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A simple Roman Numerals chart is attached below.
Number | Roman Numerals | Chart Notes |
1 | I | Like 1 finger. Note that there is no number "0"! 0 was an Arabic invention which came much later. |
2 | II | two fingers |
3 | III | three fingers |
4 | IV | Sometimes shown as IIII but "incorrect". Note how the 1 finger before the 1 hand denotes "-1". ie "one finger short of a hand". You don't get IIV though! |
5 | V | Like an open hand |
6 | VI | 1 hand + 1 finger |
7 | VII | |
8 | VIII | |
9 | IX | 1 finger short of two full hands: 10-1=9 |
10 | X | Two V's back to back make an "X". Two hands' worth of fingers. |
50 | L | |
100 | C | "C" stands for "one hundred". Just like a Century is a hundred years. The C can be used just like the "I", the "X" or the "M": II=2; XX=20; CC=200; MM=2000 |
500 | D | Simple when you understand why: Round brackets which look like a capital "C" around a I mean "multiply by 1000" which makes it look like similar to an "M". A bracket on one side only is which only multiplies the I by half of 1000", ie 500. Notice how the "I" and half bracket looks like a D! |
1000 | M | Simple when you understand why: Brackets around a I mean "multiply by 1000" which makes it look like an "M": . Notice how the brackets in question were very curved, more like a letter "C". |
>4000 | Various | There are various means of denoting larger numbers. These include a bar over the number to multiply by 1000, brackets to imply multiplication by 10, or simply digits in front of the larger symbols to denote simple multiplication of the small vs the large VM=5000 |
It is worth having a few examples to understand how these symbols might have been used.
1) The number 99 would be written as IC: 1 short of 100 is 99!
2) The year 1999 would have been written as MDCCCCIC. ie 1000 + 500 + 100 + 100 + 100 + 100 + 99 (see eg 1)
A keen-eyed reader kindly pointed out a more concise version of 1999: MCMXCIX. Thanks Greg!
3) 2005 would have been written as MMV. ie 1000 + 1000 + 5
4) 498 would be CCCCLXXXXVIII (four 100s + 50 + four 10s + 5 and three I's)
5) 499 would be ID
6) 6000 would be MMMMMM or VIM or VI or (D)M and various other variants.
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"Roman Numerals Chart" was written by Giovanni Milani-Santarpia for www.mariamilani.com - Rome apartments