Commencement Exercises
June 5, 2001 

Latin Salutatory Oration (Translation)

Christopher Bradley

Sing, muse, sing a salutation for our class; but let it neither be sung in pig Latin, nor let my words be pearls thrown to swine [laugh].

You, first, you, President Shapiro, I greet with all the gravitas entrusted to me upon this hallowed occasion; you who are thrice and four times honored since you practically rebuilt--a thing amazing to behold!--our university: Such a task it was to build so many great things. In addition, most honored Professor Tilghman, our new president, I greet you and wish you well; I greet also the Board of Trustees, friends, and our long-suffering families.

But for you I reserve a special greeting, my most dear classmates, for whom the mystery of the knowledge of the Latin language is reserved [laugh]. Latin was the universal language of scholarship throughout the Western world when this university was founded not because it divided the elite from the unlearned, but because it transcended vernacular differences and could be spoken by people of different nations and tongues. And as Princeton goes forward into the new millennium--spelled with one n or two? [laugh]--we do well to remember that we are in the service of not merely this nation but all nations [applause].

For truly, despite appearances, all roads do not lead to Wall Street [laugh]; and whether our steps remain in the well-worn study of Latin or lead to Latin America, I hope that we will take with us not superior erudition--which classes such as Physics for Poets, Rocks for Jocks, and E-mail for Credit certainly imparted [laugh]--but rather an ability to think critically and carefully about the world around us, and about ourselves. We thank our professors for this training [applause].

Moreover, I am certain that we will hereafter preserve in our hearts more, many more things, for surely we will not forget those who returned as champions from the field, those illustrious ones who debated concerning the well-being of our government in the public forum, those who were champions of the drinking-cup, those who were conscientious servants of their fellow-citizens, those who were actors, and writers, and musicians in bands whom I name honoris causa: Scotch for Breakfast, the Emergency Funk Squad, the Great Noon and 'calico.' [applause].

We should all preserve our memory of the time we have spent at Princeton, the joys we have experienced together, even while we call for this school, our alma mater, to grow in new and diverse ways.

My class, may you lead your life in great peace and prosperity. I thank you for patiently listening to my speech, however humble it is; and I thank you for the many lessons that you have taught me; may our learning together never cease! My friends--latinate and barbaric alike--hail and farewell.