Hellenistic Treatise on Poisonous Animals (the Theriaca of Nicander of Colophon) a Contribution to the History of Toxicology

Author: Knoefel, Peter
Covi, C.
Evidence is given here that Nicander was artist-poet-naturalist-physician, that he was libelled as merely a versifier and metaphrast, that his depiction of poisonous serpents and the effects of their venom on man was original and veracious: that his work has had recognition from and influence on writers about serpents for centuries.


". . . the authors review all the ancient treatises, ranged in chronological order, that cite Nicander at greater or lesser length, from Celsus up to Paul of Aegina - not less than thirteen authors. . . . Next follows a section . . . . on Nicander as scientist, physician, and poet. Happily brief, this part is followed by another, more ample, on Nicander's poetic heritage, which starts with Virgil and ends with Keats, and includes ten authors, among them Dante, Ronsard, and Shakespeare. . . . there follow nineteen plates referring to snakes, derived from sculpture, manuscripts, paintings, and prints of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and copious appendices that risk constituting the most interesting part of the work, in any case, the richest part of the information. What treasures are assembled here. . . . a quantity of interesting material on an author about whom not everything has been said." - Society for Ancient Medicine