The set of basic symbols in the Roman system of writing numerals
The major set of symbols on which the rest of the Roman numberals were built:
1 = I (one); 5 = V (five);
10 = X (ten); 50 = L (fifty);
100 = C (one hundred); 500 = D (five hundred);
1,000 = M (one thousand); (*) 5,000 = (V) (five thousand);
(*) 10,000 = (X) (ten thousand); (*) 50,000 = (L) (fifty thousand);
(*) 100,000 = (C) (one hundred thousand ); (*) 500,000 = (D) (five hundred thousand);
(*) 1,000,000 = (M) (one million).
(*) Numbers were also written with a bar above or between two vertical bars. We prefer writing of these larger numerals between brackets, ie: "(" and ")", because: 1) it's easier for the computer users and 2) it also avoids any possible confusion between a vertical bar "|" and a Roman numeral "I" (I = 1).
(*) Numerals written between brackets, ie: (L) = 50,000; the logic is that the initial numeral was multiplied by 1,000, in our case L = 50, (L) = L × 1,000 = 50 × 1,000 = 50,000.
(*) Romans did not use right from the beginning numerals that were larger than 3,999; besides, they had initially no representation for these larger numbers:
- 5,000 = (V), 10,000 = (X), 50,000 = (L), 100,000 = (C), 500,000 = (D), 1,000,000 = (M).
These symbols were added later on and for them various different notations were used, not necessarily the ones we've just seen. Thus, initially, the maximum number (the largest number) that could be written using Roman numerals was:
- MMMCMXCIX = 3,999.