Ancient/Classical History/The number 12
I have a question that i would love an answer for. why are the romans so attracted to the number 12? I know they have twelve laws and they made a foot 12 inches and all, but where did it all start? what was the original catalyst that cuased the number 12 to hold so much value? an answer would be greatly appreciated, thank you -Ben
actually the Romans were not so attracted by the number 12, since for example they had 7 kings between 753 BC (when Rome was founded) and 509 BC, and 2 consuls, i.e. two highest magistrates, chosen annually, after the expulsion of the kings in 509 BC and the beginning of the Roman Republic which lasted until 27 BC when Octavian, then called Augustus, became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire until his death in 14 AD. After him there were many emperors until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.
So, as you can see, the number 12 was of little interest to the ancient Romans whose laws from their earliest attempt to create a Code of Law,traditionally dated 451–450 BC, were very accurate and numerous so that they somewhat form still today the basis of many modern legal systems.
As for the twelve laws that you mention, please note that these laws were much more numerous than 12 and were called Law of the Twelve Tables (Latin, “Lex XII Tabularum”) simply because such a code of laws was inscribed on 12 bronze tables, after a commission of ten men (Latin "Decemviri") was appointed (c. 455 BC) to draw up a code of law binding on both the privileged class (patricians) and the common people (plebeians) and which consuls would have to enforce.
So, the Decemviri(=ten men) wrote many laws that filled 10 bronze tables, but this attempt was not entirely satisfactory to the plebeians so that 2 additional tables with other laws were added.
As you can see, this Law of the Twelve Tables was originally composed of 10 tables, not of 12.
Hence the proof that the number 12 was not a cabbalistic number!
In short, you are wrong when you say “I know they have twelve laws”.
As for “a foot 12 inches”, such a Roman unit of measurement based on the length of the human foot, which survives still today in the UK ( where it was brought by the Romans who conquered and ruled England from 43 AD to 410 AD) and in some English-speaking countries, was composed of 12 inches as the inch (“uncia” in Latin, denoting originally the width of a man's thumb) was the twelfth part of a Roman foot (“pes” in Latin) that could be correspond to the length of a man's foot made of 12 man's thumbs approximately.
So, as you can see, the number 12 depends on the length of a man's foot as a standard foot was 12 inches.
To conclude, the Romans were not attracted at all by the number 12 as a cabbalistic number.