22 June 2023


A tiring day, yesterday; off to Encaenia.

Time was, when one Philip Howard (alumnus of a large school near Southampton) used to give snippets in The Times from Mr Orator's Orations. Perhaps I, too, may offer snippets. 

I'm sure we all sympathised with him at the start of his Creweian Oration: he appeared to forget that, some years ago now, it was decided to have the Creweian in English. But after a false start in Latin, he recovered himself and asked my lord Chancellor in Latin for the now-customary permission Anglice loqui, The reply Licet!! was very decisive. But, y'see, the Creweian (among other things) includes comments on the common wealth; and the recent goings-on in Westminster had given Mr Orator no choice but to rewrite his Creweian the evening beforehand.

A note of pessimism: "Absit tamen ut fortunae semper prosperae fidamus". Can there really be a coup d'etat in the offing? Boris and Sir Rees Mogg on the barricades?

I noticed last year that Mr Orator slipped in an interesting reference to Dorothy Sayers. I was reminded of this yesterday when, in presenting a Val McDermid, a novelist from St Hilda's College, he said qui centum annis posthac quaerent quomodo hodie vixerimus eos [McDermid] putat ante omnia ad tales fabulas spectaturos esse. Detective Fiction is a genre which is not often given its due. 

 "Crown of Eggheads" as inter ova aurea cerebri ... ovans regnat was, I thought, ben trovato.

The presence in the agmen of Simon Schama offered, of course, the opportunity for Mr Orator to translate four lines from Puck of Pook's Hill which went nicely into three Latin hexameters. And I wondered if yesterday was the first time that Hillel the Elder had (1) been declaimed in Hebrew at Encaenia; and (2) been linked with a Latin translation of Kipling. 

It sounded well!


1 comment:

Genji said...

Would it be too much to hope that he alluded to Kipling's Gehazi?