Nicander - Encyclopedia

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NICANDER (2nd cent. B.C.), Greek poet, physician and grammarian, was born at Claros, 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 are preserved. The longest, Theriaca, is an 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. In his facts Nicander followed the physician Apollodorus. Among his lost works may be mentioned: Aetolica, a prose history of Aetolia; Heteroeumena, a mythological epic, used by Ovid in the Metamorphoses and epitomized by Antoninus Liberalis; Georgica and Melissourgica, of which considerable fragments are preserved, said to have been imitated by Virgil (Quintilian x. 1.56). The works of Nicander were praised by Cicero (De oratore, i. 16), imitated by Ovid, and frequently quoted by Pliny and other writers. His reputation does not seem justified; his works, as Plutarch says (De audiendis poetis, 16), have nothing poetical about them except the metre, and the style is bombastic and obscure; but they contain some interesting information as to ancient belief on the subjects treated.


J. G. Schneider (1792, 1816); O. Schneider (1856) (with the Scholia); H. Klauser, "De Dicendi Genere.. Nicandri" (Dissertationes Philologicae Vindobonenses, vi. 1898).

The Scholia (from the Gottingen MS.) have been edited by G. Wentzel in Abhandlungen der k. Gesellschaft der Wiss. zu Gottingen, xxxviii. (1892). See also W. Vollgraff, Nikander and Ovid (Groningen, 1909 foil.).

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