Nicander（*Ni/kandros), literary. 1. The author of two Greek poems that are still extant, and of several others that have been lost. His father's name was Damnaeus (Eudoc. Viol. ap. Villoison's Anecd. Gr. vol. i. p. 308, and an anonymous Greek life of Nicander), though Suidas (probably by some oversight) calls him Xenophanes (s. v. Νίκανδρος), and he was one of the hereditary priests of Apollo Clarius [CLARIUS], to which dignity Nicander himself succeeded (comp. Nicand. Allexiph. 5.11). He was born at the small town of Claros, near Colophon in Ionia, as he intimates himself Therer. in fine), whence he is frequently called Colophonius (Cic. de Orat. 1.16; Suid. &c.), and there is a Greek epigram (Anthol. Gr. 9.213) complimenting Colophon on being the birth-place of Homer and Nicander. He was said by some ancient authors to have been born in Aetolia, but this probably arose from his having passed some time in that country, and written a work on its natural and political history. He has been supposed to have been a contemporary of Aratus and Callimachus in the third century B. C., but it is more probable that he lived nearly a century later, in the reign of Ptolemy V. (or Epiphanes), who died B. C. 181, and that the Attalus to whom he dedicated one of his lost poems was the last king of Pergamus of that name, who began to reign B. C. 138 (Anon. Gr. Life of Nicander, and Anon. Gr. Life of Aratus). If these two dates are correct, Nicander may be supposed to have been in reputation for about fifty years cir. B. C. 185-135 (see Clinton's Fasti Hell. vol. iii.). He was a physician and grammarian. as well as a poet, and his writings seem to have been rather numerous and on various subjects.
Θηριακά, and consists of nearly a thousand hexameter lines. It is dedicated to a person named Hermesianax, who must not be confounded with the poet of that name. It treats (as the name implies) of venomous animals and the wounds inflicted by them, and contains some curious and interesting zoological passages, together with numerous absurd fables, which do not require to be particularly specified here. Haller calls it " longa, incondita, et nullius fidei farrago" (Biblioth. Botan.).
Ἀλεξιφάρμακα consists of more than six hundred lines, written in the same metre, is dedicated to a person named Protagoras, and treats of poisons and their antidotes : of this work also Haller remarks, "descriptio vix ulla, symptomata fuse recensentur, et magna farrago et incondita plantarium potissimum alexipharmacarum subjicitur." A full analysis of the medical portions of both these works may be found in Mr. Adams's Commentary on the fifth book of Paulus Aegineta. Among the ancients his authority in all matters relating to toxicology seems to have been considered high. His works are frequently quoted by Pliny Plin. Nat. 20.13, 96, 22.15, 32, 26.66, 30.25, 32.22, 36.25, 37.11, 28), Galen de Hippocr. et Plat. Decr. 2.8, vol. v. p. 275, de Locis Affect. 2.5, vol. viii. p. 133, de Simpl. Aledicam. Temper. ac Facult. 9.2.10, 10.2.16, vol. xii. pp. 204, 289, de Ther. ad Pis. cc. 9, 13, vol. xiv. pp. 239, 265, Comment. in Hippocr. " De Artic." 3.38, vol. xviii. pt. i. p. 537), Athenaeus (pp. 66, 312, 366, 649, &c.), and other ancient writers ; and Dioscorides, Aetius, and other medical authors have made frequent use of his works. Plutarch, Diphilus and others wrote commentaries on his "Theriaca" [DIPHILUS], Marianus paraphrased it in iambic verse [MARIANUS], and Entecnius wrote a paraphrase in prose of his two principal poems, which is still extant. On the subject of his poetical merits the ancient writers were not well agreed; for though (as we have seen) a writer in the Greek Anthology compliments Colophon for being the birth-place of Homer and Nicander, and Cicero praises (de Orat. 1.16) the poetical manner in which in his " Georgics" he treated a subject of which he was wholly ignorant, Plutarch on the other hand (de Aud. Poet. 100.2, vol. i. p. 36, ed. Tauchn.) says that the " Theriaca," like the poems of Empedocles, Parmenides, and Theognis, have nothing in them of poetry but the metre. Modern critics have differed equally on this point; but practically the judgment of posterity has been pronounced with sufficient clearness, and his works are now scarcely ever read aspoems, but merely constilted by those who are interested in points of zoological and medical antiquities: --how opposite a fate to that which has befallen Virgil's Georgics ! In reference to his style and language Bentley calls him, with great truth, "antiquarium, obsoleta et casca verba studiose venantem, et vel sui saecnli lectoribus difficilem et obscurum." Cambridge Museum Criticumn, vol. i. p. 371.)