2019 - 4:16pm by Helen Cullyer.

That contingent faculty members make up a significant portion of those teaching on college campuses today is a well-known fact. This fact also holds true in our own fields of study (e.g. Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology and Art History), and over the years much attention has (rightfully) been paid to the many challenges and problems that stem from this reliance on contingent labor. At the same time, and despite these challenges and problems, contingent faculty members have been making important contributions to our fields in the areas of service, teaching, outreach and research, and these contributions have only grown in their significance as the number of scholars working in these positions has grown. As members of the Committee on Contingent Faculty, we believe it is time to acknowledge these contributions and celebrate the accomplishments of faculty who are working off the tenure track in our related fields. While we continue to search for solutions to the problems of contingency and advocate for those in precarious positions, we think it is equally important to bring visibility to some of these exceptional members of our scholarly community. To that end we seek to publish a series of individual profiles/interviews on the SCS blog over the course of the next year featuring some of our NTT colleagues at various stages in their careers, who are making a difference and making their mark in our discipline.

View full article. | Posted in on Tue, 12/31/2019 - 1:50pm by Chiara Sulprizio.

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