Ten — in Roman numerals
Oh come on! How much in history begins with X?
Click on the picture for the long linky list of participants in the A to Z Challenge, which is now drawing to its close.
So Roman numerals. We’re all familiar with these – showing the year of making at the end of films and TV shows if nowhere else. They often figure in dates on sculptures and inscriptions, or on official documents. Anywhere that the makers want a bit of gravitas. Having the date in roman numerals adds the weight of history and tradition even if the way the information is presented makes it more confusing.
So what do these letters standing in for numbers mean?
Numbers one to ten are quite easy. They are made up from combinations of the three figures I, V and X
I, II and III are straightforward, but these numbers were designed to be carved into stone so reducing the number of strokes is a must. Consequently 4 is depicted as ‘one less than five’ – IV. V is five, VI – one more than five – is six and VII is seven. eight i usually depicted as VIII, then nine is one less than ten so IX. Ten = X.
That pattern continues through the teens and tens. 14=XIV, 23 = XXIII, 38 = XXXVIII, which is very ungainly, then a new figure is introduced.
L stands for 50 so 40 = XL, ‘ten less than fifty’ , 41 = XLI, 47 = XLVII and 49 can be shown as IL.
Sixty is LX. 72 = LXXII. 84 = LXXXIV.
One hundred is C, so 90 = XC. Five hundred is D, so 432 = CDXXXII and 748 = DCCXLVIII. One thousand is M, so 923 = CMXXIII and 1246 = MCCXLIV.
I can translate dates and single numbers easily enough but I’m AMAZED at the mathematical tricks done by Roman bankers and engineers. There’s no carrying one across and adding up the columns. Imagine trying to work out the compound interest on a loan of two million, three hundred and forty thousand sesterces for three years at eleven per cent per annum!