ANTISEPTICS (Gr. ἀντὶ, against, and σηπτικὸς, putrefactive), the name given to substances which are used for the prevention of bacterial development in animal or vegetable matter. Some are true germicides, capable of destroying the bacteria, whilst others merely prevent or inhibit their growth. The antiseptic method of treating wounds (see Surgery) was introduced by Lord Lister, and was an outcome of Pasteur’s germ theory of putrefaction. For the growth of bacteria there must be a certain food supply, moisture, in most cases oxygen, and a certain minimum temperature (see Bacteriology). These conditions have been specially studied and applied in connexion with the preserving of food (see Food Preservation) and in the ancient practice of embalming the dead, which is the earliest illustration of the systematic use of antiseptics (see Embalming). In early inquiries a great point was made of the prevention of putrefaction, and work was done in the way of finding how much of an agent must be added to a given solution, in order that the bacteria accidentally present might not develop. But for various reasons this was an inexact method, and to-day an antiseptic is judged by its effects on pure cultures of definite pathogenic microbes, and on their vegetative and spore forms. Their standardization has been effected in many instances, and a water solution of carbolic acid of a certain fixed strength is now taken as the standard with which other antiseptics are compared. The more important of those in use to-day are carbolic acid, the perchloride and biniodide of mercury, iodoform, formalin, salicylic acid, &c. Carbolic acid is germicidal in strong solution, inhibitory in weaker ones. The so-called “pure” acid is applied to infected living tissues, especially to tuberculous sinuses or wounds, after scraping them, in order to destroy any part of the tuberculous material still remaining. A solution of 1 in 20 is used to sterilize instruments before an operation, and towels or lint to be used for the patient. Care must always be taken to avoid absorption (see Carbolic Acid). The perchloride of mercury is another very powerful antiseptic used in solutions of strength 1 in 2000, 1 in 1000 and 1 in 500. This or the biniodide of mercury is the last antiseptic applied to the surgeon’s and assistants’ hands before an operation begins. They are not, however, to be used in the disinfection of instruments, nor where any large abraded surface would favour absorption. Boracic acid receives no mention here; though it is popularly known as an antiseptic, it is in reality only a soothing fluid, and bacteria will flourish comfortably in contact with it. Of the dry antiseptics iodoform is constantly used in septic or tuberculous wounds, and it appears to have an inhibitory action on Bacillus tuberculosis. Its power depends on the fact that it is slowly decomposed by the tissues, and free iodine given off. Among the more recently introduced antiseptics, chinosol, a yellow substance freely soluble in water, and lysol, another coal-tar derivative, are much used. But every antiseptic, however good, is more or less toxic and irritating to a wounded surface. Hence it is that the “antiseptic” method has been replaced in the surgery of to-day by the “aseptic” method (see Surgery), which relies on keeping free from the invasion of bacteria rather than destroying them when present.
ANTISTHENES (c. 444–365 b.c.), the founder of the Cynic school of philosophy, was born at Athens of a Thracian mother, a fact which may account for the extreme boldness of his attack on conventional thought. In his youth he studied rhetoric under Gorgias, perhaps also under Hippias and Prodicus. Gomperz suggests that he was originally in good circumstances, but was reduced to poverty. However this may be, he came under the influence of Socrates, and became a devoted pupil. So eager was he to hear the words of Socrates that he used to walk daily from Peiraeus to Athens, and persuaded his friends to accompany him. Filled with enthusiasm for the Socratic idea of virtue, he founded a school of his own in the Cynosarges, the hall of the bastards (νόθοι). Thither he attracted the poorer classes by the simplicity of his life and teaching. He wore a cloak and carried a staff and a wallet, and this costume became the uniform of his followers. Diogenes Laertius says that his works filled ten volumes, but of these fragments only remain. His favourite style seems to have been the dialogue, wherein we see the effect of his early rhetorical training. Aristotle speaks of him as uneducated and simple-minded, and Plato describes him as struggling in vain with the difficulties of dialectic. His work represents one great aspect of Socratic philosophy, and should be compared with the Cyrenaic and Megarian doctrines.
ANTISTROPHE, the portion of an ode which is 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 is of the nature of a reply, and balances the effect of the strophe. Thus, in Gray’s ode called “The Progress of Poesy,” the strophe, which dwelt in triumphant accents on the beauty, power and ecstasy of verse, is answered by the antistrophe, in a depressed and melancholy key—
Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain,
Disease and Sorrow's weeping Train,
And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate," &c.
When the sections of the chorus have ended their responses, they unite and close in the epode, thus exemplifying the triple form in which the ancient sacred hymns of Greece were composed, from the days of Stesichorus onwards. As Milton says, “strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed only for the music then used with the chorus that sang.”
ANTITHESIS (the Greek for “setting opposite”), in rhetoric, the bringing out of a contrast in the meaning by an obvious contrast in the expression, as in the following:—“When there is need of silence, you speak, and when there is need of speech, you are dumb; when present, you wish to be absent, and when absent, you desire to be present; in peace you are for war, and in war you long for peace; in council you descant on bravery, and in the battle you tremble.” Antithesis is sometimes double or alternate, as in the appeal of Augustus:—“Listen, young men, to an old man to whom old men were glad to listen when he was young.” The force of the antithesis is increased if the words on which the beat of the contrast falls are alliterative, or otherwise similar in sound, as—“The fairest but the falsest of her sex.” There is nothing that gives to expression greater point and vivacity than a judicious employment of this figure; but, on the other hand, there is nothing more tedious and trivial than a pseudo-antithetical style. Among English writers who have made the most abundant use of antithesis are Pope, Young, Johnson, and Gibbon; and especially Lyly in his Euphues. It is, however, a much more common feature in French than in