What are Roman numerals?
Roman numerals are a system of numbers, which are represented by the combination of letters of the Latin alphabet. The numerical system was the standard way to write numbers in Europe during the late Middle Ages. Roman numbers were useful even after the fall of the Roman Empire, but from the 14th century, Hindu-Arabs replaced them because it was a convenient system. The substitution process was slow, making the use of Roman numerals to have persistent use in minor applications in modern days. The following are the symbols that provide the basics of Roman numerals in contemporary methods:
|Symbol of the Roman numeral system||Decimal system value|
The standard forms of Roman numerals are the current use of Roman numerals with universal convention. Numbers in Roman numerals contain the combination of symbols and the addition of values. For example, I is the Roman number for one and II is the Roman number for two. The formation of II involves the combination of two Roman letters for one. Similarly, III includes three, but VIII is formed through a combination of V (five) and III (three) which means an addition of the value of the symbols. Therefore, the arrangement of Roman numerals is based on the order of symbol values such that the final combination represents the actual value in the decimal system. It is important to note that the system does not require “site maintenance” since each number represents a fixed value and not multiples of one, ten and more per position. The Roman numeral IV (four) is five (V) minus I (one) while VI (six) is five (V) plus one (I).
In addition to the standard forms above, alternative forms of Roman numerals have had their use in ancient Rome with inconsistency in feudal and present times. Typically, the additive forms of Roman symbols are common in inscriptions that date so that the numbers four and nine, for example, are IIII and VIIII respectively instead of IV and IX as in the standard forms. Furthermore, the number eighteen is alternatively written as IIXX or XIIX instead of XVIII since, in Latin, the number is considered as a number which is 22 minus two.
In other alternative forms, V and L have no purpose in the system. Thus, VI and LX would have cases of IIIIII and XXXXXX respectively. In the faces of clocks using Roman numerals, IIII rather than IV usually shows the point of the four, but the position of the nine uses the standard form. The watches that used this format were mostly the first because in current watches, such as the Big Ben in London, they use the standard mode for the four o’clock. Finally, there were several representations of the Roman numerals of 900 during the beginning of the twentieth century. The number is generally CM according to the standard forms, but on some inscribed dates, such as the Saint Louise Art Museum, the 1903 inscription is MDCDIII instead of MCMIII.