Symeon of Polack

(1629, Polack — 1680, Moscow)

Actor of Eastern Slavic culture, spiritual writer, theologian, poet, dramatist, translator.

Born in a prosperous family, he received a brilliant primary education. In 1656 he took his vows to the Polaсk Epiphany convent where during the next 8 years he taught at the brotherhood school. In 1651, he graduated from Kyiv Mohyla Academy, and from Wilno Jesuit Academy in 1653. In 1664, he moved to Moscow where he was warmly welcomed at the royal court and received an opportunity to handle educational activity. In 1667, he was assigned a mentor for the royal children.

In the late 1670s he founded and headed a printing house in the Kremlin. Here he published his ‘The Governing Crosier’ (1667), two collections of works: ‘The Garden of Many Flowers’ (1678) and ‘Rhythmologion’ (1680). He wrote two plays (school dramas): the comedy ‘Action of the Prodigal Son’ and ‘On Nebuchadnezzar the King’. After the enlightener’s death his sermons were published in two books: ‘The Spiritual Midday Meal’ (1681) and ‘The Spiritual Evening Meal’ (1683).

His art represented a distinctive Eastern Slavic type of Baroque culture which was based on the synthesis of medieval and renaissance values on the one hand and on the other, a compromise between Orthodox traditionalism and European rationalism.