Our numbers were dreamt up by Arabs - so they are Arabic Numerals. They are quite curly.
However, the Romans weren't very good at counting so they had to come up with a system of lines for their Numbrals instead.
Fortunately, stright lines are lots easier to carve into stone so dates are often written on buildings in Roman Numbrals. Which is odd because the Arabs have lots of dates...
...and there are no Romans left. Not ancient ones anyway. But that doesn't matter because the Romans didn't have a Numbral for zero so they don't know there are none of them around any more. Just because the Romans didn't have a Nun, doesn't mean that Nuns aren't Roman. In a manner of speaking, most are.
|0||The Romans didn't think nothing was important enough to have something to represent it.||A circle goes round and joins itself back at the beginning. As there are no ends, that can be 'zero.'.||12||XII||Oops - missed one. But this is two lines after ten so you've probably got the idea by now.|
|1||I||A vertical line,
is one line. So it must be "one."
||14||XIV||And - this is four more than ten. And four is IV.|
|2||II||If you've got
another one - then add another line to the first line. So two lines are
||15||XV||Which makes five after ten "fifteen." Or three crocodiles.|
|3||III||Adding another one to the two you've got gives you three. So the Romans just added another line to the two they had. This is getting a bit predictable.||40||XL||...and when the
Romans got to forty they realised they needed a new symbol for fifty.
Forty, you see, is ten less than fifty (50 minus 10). And they had X for ten. So they needed something to put the X in front of.
They chose L (for fifty). So "forty" is X before L.
|4||IV||Aha! Four lines would have been a bit boring. But the Romans knew that four was one before five, so they put one line before their symbol for five, which is:....||47||XLVII||Forty seven
requires Romans to write their symbols for five (V) and two
(II) after their symbols for forty (XL).
So everything starts getting a bit long.
new symbol for "Five." There are five fingers on your hand,
you can form your hand into a V shape (which also allows you to pretend
to be a crocodile). That seems like a good enough reason.
||50||L||Phew - got to
Fifty. Gets simple again.
Presumably they chose L because fifty is Lots or Loads or something in Latin.
|6||VI||Six is one after
five. So they put one line after their symbol for five.
||74||LXXIV||But when you get
to seventy-four, you need fifty and ten and ten and four.
predictably, for seven they just added another one of those lines.
||93||XCIII||And guess what -
ninety is ten (X) before a hundred (or C for Century).. So
ninety is XC.
Plus three lines for "three" of course.
eight follows the rigorous system. Add another line.
three lines after V for "five". Three plus five is eight.
So is five plus three. Very convenient.
|9||IX||And now we are
one before ten. So the Romans put a one before their new
symbol for ten.
||555||DLV||And five hundred
gets its own symbol. This time D. We don't know why
and there are no Romans around to ask.
Add Fifty-five which is fifty plus five.
|10||X||Ten is like five but a V shape (which means five) pointing up and a V shape (another five) pointing down. Two hands - two crocodiles. Five plus five is Ten.||1009||MIX||And a thousand
is M, like millenium. (Don't ask what 5000 would be).
And if the Romans wrote one thousand and nine - it forms a word!
There was already loads of history when Wulfbertie was born. Just think how much more there is now.
|Many of the things Wulfbertie saw in the dark ages are now in the Gloucester museum.||Wulfbertie supports Gloucester (Glewcaster) Cathedral|
drawings by Paul Evans.
|The Brothers, Uncles, Beogren and other adults like to read clever stories at Tilebury|
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