Johann Heinrich Voss, a German scholar, born at Sommersdorf, Mecklenburg, Feb. 20, 1751, died in Heidelberg in March, 1826. He became in 1769 a private tutor, and in 1772 went to Gottingen as associate editor of the Musenalmanach, and was a prominent member of the Hainound. He studied there under Heyne, with whom he often differed, which resulted in*life-long enmity. In 1775 he joined Claudius at Wandsbeck, near Hamburg; in 1777 married the youngest sister of Boje, his former associate editor; and in 1778 became rector of the gymnasium at Otterndorf in Hanover. After a protracted controversy with Lichtenberg, a friend of Heyne, on account of Voss's manner of writing Greek names, he published in 1781 his great translation of the Odyssey, which has ever since been the standard German version of that poem. In 1782 he became rector of the gymnasium of Eutin. Here he wrote many elegant original poems, and in 1789 published his edition of Virgil's Georgics with a German version, and a commentary, of which Niebuhr declared that it left nothing for future commentators to do. In' 1793 he published his translation of the Iliad, followed by a revised edition of the Odyssey, which, though perhaps more correct than the previous version, was not so popular.
He now devoted himself to the study of Grecian mythology, mostly in opposition to Heyne's views; and his researches were embodied in his Mythologische Briefe (2 vols. 8vo, Konigsberg, 1794). In 1797he edited the Eclogues of Virgil, accompanied by a translation and a commentary. In 1799 he published a translation of the Aeneid. His original poems, including the famous idyllic narrative Luise, were collected in four volumes in 1802. His health failing, he now resigned his office, received a pension of 600 thalers, lived for some years in retirement at Jena, and in 1803. published in the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung of that city the famous review of Hevne's edition of Homer, which created a great sensation. The elector (afterward grand duke) of Baden having invited him to Heidelberg with an offer of a pension of 1,000 florins, he removed thither in 1805, and produced improved editions of his works, besides numerous new ones, among which were translations of Horace, Ilesiod, Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, Tibullus, Lygdamus, Aristophanes, and Aratus. When 68 years old he began, in conjunction with his sons Heinrich and Abraham, a translation of Shakespeare, which was not completed at the time of his death.
The conversion of his friend Count Friedrich Stolberg to Roman Catholicism led to his essay Wie ward Fritz Stolberg ein Unfreier (1819), in which he attacked the Roman Catholics and the Protestant mystics of Germany. This produced a widespread controversy. Yoss translated much from French and English. His shorter pieces were published in 1829 under the title Kritische Blatter, nebst geographischen Abhandlungen (2 vols., Stuttgart). His son Abraham published Briefe von Johann Ileinrich Voss, mit erlauternden Beilagen (3 vols., 1829-'33). In 1838 appeared a volume of Yoss's Anmerhungen und Bandglossen zu Griechen und Rbmern. His biography has been written by Paulus (1826), Doring (1833), and Herbst (1872 et seq.).