The Info List - Roman Numerals

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The numeric system represented by ROMAN NUMERALS originated in ancient Rome and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe well into the Late Middle Ages . Numbers in this system are represented by combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet . Roman numerals, as used today, are based on seven symbols:


VALUE 1 5 10 50 100 500 1,000

The use of Roman numerals continued long after the decline of the Roman Empire . From the 14th century on, Roman numerals began to be replaced in most contexts by the more convenient Hindu-Arabic numerals ; however, this process was gradual, and the use of Roman numerals persists in some minor applications to this day.


* 1 Roman numeric system

* 1.1 Alternative forms

* 2 History

* 2.1 Pre-Roman times and ancient Rome

* 2.1.1 Hypotheses about the origin of Roman numerals

* Tally marks * Hand signals * Intermediate symbols deriving from few original symbols

* 2.2 Middle Ages and Renaissance

* 2.3 Modern use

* 2.3.1 Specific disciplines * 2.3.2 Modern non-English use

* 3 Special values

* 3.1 Zero * 3.2 Fractions

* 3.3 Large numbers

* 3.3.1 Apostrophus * 3.3.2 Vinculum

* 4 See also * 5 References * 6 Sources * 7 External links


The numbers 1 to 10 are usually expressed in Roman numerals as follows: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X.

Numbers are formed by combining symbols and adding the values, so II is two (two ones) and XIII is thirteen (a ten and three ones). Symbols are placed from left to right in order of value, starting with the largest. Because each numeral has a fixed value rather than representing multiples of ten, one hundred and so on, according to _position_, there is no need for "place keeping" zeros, as in numbers like 207 or 1066; those numbers are written as CCVII (two hundreds, a five and two ones) and MLXVI (a thousand, a fifty, a ten, a five and a one).

In a few specific cases, to avoid confusing and hard to read numbers with four characters repeated in succession (such as IIII or XXXX), subtractive notation is used: as in this table:

NUMBER 4 9 40 90 400 900


* I placed before V or X indicates one less, so four is IV (one less than five) and nine is IX (one less than ten) * X placed before L or C indicates ten less, so forty is XL (ten less than fifty) and ninety is XC (ten less than a hundred) * C placed before D or M indicates a hundred less, so four hundred is CD (a hundred less than five hundred) and nine hundred is CM (a hundred less than a thousand)

For example, MCMIV is one thousand nine hundred and four, 1904 (M is a thousand, CM is nine hundred and IV is four).

Some examples of the modern use of Roman numerals include:

* 1954 as MCMLIV, as in the trailer for the movie _The Last Time I Saw Paris _ * 1990 as MCMXC, used as the title of musical project Enigma 's debut album _ MCMXC a.D. _, named after the year of its release. * 2014 as MMXIV, the year of the games of the XXII (22nd) Olympic Winter Games (in Sochi )


A typical clock face with Roman numerals in Bad Salzdetfurth , Germany

The "standard" forms described above reflect typical modern usage rather than a universally accepted convention. Usage in ancient Rome varied greatly and remained inconsistent in medieval and modern times.

* Inscriptions dating from the Roman period sometimes use "additive" forms such as IIII and VIIII for "4" and "9" instead of IV and IX. There are even instances of both forms appearing _within the same document_. * XIIX or IIXX instead of XVIII are sometimes used for "18". The Latin word for "eighteen" is often rendered as the equivalent of "twenty less two", which may be the source of this usage. * Sometimes V and L are not used, with instances such as IIIIII and XXXXXX rather than VI or LX.

An inscription on Admiralty Arch , London. The number is 1910, for which MCMX would be more usual.

* Clock faces that use Roman numerals normally show IIII for four o’clock but IX for nine o’clock, a practice that goes back to very early clocks such as the Wells Cathedral clock of the late 14th century. However, this is far from universal: for example, the clock on the Palace of Westminster in London (aka " Big Ben ") uses IV.

* At the beginning of the 20th century, different representations of 900 (commonly CM) appeared in several inscribed dates. For instance, 1910 is shown on Admiralty Arch , London, as MDCCCCX rather than MCMX, while on the north entrance to the Saint Louis Art Museum , 1903 is inscribed as MDCDIII rather than MCMIII.



Although Roman numerals came to be written with letters of the Roman alphabet, they were originally independent symbols. The Etruscans , for example, used 𐌠, 𐌡, 𐌢, ⋔, 𐌚, and ⊕ for I, V, X, L, C, and M, of which only I and X happened to be letters in their alphabet.

Hypotheses About The Origin Of Roman Numerals

Tally Marks

One hypothesis is that the Etrusco- Roman numerals actually derive from notches on tally sticks , which continued to be used by Italian and Dalmatian shepherds into the 19th century.

Thus, ⟨I⟩ descends not from the letter ⟨I⟩ but from a notch scored across the stick. Every fifth notch was double cut i.e. ⋀, ⋁, ⋋, ⋌, _etc._), and every tenth was cross cut (X), IIIIΛIIIIXIIIIΛIIIIXII...), much like European tally marks today. This produced a positional system: _Eight_ on a counting stick was eight tallies, IIIIΛIII, or the eighth of a longer series of tallies; either way, it could be abbreviated ΛIII (or VIII), as the existence of a Λ implies four prior notches. By extension, _eighteen_ was the eighth tally after the first ten, which could be abbreviated X, and so was XΛIII. Likewise, number _four_ on the stick was the I-notch that could be felt just before the cut of the Λ (V), so it could be written as either IIII or IΛ (IV). Thus the system was neither additive nor subtractive in its conception, but _ordinal _. When the tallies were transferred to writing, the marks were easily identified with the existing Roman letters I, V and X.

The tenth V or X along the stick received an extra stroke. Thus 50 was written variously as N, И, K, Ψ, ⋔, etc., but perhaps most often as a chicken-track shape like a superimposed V and I: ᗐ. This had flattened to ⊥ (an inverted T) by the time of Augustus , and soon thereafter became identified with the graphically similar letter L. Likewise, 100 was variously Ж, ⋉, ⋈, H, or as any of the symbols for 50 above plus an extra stroke. The form Ж (that is, a superimposed X and I like: 𐊌) came to predominate. It was written variously as >I

Links: ------ /wiki/Numeric_system /wiki/Ancient_Rome


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