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File:Theriaca 002.jpg
Nikander, Theriaca, 10th century, Constantinople

Nicander of Colophon (Greek: Νίκανδρος ὁ Κολοφώνιος Níkandros ho Kolophṓnios; fl. 2nd century BC), Greek poet, physician and grammarian, was born at Claros (Ahmetbeyli in modern Turkey), near Colophon, where his family held the hereditary priesthood of Apollo. He flourished under Attalus III of Pergamum.

He wrote a number of works both in prose and verse, of which two survive complete. The longest, Theriaca, is a hexameter poem (958 lines) on the nature of venomous animals and the wounds which they inflict. The other, Alexipharmaca, consists of 630 hexameters treating of poisons and their antidotes. Nicander's main source for medical information was the physician Apollodorus of Egypt.[lower-alpha 1] Among his lost works, Heteroeumena was a mythological epic, used by Ovid in the Metamorphoses and epitomized by Antoninus Liberalis; Georgica, of which considerable fragments survive, was perhaps imitated by Virgil.[2]

The works of Nicander were praised by Cicero (De oratore, i. 16), imitated by Ovid and Lucan, and frequently quoted by Pliny and other writers (e. g. Tertullian in De Scorpiace, I, 1).

List of works

Surviving poems

Lost poems

  • Cimmerii
  • Europia
  • Georgica ("Farming")
  • Heteroeumena ("Metamorphoses")
  • Hyacinthus
  • Hymnus ad Attalum ("Hymn to Attalus")
  • Melissourgica ("Beekeeping")
  • Oetaica
  • Ophiaca
  • Sicelia
  • Thebaica

Lost prose works

  • Aetolica ("History of Aetolia")
  • Colophoniaca ("History of Colophon")
  • De Poetis Colophoniis ("On poets from Colophon")
  • Glossae ("Difficult words")


  1. Apollodorus, physician to a Ptolemy, was "likely enough" the same man as Apollodorus of Alexandria.[1]


  1. Dalby, Andrew (2013). Food in the Ancient World from A to Z. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-135-95422-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Quintilian 10.1.56; but this may simply mean that Virgil, like Nicander, wrote a poem on farming.
  3. Anthologia Palatina 7.435, 7.526, 11.7.


  • Nicander ed. and tr. A. S. F. Gow, A. F. Scholfield. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1953.
  • Earlier editions by JG Schneider (1792, 1816); O. Schneider (1856) (with the Scholia).
  • The Scholia (from the Göttingen manuscript) were edited by G. Wentzel in Abhandlungen der königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, vol. 48, Göttingen, in der dieterichschen Buchhandlung, 1892, pagg. 131-226.
  • H. Klauser, "De Dicendi Genere Nicandri" (Dissertationes Philologicae Vindobonenses, vi. 1898).
  • W. Vollgraff, Nikander und Ovid (Groningen, 1909 ff.).
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links