One hundred

It’s my 100th post! Read on for a grab-bag of 100-related topics, including the death of the last apostle, the 100th asteroid, 100-handed gods, and the Germanic “long” hundred.

NASA Earth Observatory [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
One hundred is such a nice satisfying round number. Here are some random trivia points relating to 100.

100 CE: John, the last living apostle of Jesus Christ, died of natural causes (he was the only apostle to die of natural causes). Five books of the New Testament are attributed to him: John, the three Epistles of John, and the Book of Revelation. That last attribution – that John the Apostle was the author of Revelations – is disputed by many modern sources. Instead, it is attributed to John of Patmos or John the Presbyter.

100 BCE: Julius Caesar, the last leader of the Roman Republic, was born.

Different organisations and national bodies have different definitions of where outer space begins, but the Kármán line puts that boundary at 100km above sea level. It’s used by the FAI (World Air Sports Federation) to distinguish between aeronautic and astronautic records; NASA, on the other hand, puts the boundary at just 80km.

Napoleon was famously exiled to the Italian island of Elba after his defeat in the 1814 Battle of Paris. Less than a year later, he was back at the head of an army more than a quarter of a million strong. The period between his return and final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo is known as the Hundred Days (although in reality it was 111 days).

In 1868 the 100th asteroid to be discovered was spotted by Canadian-American astronomer James Craig Watson. He named it Hekate, after the Greek god Hecate and the Greek word hekaton (“hundred”).

Speaking of the Greeks, let’s talk about the Hecatoncheires. In Greek mythology, they were three giants of immense size and power – bigger even than the Titans. They each had a hundred arms (hence the name), and also fifty heads apiece. This must have made them difficult to draw. In the mythological war between the Titans and the Olympians they took the side of the Olympians, and were therefore instrumental in the fall of the Titans and the rise of the Greek pantheon we know and love.

When is a hundred not a hundred? If you were a Germanic people prior to the 15th century, a hundred was 120. 100 was a ten-ty. Not at all confusing. Modern scholars call it a “long hundred” to distinguish the two. The point of transition between the two was especially messy. Check out this excerpt:

The Assize of Weights and Measures, one of England’s statutes of uncertain date from c. 1300, shows both the short and long hundred in competing use: the hundred of kippers is formed by six score [120] fish and the hundred of hemp canvas and linen cloth is formed by six score ells but the hundred of pounds to be used in measuring bulk goods is five times twenty and the hundred of fresh herring is five score [100] fish.

[Thanks to Michelle Laughran for corrections to the original post.]

3 Replies to “One hundred”

  1. John the author of the Gospel and John the author of Revelation is generally recognized to be two different people. But the initial confusion was enough to contribute to the Book of Revelation being considered canonical…

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