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Greek numerals



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Greek numerals are a system of representing numbers using letters of the Greek alphabet. They are also known by the names Milesian numerals, Alexandrian numerals, or alphabetic numerals. In modern Greece, they are still in use for ordinal numbers, and in much of the same way that Roman numerals are in the West; for ordinary (cardinal) numbers, Arabic numerals are used.

At first, before it was used more, the Greek alphabet, Linear A and Linear B had used a different system with symbols for 1, 10, 100, 1000 and 10000 operating with the following formula: | = 1, – = 10, ◦ = 100, ¤ = 1000, ☼ = 10000.[1]

The earliest alphabet-related system of numerals used with the Greek letters was a set of the acrophonic Attic numerals, operating much like Roman numerals (which derived from this scheme), with the following formula: Ι = 1, Π = 5, Δ = 10, ΠΔ = 50, Η = 100, ΠΗ = 500, Χ = 1000, ΠΧ = 5000, Μ = 10000 and ΠΜ = 50000.

The acrophonic system was replaced by a new alphabetic system, sometimes called the Ionic numeral system, from the 4th century BC. Each unit (1, 2, …, 9) was assigned a separate letter, each tens (10, 20, …, 90) a separate letter, and each hundreds (100, 200, …, 900) a separate letter. This requires 27 letters, so the 24-letter Greek alphabet was extended by using three obsolete letters: fau ϝ, (also used are [Sigma (letter)|sigma] ϛ or, in modern Greek, ΣΤ) for 6, koppa ϟ for 90, and sampi ϡ for 900.[2] To distinguish numerals from letters they are followed by the "keraia" (Greek κεραίαinsect antenna), a symbol similar to an acute sign (Unicode U+0374).

This alphabetic system operates on the additive principle in which the numeric values of the letters are added together to form the total. For example, 241 is represented as ΣΜΑʹ (200 + 40 + 1).

To represent numbers from 1,000 to 999,999 the same letters are reused to serve as thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands. A "left keraia" (Unicode U+0375, ‘Greek Lower Numeral Sign’) is put in front of thousands to distinguish.

Ancient Byzantine Modern Value Ancient Byzantine Modern Value Ancient Byzantine Modern Value Ancient Byzantine Modern Value
Greek Alpha classical.svg α ΑʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 1 Greek Iota classical.svg ι ΙʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 10 Greek Rho classical.svg ρ ΡʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 100 Greek Sampi 1000.svg & Greek Sampi 1000 (2).svg ͵α ͵ΑScript error: No such module "Category handler". 1000
Greek Beta classical.svg β ΒʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 2 Greek Kappa classical.svg κ ΚʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 20 Greek Sigma classical.svg σ ΣʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 200 Greek Beta classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵β ͵ΒScript error: No such module "Category handler". 2000
Greek Gamma classical.svg γ ΓʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 3 Greek Lambda classical.svg λ ΛʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 30 Greek Tau classical.svg τ Τʹ 300 Greek Gamma classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵Greek Gamma 02.svg ͵ΓScript error: No such module "Category handler". 3000
Greek Delta classical.svg δ ΔʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 4 Greek Mu classical.svg μ ΜʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 40 Greek Upsilon classical.svg υ ΥʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 400 Greek Delta classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵Greek Delta classical.svg ͵ΔScript error: No such module "Category handler". 4000
Greek Epsilon classical.svg ε ΕʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 5 Greek Nu classical.svg ν ΝʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 50 Greek Phi classical.svg φ ΦʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 500 Greek Epsilon classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵ε ͵ΕScript error: No such module "Category handler". 5000
Greek Digamma oblique.svg
Greek Digamma angular.svg
Greek Digamma cursive 02.svg & Greek Digamma cursive 04.svg
Greek Digamma cursive 06.svg & Greek Digamma cursive 07.svg
ϚʹScript error: No such module "Category handler".
ΣΤʹScript error: No such module "Category handler".
6 Greek Xi classical.svg ξ Ξʹ 60 Greek Chi classical.svg χ ΧʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 600 Greek Digamma angular.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵Greek Digamma cursive 02.svg & ͵Greek Digamma cursive 04.svg
͵Greek Digamma cursive 06.svg & ͵Greek Digamma cursive 07.svg
͵ϚScript error: No such module "Category handler".
͵ΣΤScript error: No such module "Category handler".
6000
Greek Zeta classical.svg ζ ΖʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 7 Greek Omicron classical.svg ο ΟʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 70 Greek Psi classical.svg ψ ΨʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 700 Greek Zeta classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵ζ ͵ZScript error: No such module "Category handler". 7000
Greek Eta classical.svg η ΗʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 8 Greek Pi classical.svg π ΠʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 80 Greek Omega classical.svg ω ΩʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 800 Greek Eta classical.svgGreek Sampi palaeographic 02.svg ͵η ͵HScript error: No such module "Category handler". 8000
Greek Theta classical.svg θ ΘʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 9 Greek Koppa normal.svg
Greek Koppa cursive 01.svg
Greek Koppa cursive 02.svg & Greek Koppa cursive 04.svg
Greek Koppa cursive 03.svg & Greek Koppa cursive 05.svg
ϞʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 90 Greek Sampi Ionian.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 05.svg & Greek Sampi palaeographic 15.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 06.svg & Greek Sampi palaeographic 09.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 03.svg & Greek Sampi palaeographic 07.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 08.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 10.svg & Greek Sampi palaeographic 11.svg
Greek Sampi palaeographic 14.svg & Greek Sampi palaeographic 13.svg
Sampi.svg
ϠʹScript error: No such module "Category handler". 900 Greek Sampi 9000.svg ͵θ ͵ΘScript error: No such module "Category handler". 9000

Higher numbers

The Greeks also used the myriad to denote 10,000 (Μʹ) and the myriad myriad for one hundred million (ΜΜʹ).

Decimal Symbol Greek numeral
1 Ι ena
5 Π πέντε (bende)
10 Δ δέκα (theka)
100 Η ἧκατόν (ekadon)
1000 Χ χίλιοι (chilio)
10000 Μ μύριοι (myrio)

Other websites

References

  1. Systèmes numéraux en Grèce ancienne: description et mise en perspective historique
  2. "Numerals: Stigma, Koppa, Sampi". http://ptolemy.tlg.uci.edu/~opoudjis/unicode/numerals.html.