The word syzygy is an adaptation of the Greek word meaning “conjunction”.
In astronomy, a syzygy occurs when three celestial bodies are aligned, like the sun, the earth and the moon during an eclipse of the Moon.

In the traditional Catholic exegesis, there is a syzygy correspondence between two beings, events, actions, when 1) they are not contemporaneous; 2) they bear a strong analogy; 3) and the first prefigures, signifies, or announces the second. The first, the precursor, is called the type and the second is termed the antitype.

The Old Testament introduces the Types, the New Testament presents the Antitypes (this vocabulary is specific, it has nothing to do with the model / anti-model perspective) :

“the Antitype not only repeats but completes and perfects the Type. […] Noah, Abraham, Moses … are “Types” of Christ” (Ellrodt 1980, 38).

The syzygy principle orders history and the world, and, as such, founds the syzygy argument, used to an ever greater extent to establish significant links between the two “Type vs. Antitype” spheres. It exploits the resources of structural nalogy, proportion and proportionality and a variant of the argument of progress: what comes before is analogous to, but has less being and substance than what comes after, in a two-state world.

A variant of the syzygy principle projects the mundane world, considered to be a Type, onto the after-life, or eternal world, its Antitype, where it finds its raison d’être.

The syzygy argument retains its pedagogical function, which is to give the believer an idea of future conditions: the Monarch is the Type, of which the Almighty Father is the Antitype.

For him [Man] also he [God] hath varied the figures of combinations [syzygies], placing before him small things first, and great ones afterwards, such as the world and eternity. But the world that now is, is temporary; that which shall be is eternal.
Clementine Homilies, 3rd Century (disputed).[1]


Syzygy-like principles can still be used, maybe ironically, to back a historical analysis.

In France, on Brumaire 18th (November 9th), 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte engaged in a coup in order to establish his dictatorship. Half a century later, his nephew, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte also seized power by force. Karl Marx comments as follows on the relation between these two coups:

Hegel makes this remark somewhat that all the great events and historical personages are repeated, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce […]. And we find the same caricature in the circumstances in which the second edition of the 18th Brumaire appeared.
Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, 1851.[2]

The principle, history repeats itself the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce is an inverted syzygy.



[1] Clementine Homilies. Edimburgh: Clark, 1870, p. 38 (Homily II, Chapter XV. Quoted after

[2] Brumaire is the second month of the French Revolutionary Calender, corresponding to October-November; the Revolutionary year began in Autumn. “The second edition” is the nephew’s coup. Quoted after: P. 5. (09-20-2013)