Victorinus, On Definitions


1 Introduction


2 Translation


Now, these are the three substantial definitions principally posited by me: that which is from the whole (a toto), that from the enumeration of parts (a partium enumeratione), and that from signification (a nota). Of these, however, only the first is called a definition in the true sense. The other two are not said to be definitions in the true sense, but named such in an honorary manner, because they indicate what that which is asked about is.

But now let us return to that definition which is from the whole, because that can contain many forms within it. And of these, let us separate as many as we can collect – for perhaps there are still more –, and then let us give their fashions (rationes), distinctions (differentiae), and examples.

  • So, the first is that which is called ‘essential’ (gr. οὐσιώδης ousiṓdēs) in Greek. In Latin, it can be called ‘substantial’ (lat. substantialis).
  • The second is the ‘conceptual’ (ἐννοηματική ennoēmatikḗ), which only prompts the concept (notio).
  • The third is ‘attribute’ (ποιότης poiótēs), which takes its name from ‘quality’ (qualitas).
  • The fourth is ‘descriptive’ (ὑπογραφική hypographikḗ), which is named ‘description’ (descriptio) by Tully.
  • The fifth is ‘by synonym’ (κατ’ ἀντίλεξιν kat’ antílexin). In Latin, we can call it ‘by another word’ (ad verbum).
  • The sixth is ‘by differentiation’ (κατὰ διαφοράν katà diaphorán). The Latins name it ‘from the same and the different’ (de eodem et de altero), which can be called ‘by differentiation’ (per differentiam).
  • The seventh is ‘by metaphor’ (κατὰ μεταφοράν katà metaphorán), that is, ‘by transference’ (per translationem).
  • The eighth is ‘by exclusion of the opposite’ (κατ’ ἀφαίρεσιν τοῦ ἐναντίου kat’ aphaíresin toû enantíou), that is, ‘by removal of its contrary’ (per privantiam contrarii eius).
  • The ninth is ‘by illustration’ (καθ’ ὑποτύπωσιν kath’ hypotýpōsin), that is, ‘by some image’ (per quandam imaginationem).
  • The tenth is ‘as an example’ (ὡς τύπος hōs týpos), in Latin, ‘such as’ (veluti).
  • The eleventh is ‘by the deficiency of the whole of the same kind’ (κατ’ ἐλλειπὲς τοῦ πλήρους ὁμοίου γένους kat’ elleipès toû plḗrous homoíou génous), that is, ‘by the want of the whole of the same kind’ (per indigentiam pleni ex eodem genere).
  • The twelfth is ‘by praise’ (κατ’ ἔπαινον kat’ épainon), that is, ‘by praise’ (per laudem).
  • The thirteenth is ‘by analogy’ (κατ’ ἀναλογίαν kat’ analogían), that is, ‘according to the relation which is called proportionality’ (iuxta rationem quae proportio dicitur).
  • The fourteenth ‘by relation’ (κατὰ τὸ πρός τι katà tò prós ti), that is, ‘by that in relation to which something is’ (per id quod ad aliquid est).
  • The fifteenth is ‘causal’ (αἰτιολογική aitiologikḗ), which attributes the cause (causam tribuens).