Re: Q is a Roman numeral?

From: Ben Scarborough <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 20:13:35 -0600

On Jan 8, 2013 1:08 PM, Frédéric Grosshans wrote:
> Roman numerals have always been more complex than the standard (modern)
> way we've been taught to, and their use spans several millennia, over
> which may variation have occurred. If you look at wiipedia's table for
> middle age and Renaissance,
> ,
> you'll see that many letters of the alphabet have been used as Roman
> numerals. In this table, Q is supposed to stand for 500, but this is not
> necessarily in contradiction with 500,000, since there were several ways
> to go beyond 1000...

Actually, page 417 of Capelli's "Lexicon Abbreviaturarum"
seems to explain the 500 vs. 500,000 discrepancy for Q; namely that a
standard Q is given for 500, and a Q with an elongated tail is given
for 500,000.

I did know of the many letters used as Roman numerals in the middle
ages, but the excerpt from Gordon only discusses what one could call
the "core" set of Roman numerals: I, V, X, L, C, Đ, a symbol for 1,000
not pictured in the excerpt, and ↅ (which I understand was common at
some time). Q definitely stands apart from the rest of that set to me,
because I can't imagine that its use for 500,000 was anywhere as
common as the others.

—Ben Scarborough
Received on Fri Jan 11 2013 - 20:17:44 CST

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