Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898 | SUBSCRIBE

Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

Benjamin Porteous, Latin Salutatory



In Honorem Iohannis Martini Annenbergensis


Praeses Bacow, Decani, Professores doctissimi, Hospites ter-honorati, Alumni Alumnaeque eminentissimae, pro nobis permulta passae familiae, et praecipue vosmet, condiscipuli carissimi, salvete!

In rostra hodie ante vos ascendi, condiscipuli, ut virtutes ac mores Iohannis Martini Annenbergensis laudem.

Cum primum ad hanc Harvardianam Aream pervenissemus, magna cum trepidatione nos omnes illas aulae Annenbergensis ianuas formidabiles aperuimus.

Fortunati ei qui cum sociis ad illas ianuas pervenerunt, contubernales fortasse aut qui se cognoverant ex Libro Personarum ad cohortis Harvardianae anni MMXXII usum compilato. Nobis qui non comitati sunt, aula Annenbergensis solis ineunda erat. Limen tamen transeuntes, huius universitatis excellentissimo civi, maximo chartarum tractatori, tironum optimo amico, praedilecto Iohanni occurrimus. Is, egregia memoriae facultate praeditus, ante Idus Septembres, non solum nomina nostra, sed etiam nomina dilectarum turmarum athleticarum, parentum fratrumque, verum etiam nomina carissimorum canum feliumque cognoverat. Nos quotidie in refectorio salutatione hilara iocoque faceto accepit. In pectore meo hic vere dulcissimus sonus nostri primi in Academia Harvardiana anni est: ita: Tractatur. “Ana Luiza! Mater tua quid agit? In Monte regali hiems valde crudelis est. Eam mone ut vestimenta lanea gerat.” Tractatur. “Philippe rex, salve!” Tractatur. “Minjue, feliciter seriem problematorum fac!” Tractatur. “Iacobe! Quid….Oh! Exspecta parumper…Vah! Vosmet! Agite! Peregrinis non licet huc inire. Hic imagines photographicas luce exprimere non licet! Nonne signum vidistis? Sex linguis scriptum est….mmm, quid dicebam? Ah,” tractatur. “Octavi! Heri Catulos Ursae vicisse audivi, et pro te gaudebam.” Tractatur. “Ben, quid agis? Num bibliothecam ipsam in ista sarcina tua portas?”

Tunc demum pestilentia detestabilis ingruit, nos de hac universitate amabili eiecit, orbem terrarum denique manu dira concussit.

Septemdecim post menses ad hanc Aream reverti sumus. In quasdam blattas, mures, fungos bellum gessimus; agnovimus illas pallidas imagines olim visas in quodam mundo ficto, Zoomlandia nomine, reapse corpora solida habentes condiscipulos amicosque fuisse. Una simul mense Martis anni MMXX amissam domum denuo quaesivimus.

Proximo autumno, semel in aulam Annenbergensem inivi, ut pranderem. Iohannes aberat. Maestus ex ostio postico egrediebar, et…. ecce! ibi erat, cum collegis matutino otio gaudens. “Iohannes!” exclamo. “Ben!” haud cunctanter respondet. “Iohannes,” inquam, vix auribus credens, “Mens tua plane est sicut horreum memoriae nubilosum!” Ridet solum, sed eo risu domum meam denuo repperi.


(English translation below)


A Salute to John Martin of Annenberg

President Bacow, Deans, Most Learned Professors, Thrice-Honored Guests, Esteemed Alumni and Alumnae, Families who have endured so much on our behalf, and especially, You, my most beloved classmates: greetings!

I have climbed these steps today, classmates, to tell you how wonderful John Martin of Annenberg is.

When we first arrived in this Harvard Yard of ours, it was with great trepidation that we opened those formidable doors of Annenberg. 

How fortunate were those who approached the doors with companions, roommates, perhaps, or else friends they had met on the Facebook Page of the Harvard College Class of 2022! Those of us unaccompanied had to enter Annenberg all alone. However, passing over the threshold, we encountered that most excellent citizen of this university, greatest of card-swipers, best friend of first-years, the one-and-only John! He, endowed with a remarkable faculty of memory, had learned before the middle of September not only our names, but also the names of our favorite sports teams, of our parents and siblings, and even of our cats and dogs. Every day he welcomed us into the dining hall with an enthusiastic greeting and cheerful banter. In my heart this is the sound—and how sweet it is! —of our first year at Harvard College: Thus: Swipe. “Ana Luiza! How is your mother doing? It gets really cold in Montreal in the winter. Be sure to remind her to dress warmly!” Swipe. “Greetings, King Philip!” Swipe. “Minjue, good luck with your p-set!” Swipe. “Jake! How…Oh! Excuse me a sec…Hey! You there! No tourists allowed in here! No, tourists aren’t allowed to take photographs in here either. Didn’t you see the sign? It’s written in six languages. Hmm, what was I saying? Ah,” swipe. “Octavio! I heard the Cubs won yesterday and I was so happy for you.” Swipe. “Ben, what are you up to? You aren’t carrying the whole library in your backpack are you?”

Then the detestable pandemic came upon us. It drove us out of this university we love. It struck the very world with its dread hand. 

After seventeen months, we returned to this Yard. We waged war on cockroaches, mice, and fungi. We discovered that pallid phantoms once seen in a made-up world called Zoomland were in fact classmates and friends with actual, physical bodies. At the same time we looked again for the home we had lost in March, 2020. 

Last fall, I went into Annenberg for a meal. John was not there. Saddened, I was leaving by the back door, when…presto! There he was, enjoying a mid-morning break with his coworkers. “John!” I cried. “Ben!” he responded without the least hesitation. “John,” I said, scarcely believing my ears, “where is your cloud storage?” He just laughed, but at his laugh I had found my home again.