Latin Salutatory: "De Hominis harvardiensis Decursu"

Latin Oration delivered by Pankaj Kumar Agarwalla '04

By Pankaj Kumar Agarwalla '04


Authorized English translaton follows…


Praeses Aestive, decani, professores, vos qui rem Harvardianam gubernatis; alumni, familiares, parentes, vos qui rem Harvardianam adiuvatis; et denique mei condiscipuli, vos qui rei Harvardianae cives estis: salvete!  Condiscipuli, hodie novas vitas ingredientes relinquitis haec auditoria, domos, campos Harvardianos tutos atque intimos.  Inconstantiam aetatis posterae ne timeatis, scite potius cursum vitae semper ascendere.

Enimvero apud domum Harvardianam invenimus huius orbis terrarum speciem mirabilissimam: Hominem harvardiensem.  Insignissimus ingenio scholastico, ille harvardiensis subit mutationes rapidas ut se accommodet ad duritias huius civitatis.

Primum videmus harvardiensem habilem qui plerumque invenitur in atrio Annenbergiensi et hac area Harvardiana.  Studiis inceptis ille habilis vertitur in studiosissimum doctrinarum litterarumque discendarum, atque semper animum adhibet irritandis peregrinatoribus qui se perpetuo vexant.

Altera species est eorum qui cum ingressi sint domos Harvardianas nunc superiores discipuli sibi videantur.  Quippe qui statu surgant nominantur Homines harvardienses erecti.  Hic erectus mores priscos incultosque recentis originis relinquit dum cibo meliore domorumque communitate fruitur, sed propter cados immanes bibendos, quotiens surgit totiens cadit.

Assuefactus iam hac civitate, vel surgens vel cadens erectus mutatur in tertiam speciem, harvardiensem neanderthalensem.  Qui magno cerebro densisque ossibus praeclarissimus maxime idoneus est qui hunc tertium annum saevissimum patiatur.  Ex tot noctibus in studendo atque ludendo pertractatis, illi contubernalis proxima est nomine – Insomnia.

Postremo, venimus ad summam atque perfectissimam omnium formarum – istum Hominem harvardiensem sapientem.  Qui cum sagax sit, huius sagacitas tamen nec ad quaestiones faciendas nec ad proposita scribenda pertinet.  Minime. Nam noster sapiens, laborans atque sudans quam minime, peritissimus fit laborum vitandorum ut qui tandem cognoverit hanc maximam sententiam: nunc gaudendum esse.

Condiscipuli denique – nam vos sapientes dico – cum hic pristinus mos orationis Latine faciendae digitos temporis atque mutationis fugerit, vos tamen quacumque in orbe terrarum animae ducunt, pergitote progredi. Avete atque plaudite!



On the Evolution of Homo harvardiensis

President Summers, deans, and faculty, you who have steered the Harvard experience; alumni, friends, and parents, you who have supported the Harvard experience; and finally, my fellow classmates, you who are the citizens of the Harvard experience: welcome!  Classmates, as you embark upon your new lives, you leave the safe and cozy classrooms, houses, and fields of Harvard.  Do not fear the inconsistency of the future time, but rather know that the course of life is always improving.

For indeed at Harvard we find this planet’s most fascinating species: Homo harvardiensis. Most distinguished by its academic ability, harvardiensis undergoes rapid evolutionary changes in order to adapt itself to the rigors of its state.

In the beginning, we see harvardiensis habilis, who is customarily found in Annenberg Hall and Harvard Yard.  Once it begins its studies, that habilis turns into an overachiever at learning the arts and sciences, and applies itself for the purpose of annoying those tourists who are its own perpetual annoyance.

The second species consists of those who now seem to be upperclassmen, since they have entered the Harvard houses.  Because they rise in stature, they belong to the group Homo harvardiensis erectus.  This erectus sheds the primitive and uncouth customs of its recent origin and instead enjoys the better food and community of the houses, but because it drinks from the huge wine-jars, erectus falls over as often as it stands up.

Now accustomed to its environment, the standing and falling erectus changes into the third species, harvardiensis neanderthalensis.  Distinguished by its large brain and solid bones, neanderthalensis is well equipped to endure this most brutal third year.  In fact, from so many nights occupied in studying and playing, its closest companion is called Insomnia.

Finally, we come upon the highest and most advanced of all types: this very Homo harvardiensis sapiens.  Although it is wise, its wisdom is not in finishing problem sets or writing theses.  No. Our sapiens is most masterful at avoiding its duties while working and sweating as little as possible, such that it has finally learned the greatest lesson: now we must have fun!

Classmates – for I am calling you sapientes – although this ancient custom of making a Latin oration has escaped the fingers of time and change, you should however, wherever on earth your spirits lead you, continue evolving!  Farewell and applaud!

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