Hermocrates (//; Greek: Ἑρμοκράτης, c. 5th century – 407 BC) was an ancient Syracusan general during the Athenians' Sicilian Expedition in the midst of the Peloponnesian War. He is also remembered as a character in the Timaeus and Critias dialogues of Plato.
The first historical reference to Hermocrates comes from Thucydides, where he appears at the congress of Gela in 424 BC giving a speech demanding the Sicilian Greeks stop their quarrelling. In 415 BC he proposed a coalition that would even include non-Sicilian cities (as well as non-Greek cities such as Carthage) in an alliance against Athens.
He was elected as one of Syracuse's three strategoi, along with Heracleides and Sicanus, but was dismissed from this position after a short period because of his lack of success in battle. Later he was one of the most important advisers to the Spartan general Gylippus, and thus contributed to the victory over Athens during its siege of Syracuse.
In 412 BC he held the position of admiral during the battle of Cyzicus. In this battle, the Spartans and their allies were badly defeated by the Athenians and, as a result, Hermocrates was banned "in absentia". He did not return to Sicily until 408 BC. He died in a street fight after a failed coup in Syracuse in 407 BC.
Other literary appearances
Hermocrates is one of the persons appearing in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias. Plato originally might have planned a third dialogue named Hermocrates, but failed to compose it. F. M. Cornford writes:
"Since the dialogue that was to bear his name was never written, we can only guess why Plato chose him. It is curious to reflect that, while Critias is to recount how the prehistoric Athens of nine thousand years ago had repelled the invasion from Atlantis and saved the Mediterranean peoples from slavery, Hermocrates would be remembered by the Athenians as the man who had repulsed their own greatest effort at imperialist expansion."
- Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War IV 58-65. See also Marchant, E. C. (1933).
- Thucydides VI 32-34.
- Thucydides VI 72-73.
- Thucydides VIII 85.
- Cornford, F. M. (1937), p. 2.
- Xenophon, Hellenika, I 1,27.
- Plutarch, Nicias 16, 28.
- Polyaenus I 43.
- Cornford, F. M. (1937). Plato's Cosmology. London: Lund Humphries. ISBN 0-87220-386-7.
- Marchant, E. C. (1933). "The Speech of Hermocrates". The Classical Review. Cambridge University Press. 47 (2): 65–66. doi:10.1017/s0009840x00061540. JSTOR 701642.
- Westlake, H. D. (1958). "Hermocrates the Syracusan". Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. 41: 239–68.