The salutatory address is the University’s oldest student honor and is traditionally given in Latin. In the days when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin, the salutatio was a formal, serious address. It has evolved to become a farewell to Princeton campus life with humorous tributes and recollections.
Habita in Comitiis Academicis Princetoniae ante diem IX Kal. Iu.
Anno Academiae CCLXXV
Discipulos recano, qui primi Princetoniaeque
Caesariaeque Novae crocea a bulla patriam atque
litora nota domum, fato profugi, venerunt,
multum illi caelumque viasque peragrati vi
aestus mortiferi morbi saevique Coronae
donec vaccinationem physici reperirent
terrarumque vacationem inferrent inde orbi.
Congregemus unum nos in locum, dilectissimi sodales, etiamnunc a crudeli viro disclusi sed non iam interclusi. Canamus uniter res in umbra turrium hedera obsitarum gestas, quas aulae priscae et hunc in annum et pluris resonent.
Bis ignes cumulavimus altaribus festos, ut victoriam nostram de harpasti americani lusoribus vestitu coccineis et caeruleis celebraremus. Per trium semestrium intervallum vitra electrica tuiti sumus sicut Specularii, ut rerum naturam quaereremus. Itinera numero carentia asperos per ventos in pavimentis imbribus inundatis fecimus cenulam a cibo sero aut Wawa desiderantes. Quorum memores postea multis cum lacrimis cibum frigidum de vasibus conchae similibus edimus.
Discessus noster ab illo campo nobis eripuit non solum societatem amicorum nostrorum sed etiam delectationem in vere, cuius adventu flores horti claro prospectu emergunt et nova proles vulpis sciurique ludit per herbas tonsas campi pillamallei. Hodie autem vere amoeno Princetoniae frui possumus. Nunc decet viridi academicum caput impedire hedera aut flore croceo. Nunc decet cum amicis diem carpere. Gaudeamus igitur, sodales, recordatione dulci, laetitiis praesentibus, et rerum aenigmate futurarum.
Sic paene fatus est poeta sapiens:
O fortes peioraque passi
mecum saepe tigres, nunc vino pellite curas;
cras ingens iterabimus aequor.
Given in the Academic Assembly of Princeton University on the 24th of May
In the year 2022
In the 275th Year of the University
I sing of students, who, exiled by fate, first came homeward to their own lands and familiar shores from the orange bubble of Princeton, New Jersey. They traversed the sky and roads far and wide due to the seething power of the deadly disease, the remorseless coronavirus, until scientists could discover a vaccine and spread immunity across the globe.
Let us gather together in one place, dearest comrades, still distanced by the cruel virus, but no longer isolated. Let us sing together of deeds performed in the shadow of ivy-covered towers, so that they may echo in these ancient halls for this year and many more.
Twice we have heaped the altars with festal fires to celebrate our victory over the football players clad in crimson and blue. For three semesters we stared at electric screens, just like crystal gazers, to investigate the nature of the world. We have taken innumerable journeys through harsh winds on rain-flooded pavements because we longed for a snack from late meal or the Wa. Later, remembering these things, we wept many a tear as we ate cold food from clamshell containers.
Our departure from this campus not only deprived us of the fellowship of our friends but also of the enjoyment of spring, at whose arrival the flowers in Prospect Gardens emerge and the new offspring of the fox and the squirrel play on the close-cropped grass of the golf course. Today, however, we can delight in Princeton’s lovely spring. Now it is fitting to crown our scholarly heads with green ivy or with orange flowers. Now it is fitting to seize the day with our friends. Companions, let us therefore rejoice in sweet recollection, present joys, and the mystery of things to come.
As a wise poet has said, more or less:
O strong tigers who, by my side, have often suffered worse things than these, now dispel your cares with wine: tomorrow we will traverse the immense deep.