Salutatorian Maya Maskarinec, a classics major, delivered the salutatory address, which at Princeton is traditionally given in Latin and is the University's oldest student honor. The tradition dates back to an era when the entire Commencement ceremony was conducted in Latin. The Latin salutatory began as a serious, formal address, but today it often includes humorous tributes and recollections, as well as a farewell to Princeton campus life.
Because few students today know Latin, the new graduates follow along using printed copies of the remarks. These include footnotes telling the graduates when to clap (plaudite), laugh (ridete) and shout (conclamate). Guests and other audience members do not have the annotated copies, a practice dictated by tradition because the salute is directed to the members of the class.
To feed her interest in Latin, Maskarinec, who is from Honolulu, began pursuing studies in classic languages with a tutor while in high school. Her school didn't offer Latin or Greek. After arriving at Princeton, Maskarinec studied at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome during a semester abroad, and she will study at the University of Vienna next year as a recipient of a Fulbright grant. She plans eventually to become a graduate student in the field of late antiquity.
At the commencement, Robert Fagles was also honoured with an honourary degree:
Robert Fagles is Princeton's Arthur Marks '19 Professor of Comparative Literature Emeritus. His teaching and research specialties are the classical tradition in English and European literature; the theory and practice of translation; interrelationships between the arts; and forms of poetry: lyric, tragedy and epic. One of the world's most celebrated literary translators, he has created English renditions of several important monuments of classical Greek and Roman literature, including plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles; Homer's epics, "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey," both of which became best-sellers; and Virgil's "The Aeneid," published in 2007.
Fagles joined the Princeton faculty in the Department of English in 1960. Starting in 1966, he was director of the Program in Comparative Literature, which attained department status in 1975. He served as founding chair of the department from 1975 to 1994 and retired from the faculty in 2002. He has received numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal, the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award of the Academy of American Poets and Princeton's Behrman Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities. Fagles was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In a language the ancient poets could not know, he sings of wars and a man, of a man of twists and turns, and of the rage of Achilles, with such perfect pitch that he must have held the Muse enthralled. We tell here of his four decades of feats on behalf of Princeton, as the founding father of comparative literature, as a gracious and wise colleague and as an inspiring mentor and teacher. His translations bring to life not just the words but the unquenchable spirit of the ancient masterpieces, as through his verses he takes us once more to the windy plain of Troy, across the wine-dark sea and to the high walls of Rome. Through these inadequate words we salute him, his work and his own unquenchable spirit.