(1784 – 1833)
Gnedich Nikolai Ivanovich (1784 – 1833), poet, translator. Born February 2 (13 N. s.) In Poltava in a wealthy noble family. In 1793 he was admitted to the Poltava Theological Seminary, then studied at the Kharkov Collegium, after which he enrolled at 1800 in the Noble Board at the Moscow University. He always studied with great interest, devoted much time to the ancient Greek language and literature. From a young age, he became famous for translating French plays. In 1802 he left for Petersburg, where he received a rather modest post of an official in the Department of Public Education.
Literary interests and a good knowledge of the ancient Greek and several European languages early determined his path as an interpreter. He spoke both with translations and with original poems in magazines published by members of the Free Society of Lovers of Sciences and Arts, with whom he approached.
Since 1811 for many years he served in the Imperial Public Library, without interrupting his literary works. The most famous were his poems “Dorm” (free translation from the French odes of Tom, 1804), “Peruvian to the Spaniard” (1805), translation of Voltaire’s tragedy “Tancred” (1810).
In 1807 Gnedich began to translate the “Iliad” of Homer, in which he found “all aspects of life heroic.” This work he gave 20 years. To translate the poem, he had to “find the inner possibilities of Russian verse,” capable of expressing the meaning and spirit of ancient images, ancient world outlook and worldview. He stopped at the Russian hexameter as a size capable of conveying Homer’s verse.
In the memory of subsequent generations, Gnedich remained primarily as the author of the first complete poetic translation of the Iliad. “With the name of Gnedich,” wrote Belinsky, “the thought of one of those great exploits that constitute the eternal acquisition and eternal glory of literatures is being combined. The translation of Gnedich’s Iliad into Russian is a merit for which there is no worthy reward.”
After the publication of the Iliad, Gnedich published a collection of poems (1832), which included 77 works written in the last years of his life.
After a serious illness on February 3 (15 N.), 1833 N. Gnedich passed away.
A short biography from the book: Russian writers and poets. A short biographical dictionary. Moscow, 2000.