By F. N. David
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Extra resources for Games, Gods and Gambling: A History of Probability and Statistical Ideas
Various other authors have been suggested a t varying dates up to the end of the fifteenth century. The writing of the numbers themselves in this document is interesting. D. 480-525) who wrote it 5. The partitional falls of the dice are written down in diagrammatic form, probably by a later commentator. There are 56 such cases. The relevant passage in the text of the poem may be translated as fbllows : If all three numbers are alike there are six possibilities ; if two are alike and the other different there are 30 cases, because the pair can be chosen in six ways, and the other in five ; and if all three are different there are 20 ways, because 30 times 4 is 120 but each possibility arises in 6 ways.
This being so there would be no need to calculate probabilities or even to consider the relative values of the different throws because the random element would be missing. This would be in keeping with the attitude of the priest as the inter- THE P R O B A B L E 23 preter of the divine intent. Another possibility is that the calculation of these probabilities was in fact carried out but that it was part of the mystery of the craft and not divulged. This is not so likely as the first, for with the changeover to Christianity someone would undoubtedly have talked.
One might hazard a guess and say that as the numbers are mentioned not necessarily in ascending order, this would indicate that there was to be a definite order in the fall of the astragali and in the interpretation of the throw. Reflection however prompts the thought that 46 tablets would be necessary if all eventualities were to be covered. This oracle seems to have been kinder than many in that the throw of child-eating Cronos is more difficult to attain than the others. According to Waddell,* something of the same system was practised in Tibet at the end of the last century, this time re- * L.
Games, Gods and Gambling: A History of Probability and Statistical Ideas by F. N. David