Arithmomancy (also known as arithmancy) is derived from the Greek words arithmos (number) and manteia (divination). Considered a precedent of modern day numerology, arithmomancy is a study of letters, numbers, figures and values, with the goal of foreseeing the future.
The technique begins by assigning numbers to letters of the alphabet. Using this code, the numbers in a word are added until a single-digit figure remains.
Names are particularly important in arithmomancy. Numbers resulting from analysing a name are linked to the subject's character, health, social life, finances, etc.
Pythagoras believed that the entire universe was governed by numbers and everything could be explained in numeric terms. Plato was also a follower.
One of the methods used to predict winners at the Greek Olympics or gladiatorial competitions was through examining the numerical values in the names of competitors. Legend has it that arithmomancy was used to foretell Achilles' victory against Hector in the Trojan War.
Hebrews and Caldeans were also practitioners of arithmomancy.
In Christianity the most famous example of word/number association is 666, the number of the Beast. Using arithmomancy and other methods, a number of theories have emerged about who might be "the Beast", including such varied candidates as Martin Luther, Hitler, Pope Leo X, or even the entire Roman Catholic Church.