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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014
 

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2007 Latin Salutatory Oration

Delivered in Latin by Maya Maskarinec
(English translation)

Given in the Academic Assembly of Princeton
In New Jersey on the Fifth of June
In the Year 2007
In the 260th Academic Year

Stutter, Muse, stutter, for I greet friends and enemies, the elite -- if any remain -- and the masses in vast number.

As we prepare to scale the walls that surround us and escape into the many worlds that await us, or for the more practically minded, walk through the open FitzRandolph Gate, it is appropriate that we should cast our gaze back to that most hallowed of institutions in which we have squandered our days and years; I refer, of course, not to Princeton University, but to the library of Firestone. 

Fearing lest the library should lose its books, as silly parchment plans of architects foretell, or its labyrinthine layers of books should lose their place on the tongues of men, I have decided to prove its worth by sharing the recent discovery of papyrus fragments that seem to constitute some sort of prophetic text.

The beginning of the text is corrupt: As far as I am able to reconstruct it, it refers to the well-known plagues of Princeton, when hordes of cicadas descended, laying waste to all that they met, consuming nearly finished papers, Frist pizzas and Bent Spoon ice cream. When the uncorrupted text begins, it reads as follows:

"And all the ancient gods, like the squirrel population departed from Princeton, leaving it in the hands of its administrators, who like President Tilghman and Dean Malkiel spend their days tirelessly watching for omens of future success or the gifts of alumni.

"And the parents, having abandoned their young upon the campus, watched as the departments of Slavic languages, Near Eastern studies, and ecology and evolutionary biology carried them off -- oh, beware, lest in coming years this civilized Latin speech be given in Coptic, Tocharian or Mayan.

"And the professors were perched like vultures upon columns eager to swoop down upon the students who failed to compose polished theses.

"But the students had long neglected the ancient festivals of this institution, no longer wading deep in generous libations of the ambrosia of the gods.

"And so each spring, aging hordes shall return  to drink with feigned revelry within imprisoned stalls and empty their pockets to build more halls.

"And a sacrificial speaker shall mount this podium and read these lines amid struggling declension and linguistic incomprehension."


Here the text breaks again, but I will venture an emendation: "The past will remain with us while the future awaits us each new day: Let us salute it in ever a new way."

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