XXX = C

That’s ten times ten equals one hundred, more or less Roman style.

Assuming the empire had an equals sign or even multiplication.

How did they ever do math?

Especially since they didn’t have a zero, which seems to have come into its own, as a number, around the 5th century C.E. in India and worked its way into Europe via the Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa) around the year 1200. That’s the background on what’s considered a full zero, the average of minus one and one.

Before that, the written orb was just a placeholder, like a punctuation mark or the zeros in the Arabic numeral 100. That placeholder usage likely started in Babylon between 400 and 300 B.C.E.

To thicken the plot, an awareness of full zero also originated from scratch in Mayan culture of the New World around the first centuries C.E.

Which is a roundabout way of pointing out that when it came to the radical mathematical concept of nothing (or less), the Romans came up empty.

There wasn’t even a Year Zero, back then. Our current dating system goes from 1 B.C.E. to 1 C.E. That’s why this year technically isn’t the beginning of a new decade, but the final year of one.

Not that we ever were taught any sense of the wonder of all that, back in our math classes. The closest we ever came was the mystifying concept of multiplying anything by zero and watching it disappear.

So back to that XXX = C in the title. I can’t help thinking it looks somehow obscene. Like graffiti.

How about you?

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