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Roman numeration

The Romans counted according to decimal mathematics, just like we do, but with a different style of writing. It is useful to know this method of writing because we still run across these numbers today. So here is a layout of the numbers so we can remember them.

Numeration

Utilized were only 7 alphabetical symbols to form all numbers, placed before or after a symbol to subtract or sum among them. A small bar above the letter adds 1,000 of the expressed value. Zero has no symbol.

I = 1
V = 5
X = 10
L = 50
C = 100
D = 500
M = 1.000

When two letters (numbers) are adjacent; if the lesser number is to the right it is added to that of the left, while if the lesser is to the left, it is subtracted from that on the right. Therefore, VI = 6 and IV = 4. Exception are rare.
Some rules have been added as follows: 3 identical symbols are never attached (and never repeat V or L), a lesser number must proceed a larger one that is a maximum of ten times the difference of the previous number (so today we are in MCMXCIX and not MIM).

Vocal correspondence of the cardinal numbers

1
unus
19
undeviginti
2
duo
20
viginti
3
tres
30
triginta
4
quattuor
40
quadraginta
5
quinque
50
quinquaginta  
6
sex
60
sexaginta
7
septem
70
septuaginta
8
octo
80
octoginta
9
novem
90
nonaginta
10
decem
100
centum
11
undecim
200
ducenti
12
duodecim
300
 trecenti
13
tredecim
400
quadrigenti
14
quattuordecim
500
quingenti
15
quindecim
600
sescenti
16
sedecim
700
septingenti
17
septendecim
800
octingenti
18
duodeviginti
900
nongenti
1000
mille


The declination of numbers

Masculine Feminine Neutral
Name unus una unum
Genitive unius unius unius
Dative uni uni uni
Accusative unum unam unum
Ablative uno una uno
Masculine Feminine Neutral
Name duo duae duo
Genitive duorum duarum duorum
Dative duobus duabus duobus
Accusative duos duas duo
Ablative duobus duabus duobus
Masculine Feminine Neutral
Name tres tria
Genitive trium trium
Dative tribus tribus
Accusative tres tria
Ablative tribus tribus
  • 2000 = duo milia
  • 3000 = tria milia
  • 4000 = quattuor milia

Hours of the day

The primitive Romans didn't have the possibility to exactly measure the time and based the hour principally on the rising, the position, and the setting of the sun. Only three moments were defined: the dawn ("solis Ortus"), noon ("meridies"), and dusk ("solis occasus"). The day was divided into two parts: morning ("ante Meridiem") and evening ("post meridium"), still used today in the English language as AM/PM.
In 263 B.C. the sundial ("solarium") was introduced in Sicily and installed in the Forum area. This allowed the day to be divided into 12 numbered hours ("horae"), followed by a.m. or p.m., with each hour divided into 60 minutes.
The hourglass ("clepsydra") followed this, also called the "horologium". This was used by the military to divide the guard's ("vigilae") shifts.


> Celebrated sayings and proverbs

> Calendar of Roman holidays

> Quiz for visiting the Imperial Forums

> Antique Rome in the modern cinema


In the other chapters you can find news on the advancement in archeological excavation in the Imperial Forum area, the history of Rome, and the daily life and habits of the Antique Romans. Select a chapter from the four titles in the black column on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

Age of the Emperors

Recovering the Forums
Virtual Tour
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Comune di Roma Canon

 


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