- By Jim Raymond -
In La Costa Glen there are several clocks in public areas with roman numerals on their faces. These include the clocks in the Montecito and Santa Fe lounges of the Avalon and Monterey Dining Rooms. Residents and staff look at these clocks frequently over a time span of months or years.
As a point of interest we might, as an observer, ask a resident or member of the staff to write down the roman numerals, (without looking), as they appear on the clock in question. In my experience a vast majority of responses will contain the same error. They will write the number four
- just as we were taught in grade school. In fact the numeral four
appears as IIII.
In the early history of Roman numerals four
was written as IIII. The evolution to the IV form is not clear. One of my favorite myths is that in about the 12th century a king decided to eliminate a stroke in the stone carvings and decreed that the number would forevermore be represented as IV (a cost-cutting measure). The change was dutifully made by all (including the stone carvers) except
by the clock makers. They stuck with the old tradition through the 19th century and even to today for those who still prefer “traditional” clock faces. It has also been suggested that Louis XIV insisted that the clockmakers keep IIII because it was more pleasing to him. I find this rather incongruous for Louis XIV. Traditional clock faces can be observed by noting the historical clocks of Europe (including Big Ben in London).
I failed the IIII tests at my first trial but learned a message - we look
but we don’t see
. I wonder how often this is a problem in our day-to-day life.