orthogon wrote:m1el wrote:Titanic XCVIII?
I had a lot of trouble parsing the Roman Numerals, and even once y'all had translated it for me it felt like it violated some rule that I seemed to have imagined. My first thought was that you can't start a number with a "subtractive" element, but obviously I have no problem with IV, IX etc. Then I thought maybe you can do that but you can't go on to append additive elements. But that would be a daft rule and would force you into LXXXXVIII which breaks the "four in a row" rule (the clock in Madrid's Plaza Real notwithstanding).
The "four in a row" rule (which is definitely post-Roman; it's not uncommon to see four in a row on Roman tombstones and I've never actually consciously seen a Roman carving or document using the subtraction method, though Rome is admittedly a bit modern for my tastes and the Greeks had their own weird ways of doing numbers) is frequently broken on clocks for a simple reason: manufacture. If you use "IV" for 4, you need to have 5 Vs, 4 Xes and 17 Is. If you use IIII, you need 4 Vs, 4Xes and 20 Is, so clockmakers could have a mould that made 1xX, 1xV and 5xI and use it four times for each clock and never end up with unnecessary extras.