Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Hierocles (1), Neoplatonic philosopher
Hierocles (1), a native of a small town in Caria, born at latest c. 275. He was a Neoplatonic philosopher, to be distinguished from the 5th-cent. philosopher HIEROCLES (2). Lactantius supposed him to have been in early life a Christian, as he displayed in his writings such intimate knowledge of Scripture and Christian teaching. He must have been an active and able administrator, as he seems to have risen rapidly by his own exertions. In an inscription at Palmyra (Corp. Inscript. Lat. t. iii. no. 133) his name occurs as ruler of that city under Diocletian and Maximian, Galerius and Constantius being Caesars. Here he probably came in contact with Galerius and impressed the Caesar with a respect for his abilities on his famous Persian expedition, when the first seeds of the persecution were sown, 297–302. The expression reiterated by Lactantius, that he was the "author and adviser of the persecution," lends support to this view. He was translated as prefect in 304 or 305 to Bithynia after the persecution broke out, and in 305 or 306 was promoted to the government of Alexandria, as is proved by the fact that Eusebius records the martyrdom of Aedesius at Alexandria as occurring by his orders a short time after that of Apphianus, which he dates Apr. 2, 306 (cf. Eus. Mart. Pal. cc. iv. v.; Epiphanius, Haer. lxviii.; Assem. Mart. Orient. ii. 195). Hierocles seems to have there displayed the same bloodthirsty cruelty as marked another philosophic persecutor, Theotecnus. He wrote a book against Christianity, entitled Λόγος φιλαλήθης πρὸς τοὺς Χριστιανούς, in which he brought forward various scriptural difficulties and alleged contradictions and instituted comparisons between the life and miracles of Jesus Christ and of Apollonius of Tyana. To this Eusebius replied in a treatise yet extant, Liber contra Hieroclem, wherein he shews that Apollonius was "so far from being comparable to Jesus Christ that he did not deserve to be ranked among the philosophers" (Du Pin, H. E. i. 155, art. "Eusebius"). Duchesne, in an acute treatise on the then lately discovered works of Macarius Magnes (Paris, Klinksieck, 1877), suggests that the work of Hierocles embodied the objections drawn by Porphyry from Holy Scripture, and that the work of Macarius was a reply to them, and suggests that Hierocles wrote his book while ruling at Palmyra before the persecution. Coming from a man in his position, it would carry great weight in the region of the Euphrates. Macarius, therefore, as a dweller in that region (Duchesne, p. ii), and Eusebius, replied. Fleury, H. E. t. ii. 1. viii. § 30; Tillem. Mém. xiii. 333; Hist. des Emp. iv. 307; Neander, H. E. t. i. pp. 201, 240, ed. Bohn; Macar. Mag. ed. Blondel; Mason, Dioclet. Persec. pp. 58, 108; Herzog, Real-Encyc. art. "Hierocles." Dr. Gaisford, of Oxford, pub. in 1852 the treatises of Eusebius against Hierocles and against Marcellus.