Moréas was born in Athens, into a distinguished Greek family; he was the son of a judge. He received a French education, and came to Paris in 1875 to study law. While in France, he began to move in literary circles, and became acquainted with Les Hydropathes, a group of French writers that included Alphonse Allais, Charles Cros, Guy de Maupassant and Léon Bloy.
He published poetry in Lutece and Le Chat noir, and collected his poems into two collections, Les Syrtes ("The Sandbanks") and Cantilenes, which were strongly influenced by Paul Verlaine.
He was initially an adherent of the school of Symbolism and wrote the Symbolist Manifesto (1886), which he published in Le Figaro, in part as a means of distancing the esthetic of the rising generation of young writers from the "decadent" label that the press had placed on them. He was considered one of the most important Symbolist poets until the early 1890s. In 1891 as Symbolism became more openly associated with anarchism, he published Le Pelerin passione; which rejected northern European and Germanic influences, such as Romanticism (as well as some aspects of Symbolism), in favor of Roman and Greek influences. This work laid the foundation for the Ecole Romane whose esthetic provided Charles Maurras with the ideological framework for the far-right Action Française.
He also wrote Les Demoiselles Goubert, a novel, in connection with Paul Adam.
His most important publications were:
- Les Syrtes (1884)
- Les Cantilènes (1886)
- Le Pelerin passione (1891)
- Stances (1893)
- Contes de la vielle France (1904)
Poems of Jean Moreas (in French): http://poesie.webnet.fr/auteurs/moreas.html
- A. Embiricos, Les étapes de Jean Moréas, Lausanne, 1948
- R. Georgin, Jean Moréas, Paris, 1930
- Jean de Gourmont, Jean Moréas, Paris, 1905
- Robert Jouanny, Moréas, écrivain français, Paris, Lettres modernes, 1969
- R. Niklaus, Jean Moréas, a critique of his poetry and philosophy, La Haye, 1967
- J. Weber, Jean Moréas u. die französische Tradition, Nuremberg, 1934