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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Antistrophe \An*tis"tro*phe\, n. [L., fr. Gr. ?, fr. ? to turn to the opposite side; ? against + ? to turn. See Strophe.]

  1. In Greek choruses and dances, the returning of the chorus, exactly answering to a previous strophe or movement from right to left. Hence: The lines of this part of the choral song.

    It was customary, on some occasions, to dance round the altars whilst they sang the sacred hymns, which consisted of three stanzas or parts; the first of which, called strophe, was sung in turning from east to west; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east; then they stood before the altar, and sang the epode, which was the last part of the song.
    --Abp. Potter.

  2. (Rhet.)

    1. The repetition of words in an inverse order; as, the master of the servant and the servant of the master.

    2. The retort or turning of an adversary's plea against him.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1600, from Latin, from Greek antistrophe "a turning about, a turning back," from antistrephein, from anti- "against" (see anti-) + strephein "to turn" (see strophe).


n. 1 In Greek choruses and dances, the returning of the chorus, exactly answering to a previous strophe or movement from right to left. Hence: The lines of this part of the choral song. 2 (context rhetoric English) The repetition of words in an inverse order. 3 (context rhetoric English) The repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses 4 The retort or turning of an adversary's plea against him.


n. the section of a choral ode answering a previous strophe in classical Greek drama; the second of two metrically corresponding sections in a poem


Antistrophe (, "a turning back") is the portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to the strophe, which was sung from east to west.

It has the nature of a reply and balances the effect of the strophe. Thus, in Gray's ode called "The Progress of Poesy" (excerpt below), the strophe, which dwelt in triumphant accents on the beauty, power and ecstasy verse, is answered by the antistrophe, in a depressed and melancholy key:

When the sections of the chorus have ended their responses, they unite and close in the epode, thus exemplifying the triple m in which the ancient sacred hymns of Greece were coined, from the days of Stesichorus onwards. As Milton says, " strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed for the music then used with the chorus that sang."

Antistrophe was also a kind of ancient dance, wherein dancers stepped sometimes to the right, and sometimes to the left, still doubling their turns or conversions. The motion toward the left, they called antistrophe, from ὰντὶ, "against", and στροφὴ, of στρέφω, "I turn".

Usage examples of "antistrophe".

Epode 2 alpha, Strophe alpha 1, Strophe beta 2, Antistrophe alpha gamma, Antistrophe beta gamma, Antistrophe beta gamma, Antistrophe alpha gamma, Epode 1 gamma, Epode 2 gamma.

The Poet seems, in the first Ode particularly, to design the Epode as a complete air to the Strophe and Antistrophe, which have more the appearance of Recitative.

Full Choral Ode, the evolutions carrying them to the extreme Left of the Orchestra in the Strophe, and in the Antistrophe back to the Altar.

Then the Chorus address themselves to a Choral Ode in memory of the Spirit now passed beneath the earth: the evolutions as usual, carrying them with each Strophe to one end of the Orchestra, and with the Antistrophe back to the Altar.

Strophe 2, Antistrophe 1, Antistrophe 2, Antistrophe 1 alpha, Antistrophe 2 alpha.

The rhythm of alternating dawn and sunset, the strophe and antistrophe still perceptible through all the sudden shifts of our dithyrambic seasons and echoed in corresponding floral harmonies, made melody in the soul of Abel, the plain serving-man.

Voice answered voice in dark supplication, strophe and antistrophe, summoning .

It was a weird and melancholy music that seemed to swing backwards and forwards between two bands of singers, each strophe and antistrophe, if those are the right words, ending in a kind of wail or cry of despair which turned my blood cold.

Choirs must follow strophe and antistrophe and end the play in catastrophe.

He was bewildered, for instance, by her new and to him quite inexplicable reluctance to respond to their familiar urinary tune by singing the antistrophe that signified assent, and crouching to relieve herself.

Strophes and Antistrophes as in the Prelude, but the Evolutions now leading them from the central Altar to the extreme Right and Left of the Orchestra.

Admetus, whose speeches fall into the rhythm of a Funeral March, and the Chorus, who speak in Strophes and Antistrophes of more elaborate lyric rhythm, often interrupted by the wails of Admetus.

He should have responded with one or other of the appropriate antistrophes, but he was silent.

Written in monostichs, each divided into strophe and antistrophe, the sentiment of the 1st.