I write again asking for help with two passages of Lawrence of Brindisi.

  1. Christus autem virga est divinae virtutis : [examples of biblical virgae]. Sed virga ista facta est diversorum colorum, albi et nigri: albedo habitus ac positio est sicut lux, nigredo vero privatio sicut tenebrae.

It's the last bit that I find a bit confusing, on two levels. First, the syntax: "the whiteness is habitus and positio, like light, while the blackness is privation, like shadows." Is that how this should be understood?

The next question is the sense of positio. Obviously derived from ponere. But in this religious context, is just plain 'position' appropriate?

  1. Quod autem de proximo faciendum est, habendum est pro facto, hinc oriente aurora dicimus factum diem

For context, here is the surrounding text:

enter image description here enter image description here

Does de proximo mean simply "next"? I think that's the logic: 'what must be done next, must be considered as done, hence, at the first light of dawn, we say that it is daytime.'

  • Interesting question. 1) Could you provide a source? 2) Re: the first passage, I think habitus ac positio is part of the subject. The way in which the whiteness is set [in this sprout] is like light
    – Rafael
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 12:30
  • Re: de proximo, I think I need more context. It could be referring to a neighbor in the Christian sense: love thy neighbor = dilige proximum tuum. Hence what has to be done about the neighbor, etc.
    – Rafael
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 12:44
  • I don't quite follow your interpretation of the first passage: wouldn't we expect the words to then be in an oblique case (e.g. accusative of respect)? Commented May 31, 2022 at 14:02
  • Context for the second: imgur.com/a/KmYkhE2 Commented May 31, 2022 at 14:02
  • @omniamutantur1 they could be in apposition, though I'm not sure such an apposition would be grammatical. Now that I re-read, I think your reading is more reasonable.
    – Rafael
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


For your first question:

  • You understand the syntax correctly.

  • habitus ac positiō is the 2-for-1 translation equivalent of the single Aristotelian ἕξις héxis. A lucid explanation for why this is needed is found in Bydén (2022):

    “Héxis” is the action noun of the verb “échein.” But “échein” can be used both transitively, so as to mean “to have – or hold, or contain – (something),” and intransitively, usually with an adverbial modifier, so as to mean “to be (somehow) disposed.” And “héxis” is the action noun of both transitive and intransitive “échein.” As a result, it is radically ambiguous.

    In English, an equivalent is even harder to find, something like “a having-of/state/disposition.”

  • This is opposed to prīvātiō, this time a one-word correspondence to the Aristotelian στέρησις stérēsis, and to the English “privation.”

  • The light-shadow analogy is also straight from A's On the Soul.

For your second question, the context unambiguously fixes the interpretation of dē proximō as a single time adjunct (an adverbial) meaning “very soon, next thing” - such use of became common already in late Latin (dē subitō etc.). In fact it appears in DuCange, glossed as “Brevi, intra proximos dies, Gall. Dans peu.”


  • Bydén, B. (2022). "Chapter 1 Aristotle’s Light Analogy in the Greek Tradition". In Forms of Representation in the Aristotelian Tradition
  • 1
    Thank you very much for this extremely informative response. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 13:38
  • 1
    @omniamutantur1 My pleasure - and thank you for the interesting question! I happened to be reading a bit of Aristotle lately (in Russian and Latin rather than Greek) but hadn't reached these concepts yet, so they were also new for me, as is most of ancient philosophy in general. I doubt I would have come across that article otherwise, and it looks like it might be very helpful to me down the line. —(If you think my answer fully covers your question, please consider accepting it and ticking my mental box :D) Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 5:12

Given the context, I'd take the second passage to mean: "that which is to be done shortly/soon/next, should be considered as having been already done".

The thrust of the paragraph is something like: "If Christ has just been born, how can there already be glory and victory? How can there be a harvest when only the seed has yet been born? But that which we know will inevitably happen soon can be taken as a fact, just as when the sun is just rising, we say it's already day." The paragraph gives various analogies between Christ and a seed/the sunrise/etc. as harbingers of something bigger to come, and the sentence you highlight describes the logic behind those analogies.

Admittedly I haven't found a clear parallel for de proximo meaning "shortly, soon" or "next", though proxime sometimes has that meaning (L&S, II.B.2.a), so it's only the context that can argue for this reading. Maybe this is a medieval usage (though it doesn't seem to be in du Cange).

  • Thank you very much—I am glad to see that this generally aligns with how I had read the passage. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 13:39

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