Sigma

Sigma [1] (uppercase Σ, lowercase σ, lowercase in word-final position ς; Greek: σίγμα) is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 200. In general mathematics, uppercase is used as an operator for summation. When used at the end of a letter-case word (one that does not use all caps), the final form (ς) is used. In Ὀδυσσεύς (Odysseus), for example, the two lowercase sigmas (σ) in the center of the name are distinct from the word-final sigma (ς) at the end.

The shape (Σς) and alphabetic position of sigma is derived from the Phoenician letter 𐤔 (shin).

Sigma's original name may have been san, but due to the complicated early history of the Greek epichoric alphabets, san came to be identified as a separate letter in the Greek alphabet, represented as Ϻ.[2] Herodotus reports that "san" was the name given by the Dorians to the same letter called "sigma" by the Ionians.[i][3]

According to one hypothesis,[4] the name "sigma" may continue that of Phoenician samekh (𐤎), the letter continued through Greek xi, represented as Ξ. Alternatively, the name may have been a Greek innovation that simply meant 'hissing', from the root of σίζω (sízō, from Proto-Greek *sig-jō 'I hiss').[2]

In handwritten Greek during the Hellenistic period (4th–3rd century BC), the epigraphic form of Σ was simplified into a C-like shape,[5] which has also been found on coins from the 4th century BC onward.[6] This became the universal standard form of sigma during late antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Today, it is known as lunate sigma (uppercase Ϲ, lowercase ϲ), because of its crescent-like shape, and is still widely used in decorative typefaces in Greece, especially in religious and church contexts, as well as in some modern print editions of classical Greek texts.

A dotted lunate sigma (sigma periestigmenon, Ͼ) was used by Aristarchus of Samothrace (220–143 BC) as an editorial sign indicating that the line marked as such is at an incorrect position. Similarly, a reversed sigma (antisigma, Ͻ), may mark a line that is out of place. A dotted antisigma (antisigma periestigmenon, Ͽ) may indicate a line after which rearrangements should be made, or to variant readings of uncertain priority.

In unicode, the above variations of lunate sigma are encoded as U+03F9 Ϲ ; U+03FD Ͻ ; U+03FE Ͼ ; and U+03FF Ͽ

Sigma was adopted in the Old Italic alphabets beginning in the 8th century BC. A simplified three-stroke version, omitting the lowermost stroke, is found already in Western Greek alphabets, and becomes current in classical Etruscan and in Oscan, as well as in the earliest Latin epigraphy (early Latin S), such as the Duenos inscription. The alternation between three and four (and occasionally more than four) strokes is also adopted into the early runic alphabet (early form of the s-rune). Both the Anglo-Saxon runes and the Younger Futhark consistently use the simplified three-stroke version.

The forms of the Coptic letter sima (; 2nd century BC) and of Cyrillic letter es (С; 9th century AD) are derived from lunate sigma.

These characters are used only as mathematical symbols. Stylized Greek text should be encoded using the normal Greek letters, with markup and formatting to indicate text style.