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October 31st, 2015, 09:51 AM   #1
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4 = iiii?


Several days ago I read an encyclopedia about Weather and Season, and there was an image of a sundial using Roman numerals on it. On the sundial, the number 4 wasn;t written as IV, but IIII. Initially I thought that the writing system of Roman numerals in its early age didn't allow us to substract with the left numbers. Strangely, when I read in the place of the number 9, it was still written as IX and not VIIII. How could it be like this?
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October 31st, 2015, 09:58 AM   #2
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In Renaissance France, King Louis XIV(?) preferred the more balanced look of clocks showing IIII instead of IV. The look quickly became standard.
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November 1st, 2015, 07:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v8archie View Post
In Renaissance France, King Louis XIV(?) preferred the more balanced look of clocks showing IIII instead of IV. The look quickly became standard.
it's good to be King
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November 1st, 2015, 12:06 PM   #4
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As previously alluded to, the Romans didn't use subtractive notation, that was a medieval innovation. Further, the rule that whenever you can subtract you should (though only one 'step' down) is even more modern. So the preference of clock-makers -- for which I've heard the same explanation, that the appearance is more balanced -- is not surprising to me.
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November 1st, 2015, 06:52 PM   #5
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But... weren't sundials invented way before clocks?
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November 1st, 2015, 07:17 PM   #6
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Invented, yes. But they were made since the invention of the clock too. And the aesthetic argument would hold for both.
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November 10th, 2015, 09:20 AM   #7
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This is very helpful. I always thought the person who made the clock in my living room made a mistake. Lol
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November 11th, 2015, 10:19 PM   #8
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Kings are rule-makers... it's good to rule and make new rules.

Last edited by skipjack; November 12th, 2015 at 02:10 AM.
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