1. Location – Name

The city of Eirenopolis, also known as Neronias and Eirenoupolis, is located in eastern Cilicia, to the east of Hierapolis Kastabala, in the modern village of Dünziçi (former Haruniye),1 at the mouth of the Darb al-‛Ain pass, which led from al-Hārūnīya to Germanikeia, 104 km SE of Adana and 29.5 km NE of Osmaniye.2 The site is a little higher than Hierapolis Kastabala and Anazarbus, on the mountain preventing access to the Cilician plain from the east. The road leading there is narrow and rough, surrounded by high mountains. A natural spring is near the area.

Theodoret of Cyrus confirms that the two names, Eirenopolis and Neronias, apparently refer to the same city.3 Nothing is known about the reasons the city was named “Eirenopolis”. Modern literature suggests the connection of the second name, “Neronias”, reported in the bishop catalogues of the mid-4th century AD but not appearing on contemporary city coins, with a Roman emperor or a saint or bishop.4 According to the prevalent view, the short name “Neronias” conferred honours on either the Roman Emperor Claudius (41-57AD), who was called Nero, or Nero himself (54-68 AD), in Claudius’ years or even later.5 The introduction of the new name in Claudius’ years is in harmony with the generalised tendency towards renaming various cities in that period. In this particular case, the renamed city of Eirenopolis has been connected with the restoration of Antiochus IV of Commagene. Written sources report that the city was renamed while the bishop Narcissus was in office.6

It seems that the end of Narcissus’ term in office signalled the end of the name “Neronias” for the city.7 However, coins today attributed to the city first appeared in 92/93 AD, during Domitian’s reign, were still minted until the reign of Gallienus (253-268 AD) and carried only the name “Irenopolis”. Besides, the absence of the name “Neronias” from the Roman imperial coins does not befit the financial needs of the city from the 1st to the 3rd century AD. The city was still inhabited in the Byzantine period.

2. Coinage – Religion

It is doubtful whether the coins minted in the name of Eirenopolis are connected with the specific city or with the city bearing the same name in western Cilicia. Although the change of name in the Cilician Eirenopolis to Neronias in the mid-4th century AD led a great number of researchers to attribute the coins with the inscription (Ε) ΙΡΗΝΟΠΟΛ(Ε)ΙΤΩΝ to the Eirenopolis of western Cilicia, today these coins are rather connected with the city of eastern Cilicia.8 Bronze coins issued in Domitian’s years (81-96 AD) are also attributed to the city of eastern Cilicia.9 According to numismatic evidence, the city adopted a special chronological system, which recent research believes was introduced in 51 AD.10

Finally, the numismatic iconography provides information about the gods worshipped in the city. Asclepius and Hygeia are present in all coins minted during imperial times. The cult of the two gods in the city may be connected with the natural spring of the area and the important sanctuary of Asclepius in the neighbouring city of Aigeai.11 Other gods were Cronus, Herakles, Eirene-Nemesis and Athena. The Severan years saw the representations of the goddess Demeter (bust with a torch or the goddess on a chariot), Zeus, Helios on a quadriga and Apollo standing, while the first mention of religious games is dated to the same period. Another important iconographical representation added in the years of Gordian III (238-244 AD) was the head of Helios and Selene in front of a half moon.

1. RΒΚ 4 (1984) p. 185, see entry Kommagene – Kilikien – Isaurien (F. Hild).

2. E. Honigmann’s identification of Irenopolis with Bagdacik, the ”little Irenopolis” (in contrast to the “great Irenopolis”), 25 km NE of Osmaniye on the way to Hasanbeyli, is false because the area is called Buğdaycik: Honigmann, Ε., “Νeronias – Irenopolis in Eastern Cilicia”, Byzantion 20 (1950) pp. 39 – 61.

3. Hist. Eccl. I.7. Seyrig underlines the concurrent existence of Irenopolis and Neronias in Cilicia and Palestine: Seyrig, H., “Irenopolis – Neronias – Sepphoris”, NC6 10 (1950) 284‑289, p. 288.

