User:Michael Hardy/Archaic Greek letters

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copied from Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/Language/2011_February_25#What_letter_of_the_alphabet_is_this.3F

What letter of the alphabet is this?[edit]

On page 48 of this pdf file, we see a letter of the Greek alphabet between epsilon and zeta. What is it?

In TeX one can write

 \alpha\beta\gamma\delta\epsilon\zeta\eta\theta\iota\kappa\lambda\mu\nu\xi\omicron\pi\rho\sigma\tau\upsilon\varphi\chi\psi\omega. \,

How does one code this letter I'm inquiring about in TeX? Michael Hardy (talk) 16:56, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Then on pages 55 and 56 we seem to see a letter between pi and rho. What is that? Michael Hardy (talk) 17:00, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
The Greek alphabet in ancient times included stigma and qoppa, which were used as Greek numerals.
Wavelength (talk) 17:17, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. The one between epsilon and zeta does look like Stigma (letter). Michael Hardy (talk) 19:10, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
.....and the later one looks like qoppa. Michael Hardy (talk) 19:12, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't seem to be able to download that pdf file, and the question is hard to answer without it. Looie496 (talk) 18:18, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I just had this exact same question. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 19:15, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
On page 37 at, you can see the following characters.
Wavelength (talk) 19:17, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
From my Google search for tex greek numerals, the first result is, which has, on page 3, instructions for encoding Greek numerals. My attempts to display qoppa and sampi and stigma by encoding in TeX have been unsuccessful.
Wavelength (talk) 20:43, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
[Oddly, the pages mentioned in the original post have lines numbered in sets of five (with Arabic numerals familiar to us), but grouped in sets of three.
Wavelength (talk) 22:38, 25 February 2011 (UTC)]
It was Heiberg's edition of Ptolemy's writings. Apparently Heiberg decided to do it that way. Michael Hardy (talk) 02:32, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Historically, the letter that belongs between epsilon and zeta is digamma. The Greek alphabet was taken over from the Phoenician alphabet, which has the same letters in the same order as the Hebrew alphabet: where Hebrew has he - waw - zayin, Greek has epsilon - digamma - zeta. When digamma was dropped from the alphabet, stigma took its place as a number so that the rest of the alphabet wouldn't be off by one. Similarly, when the Phoenician alphabet was taken over in Italy, these letters were E - F - Z, but later Z was dropped and G (which was a modification of C) took its place. Later, Z was re-borrowed from the Greek alphabet, but had to go to the end because it had gotten out of line. (I couldn't open the PDF directly in my browser either, because it's too big; but I could download it and then open it locally from my hard drive.) —Angr (talk) 02:16, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
If you want the encoding of these characters on Wikipedia to be explained or enabled, you can ask at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical), with a link to the archive of this discussion.
Wavelength (talk) 05:06, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
It would be nice to be able to type these in Wikipedia's limited version of TeX, since one could use them in accounts of the use of ancient Greek numerals in books written 2000 years ago. Michael Hardy (talk) 22:50, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Would you really need TeX encoding for that? As long as they are not part of more intricate mathematical formulae, why not just use standard text encoding? Fut.Perf. 11:19, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you would need TeX if you do it in a context in which not using TeX would mean mixing TeX with non-TeX notation. On Wikipedia, mixing TeX with text usually produces horrible results in which sizes and alignments don't match. Michael Hardy (talk) 17:00, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Our articles on digamma and koppa (letter) have some info about typographical variants. The forms shown in your document should be encoded as U+03DB "Greek small letter stigma" (ϛ) and U+03DF "Greek small letter koppa" (ϟ) respectively, although the results may look rather different depending on what fonts you have. This LaTeX style doc also has some info about LaTeX encodings. Apparently, "\stigma" and "\koppa" are defined in some packages, but I couldn't tell you if there are any that have them in a style compatible with  \alpha\beta\gamma etc. Fut.Perf. 18:20, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Why is “\omicron” not a valid LaTeX entity? -- (talk) 08:18, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Because, in LaTex, it's exactly the same as the roman 'o'. See [1]. Nanonic (talk) 09:28, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
I used \omicron in my initial posting that started this thread, and as you see above, it worked. So \omicron seems to be perfectly valid. Michael Hardy (talk) 17:02, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia doesn't use vanilla LaTex, it uses AMS-LaTeX which contains additional packages and functionality and plugs this into texvc for rendering which also introduces its own functionality. Nanonic (talk) 17:20, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

What about “\Alpha”, “\Beta”, “\Epsilon”, “\Eta”, “\Iota”, “\Kappa”, “\Mu”, “\Nu”, “\Omicron”, “\Rho”, “\Tau”, “\Chi”, and “\Zeta”? -- (talk) 10:07, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

(I'm pretty sure this is the usual why-isn't-X-valid-in-Y person. Probably better to ignore.) -- BenRG (talk) 02:25, 28 February 2011 (UTC)