Nicander Of Colophon

, a celebrated grammarian, poet, and physician, flourished in the 160th olympiad, about 140 B. C. in the reign of Attains; or, according to some, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphia. Suidas tells us, that he was the son of Xenophon of Colophon, a town in Ionia and observes, that, according to others, he was a native of Ætolia but, if we may believe Nicander himself, he was born in the neighbourhood of the temple of Apollo, at Claros, a little town in Ionia, near Colophon yet the name of his father was Damphæus.*


The passage is in the beginning of one of his poems, where he says, that he was neighbour to Apollo of Claros: and Suidas tells us, that the temple of Claros, where that god gave his oracles, was very near Colophon; so that his birth might be at Colophon, and not actually at Claros.

He was called an Ætolian, only because he lived many years in that country, and wrote a history of it. A great number of writings are ascribed to him, of which we have remaining only two: one entitled “Theriaca;” describing, in verse, the accidents which attend wounds made by venomoug beasts, with the proper remedies; the other, “Alexipharmaca” in which he treats of poisons and their antiuotes, or counter-poisons

Among these he mentions only two that were extracted from minerals, the litharge and the ceruse, which shews there was no other known at that time; all the rest were extracted either from plants or animals, of which the most pernicious was that called Toxicum; not described by the botanists, be-


cause, no doubt, they knew not from which plant it was extracted, or indeed what it was, though they were no strangers to the ill effects of it. And the same thing is seen at this day, in regard to some drugs which are used in physic, while nobody knows whether they are derived from plants or animals, or how they are prepared, as coming from foreign countries. Nicander ranks opium among the poisons. Le Clerc, Hist. de Med.

these are both excellent | poems. Demetrius Phalereus, Theon, Plutarch, and Diphilus of Laodicea, wrote commentaries upon the first; and we have still extant very learned GreekScholia” upon both, the author of which is not known; though Vossius imagines they were made by Diphilus just mentioned. He wrote also “Ophiaca,” upon serpents; “Hyacinthia,' 1 a collection of remedies, and a commentary upon the” Prognostics of Hippocratesin verse. The Scholiast of Nicander cites the two first of these, and Suidas mentions two others. Athenseus also cites, in several places, some poetical works of our author upon agriculture, called his” Georgics,“which were known likewise to Curio. Besides these he composed five books of” Metamorphoses,“some verses of which are copied by Tzetzes, and the” Metamorphoses“of Antonius Liberalis were apparently taken from those of Nicander. He composed also several historical works, among which” The History of Colophon,“his birth-place, is cited by Athenaeus we are told likewise of his history of Ætolia, Bœotia, and Thebes, and of” A History and description of Europe in general.“He was undoubtedly an author of merit, and deserves those eulogiums which are given of him in some epigrams in the” Anthologia.“This Nicander has been confounded with Nicander the grammarian of Thyatira, by Stephanus Byzantius: and Vossius, in giving the titles of the books written by both these Nicanders, does not distinguish them very clearly. Merian, in his essay on the influence of the sciences on poetry (in the Memoirs of the royal academy of Berlin for 1776), mentions Nicander to show the antipathy that there is between the language of poetry and the subjects which he treated. He considers Nicander as a therapeutic bard, who versified for the apothecaries, a grinder of anecdotes, who sung of scorpions, toads, and spiders. The” Theriaca“and” Alexipharmaca“are inserted in the Corp. Poet. Greec. Of separate editions, the best is that of Aldus, 1522; of the” Theriaca,“that of Bandini, 1764, 8yo, and of the” Alexipharmaca," that of Schneider, 1792, 8vo. 1

Vossius de Poet. Græc.—Fabric. Bibl. Græc.—Eloy Dict. de Medicin.— Month. Rev. vol. LXI.