Nicander of Colophon (Greek: Νίκανδρος ὁ Κολοφώνιος, translit. Níkandros ho Kolophṓnios; fl. 2nd century BC) was a Greek poet, physician, and grammarian. He 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.[1]

Nikander, Theriaca, 10th century, Constantinople

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.[1] Nicander's main source for medical information was the physician Apollodorus of Egypt.[a] Among his lost works, Heteroeumena was a mythological epic, used by Ovid in the Metamorphoses and epitomized by Antoninus Liberalis; Georgica,[1] of which considerable fragments survive, was perhaps imitated by Virgil.[3]

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[1] (e.g., Tertullian in De Scorpiace, I, 1).

List of works


Surviving poems

  • Theriaca (Of Venomous Animals)
  • Alexipharmaca
  • Epigrams[4]

Lost poems

  • Cimmerii
  • Europia
  • Georgica ("Farming")
  • Heteroeumena ("Metamorphoses")
  • Hyacinthus
  • Hymnus ad Attalum ("Hymn to Attalus")[5]
  • 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.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nicander". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 642.
  2. ^ Dalby, Andrew (2013). Food in the Ancient World from A to Z. Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-135-95422-2.
  3. ^ Quintilian 10.1.56; but this may simply mean that Virgil, like Nicander, wrote a poem on farming.
  4. ^ Anthologia Palatina 7.435, 7.526, 11.7.
  5. ^ Nelson, Thomas J. (December 2020). "Nicander's Hymn to Attalus: Pergamene Panegyric". The Cambridge Classical Journal. 66: 182–202. doi:10.1017/S1750270519000083. ISSN 1750-2705. S2CID 211927577.


  • 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, ed. (1892), "Die Göttinger Scholien zu Nikanders Alexipharmaka", Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften in Göttingen (in German), vol. 48, Göttingen der dieterichschen Buchhandlung, pp. 131–226
  • H. Klauser, "De Dicendi Genere Nicandri" (Dissertationes Philologicae Vindobonenses, vi. 1898).
  • Nelson, Thomas J. (2020), "Nicander's Hymn to Attalus: Pergamene Panegyric'", Cambridge Classical Journal, 66: 182–202, doi:10.1017/S1750270519000083, S2CID 211927577
  • W. Vollgraff, Nikander und Ovid (Groningen, 1909 ff.).
  • An ancient Life of Nicander, from the scholia
  • Theriaca et Alexipharmaca recensuit et emendavit, fragmenta collegit, commentationes addidit Otto Schneider. Accedunt scholia in Theriaca ex recensione Henrici Keil., scholia in Alexipharmaca ex recognitione Bussemakeri et R. Bentlei emedationes, Lipsiae sumptibus et typis B. G. Teubneri, 1856.
  • Poetae bucolici et didactici. Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, Nicander, Oppianus, Marcellus de piscibus, poeta de herbis, C. Fr. Ameis, F. S. Lehrs (ed.), Parisiis, editore Ambrosio Firmin Didot, 1862, pp. 127-163.
  • English translations of Theriaca and Alexipharmaca.
  • Dübner, Friedrich (1849). "Scholia et paraphrases in Nicandrum et Oppianum". In U. Cats Bussemaker (ed.). Scholia in Theocritum (in Greek). Parisiis: Ambrosio Firmin Didot. pp. 173–242.