Gnomes are mythological creatures and diminutive spirits in Renaissance magic and alchemy, first introduced by Paracelsus in the 16th century and later adopted by more recent authors including those of modern fantasy literature. Their characteristics have been reinterpreted to suit the needs of various story tellers, but are typically said to be a small humanoids that lives underground
- GNOME, n.In North-European mythology, a dwarfish imp inhabiting the interior parts of the earth and having special custody of mineral treasures. Bjorsen, who died in 1765, says gnomes were common enough in the southern parts of Sweden in his boyhood, and he frequently saw them scampering on the hills in the evening twilight. Ludwig Binkerhoof saw three as recently as 1792, in the Black Forest, and Sneddeker avers that in 1803 they drove a party of miners out of a Silesian mine. Basing our computations upon data supplied by these statements, we find that the gnomes were probably extinct as early as 1764.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
- Life is a magic garden. With wondrous softly shining flowers, but between the flowers there are the little gnomes, they frighten me so much, they stand on their heads, and the worst is, they call out to me that I should also stand on my head, every once in a while I try, and I die of embarrassment; but sometimes the gnomes shout that I am doing very well, and that I'm indeed a real gnome myself after all. But on no account I will ever fall for that.
- L. E. J. Brouwer, o C.S. Adama van Scheltema (1906); in Dirk van Dalen (ed.) The Selected Correspondence of L.E.J. Brouwer (2011), p. 23.
- Do I see crowds of men hastening to extinguish a fire? I see not merely uncouth garbs, and fantastic, flickering lights, of lurid hue, like a trampling troop of gnomes—but straightway my mind is filled with thoughts about mutual helpfulness, human sympathy, the common bond of brotherhood, and the mysteriously deep foundations on which society rests; or rather, on which it now reels and totters.
- Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw;
The gnomes direct, to every atom just,
The pungent grains of titillating dust,
Sudden, with starting tears each eye o'erflows,
And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.
- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1712), Canto V, line 81.
- Note that nobody reads every post in linux-kernel. In fact, nobody who expects to have time left over to actually do any real kernel work will read even half. Except Alan Cox, but he's actually not human, but about a thousand gnomes working in under-ground caves in Swansea. None of the individual gnomes read all the postings either, they just work together really well.