The Magic of Nine

Dante (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

(Courtesy of Wikipedia)

The folks back in the Dark Ages were filled with wonder by the number nine. Dante’s Divine Comedy is full of references to the magic of this number which added to the mystery of their lives. After all, nine is the square of three which represents the Holy Trinity for Christians. Dante’s Inferno has nine circles, and Purgatory has seven stages representing the seven deadly sins, plus the ante-purgatory (which has three stages!) and the entrance to Paradise — which adds up to nine!  There were also nine celestial spheres in Dante’s Paradise, where “we shall witness what we hold in faith, not told by reason but self-evident; as men perceive an axiom here on earth.” All of this was based on the Ptolemaic system taken together with Church dogma which the Schoolmen, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, espoused. None of this could simply be a coincidence, especially the mysterious nature of the number nine. Think about it:

Multiply 9 by any number and the integers in the product add up to nine. Moreover, multiply any number whatever whose integers add up to nine and the product’s integers add up to nine. Thus, 9 x 8 = 72, and 7+2 = 9. Again, 54 x 356 = 19224. Add those integers and you come back to nine (5+4 added together gives us 9, 1+9+2+2+4 =18, 1+8 = 9). If you take any examples at random, it works out the same. Multiply any number by nine or any product of nine and you always come back to nine!

Further, consider this:










and so forth. Now if you look at the numbers in the left column they take us 1 through 9, going down. But note the numbers in the product: in the tens place we have 0 through 8 going down — and it would continue if we had the space. Moreover, in the far right-hand column the numbers go in reverse from 9 to 1, going down.  And, of course, the integers in the product always add up to nine. The symmetry is marvellous! No wonder the folks back then thought nine was a special number with mystical powers. Fun stuff! Too bad we have lost our sense of mystery. Think how much richer our world would be!


4 thoughts on “The Magic of Nine

  1. Hugh, you reminded me of those wonderful “Schoolhouse Rock” educational commercials that ABC used to during Saturday morning. I think there was one about Nine being a Magical Number, but I may be remembering it incorrectly. Thanks, BTG

  2. And, of course, baseball, the greatest of all sports, has 9 players per team, and games are 9 innings long! “The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:” My two favorite Twins players of all time are Harmon Killebrew (uniform No. 3) and Tony Oliva (No. 6) = No. 9!

    As btg says, Hugh: your blog is very reminiscent of a Schoolhouse Rock episode — learning made enjoyable. Thanks for a day-brightener at the start of my morning! 🙂

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