4. Τhe first to propose the connection of the name Neronias with a saint or bishop was Ramsay, W .M., “Antiquities of the Southern Phrygia and the Border Lands”, AJA 4 (1888) pp. 6-21, see particul. from p. 18 onwards.

5. Robert, L., Villes d’ Asie Mineure (Paris 1962) p. 320; Κarbach, F.B., “Die Münzprägung der Stadt Eirenopolis in Ostkilikien”, JNG 42-3 (1992-3) p. 85, n. 6. The assumption made by Honigmann that the city of Neronias was renamed “Irenopolis” between 357 and 395 BC is not widely accepted by recent research: Honigmann, E., “Νeronias – Irenopolis in Eastern Cilicia”, Byzantion 20 (1955) pp. 39-61.

6. Narcissus participated (as Νarcissus Neroniadis Ciliciae) in the councils of Ankara and Neocaesarea in 314 AD and Nicaea in 325 AD (as Νάρκισσος Νερωνιάδος and, wrongly under no. 93, as Νάρκισσος Ειρηνουπόλεως); he was included (as bishop of Irenopolis of Cilicia) in 341 in the catalogue of the Council of Antioch.

7. Irenopolis is reported in other sources too (e.g. Not. Dign. Or. XI.24; Hierocles, 705, 8; Not. Episc. I 822. The completed forms επίσκ(οπος) τ[ης Ιρηνοπ] όλ [εως] in the decree issued by Caesar Leo I, 457-474) CIG 8619 from Korykos is quite doubtful.

8. Κarbach justifies this view underlining that the chronology of the coins carrying the phrase (Ε)ΙΡΗΝΟΠΟΛ(Ε)ΙΤΩΝ according to a local chronological system has no equivalent in western Cilicia and, unlike to anything believed until today, another case of metric values appearing on coins of eastern Cilicia is also known: Karbach, F.-B., “Die Münzprägung der Stadt Eirenopolis in Ostkilikien”, JNG 42-43 (1992-1993) 83-145, mainly 85-86. However, because the coins of Irenopolis might be the only known case in which a local chronological system is used by a city of western Cilicia, these views should not be taken for granted.

9. Three-assarion coins, coins valuing one and a half assarion, assarion, hemi-assarion: Κarbach, F.‑B., “Die Münzprägung der Stadt Eirenopolis in Ostkilikien”, JNG 42 ‑ 43 (1992‑3) pp. 83-145, mainly pp. 88‑89; Βurnett, A., Amandry, M., Ripollès, P., Roman Provincial Coinage 1 (London ‑ Paris 1992) pp. 257‑8. The coins issued in Nero’s years and attributed to the same city have now been attributed to Irenopolis – Neronias – Sepphoris: Βurnett, A., Amandry, M., Ripollès, P., Roman Provincial Coinage 1 (London – Paris 1992) pp. 561, 671, no. 4849‑50; Meshorer, Y., “Sepphoris and Rome”, in O. Mørkholm (ed), Greek Numismatics and Archaeology. Essays in Honour of Margaret Thompson (Wetteren 1979) pp. 159-171, pl. 18. For the initial attribution of these coins to the Cilician Irenopolis, see Seyrig, H., “Irenopolis – Neronias – Sepphoris”, NC6 10 (1950) pp. 284‑289, mainly p. 285; Seyrig, H., “Irenopolis – Neronias – Sepphoris, An Additional Note”, NC6 15 (1955) 157‑159, mainly p. 157.

10. Κarbach, F.-B., “Die Münzprägung der Stadt Eirenopolos in Ostkilikien”, JNG 42‑3 (1992‑3) pp. 83-145.

11. Κarbach, F.-B., “Die Münzprägung der Stadt Eirenopolis in Ostkilikien”, JNG 42 – C43 (1992-3) pp. 83–145, mainly p. 91.