Dositej Obradović bigraphy, stories - Translators

Dositej Obradović : biography

February 17, 1742 - 1811

Dositej Dimitrije Obradović ( ; 17 February 1742 – 7 April 1811) was a Serbian author, philosopher, linguist, traveler, polyglot and the first minister of education of Serbia. An influential protagonist of the Serbian national and cultural renaissance, he advocated Enlightenment and rationalist ideas while remaining a Serbian patriot and an adherent of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Founder of modern Serbian literature, he is commonly referred to by his mononym, first name alone. He became a monk in the Serb Orthodox monastery of Hopovo, in the Srem region, and acquired the name Dositej (Dositheus). He translated many European classics, including Aesop's Fables, into Serbian.


Dositej Obradović was born Dimitrije Obradović in 1739 to poor parents in the village of Csák (Serbian: Čakovo; modern-day Ciacova, Timiş County, Romania), in the region of Banat, then part of the Habsburg Empire. His parents died when he was a boy and he began life as an apprentice in the town of Temesvar, not too far from his village. His passion for study was strong, and he spent his spare time reading as soon as the day's work in the shop was over. His reading was mainly restricted to lives of the saints and accounts of the miracles they performed. He became so engrossed in this literature that he considered living in the desert, becoming a saint, and working miracles himself. Once he tried to run away, but was dissuaded by a colleague. His desire for the saintly life was strong, however, and the next time he succeeded.

Obradović was certain he had found the ideal spot for his life of piety at the monastery in Hopovo, from Temesvar. A fellow-apprentice in his shop named Nikola Putin joined Obradović in his adventure. The two boys counted up their money; three grossi was all the capital Obradović possessed and Nikola had no money of his own. Three grossi worth of bread was enough for a two-day journey, but they spent four days on foot. In those days, travel such as this was not uncommon for young Serbians travelling in search of an education; writer and historian Jovan Rajić travelled on foot from Hungary to Russia, a distance of . Obradović and Nikola took the road along the river Begej until they reached the monastery at Hopovo towards the end of July 1757.

At the monastery, Obradović became a monk on 17 February 1757 and was very happy. No more work in the shop; he was free to devote all his time to reading, and since the library was full of sacred books he found himself in the surroundings he sought. His passion for the lives of the saints and his desire to become a saint himself reached their climax at this time. The longer he was there, the more his aspiration gradually waned. Finally, the desire for a saint's halo seemed so preposterous that Obradović dismissed it from his mind altogether. The beautiful, pleasant surroundings of the monastery were very different from the deserts for which Obradović had desired. The other monks fell short of sanctity, and Obradović was unable to overlook their shortcomings; he discovered that his thirst for knowledge was greater than his desire for sanctity. Obradović now desired to leave Hopovo for the world where great libraries abounded and good schools could be found.

After more than three years at Hopovo (where he learned Old Slavonic and classical Greek), Obradović left the monastery. On 2 November 1760 he went to Zagreb, where he mastered Latin. From there he planned to go further afield—perhaps to Russia, where several countrymen had already gone to pursue their studies or to Vienna, where the schools and libraries better suited his needs. Obradović was advised to go to Venetian-occupied Dalmatia first, where he might obtain a position as a schoolmaster and save enough money for further studies abroad. On 2 November 1760 he left the monastery of Hopovo, bound for Hilandar, Mount Athos. He arrived in the Serbian-populated region of inland Dalmatia in the spring of 1761, and was received warmly; Serbian priests from the district of Knin offered him a post as schoolmaster in Golubić. Obradovic's life in this Dalmatian village was idyllic. He was beloved by the villagers and it was a serene, comfortable and kindly atmosphere in which he lived, similar to that which surrounded the Vicar of Wakefield. From Dalmatia he went to Montenegro, then to Albania, Greece, Constantinople, and Asia Minor; stage by stage, always earning a living as a private tutor, Obradović visited all these lands (especially Greece, which was the most prosperous). Ten years (1761–1771) passed since he began his travels. alt=Dositej Obradović, leaning on a table

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