Monday, November 14, 2011

Gnomes, Sweet Gnomes

In The Fox and the Lion Aesop informs us that “Familiarity breeds contempt”.  Also Aesop, from Hercules and the Wagoner: “The gods help them that help themselves”.  To whatever is in the wagon?  Aristophanes instructs, “You cannot teach a Crab to walk straight”.  So don’t even try.  Stop it.  We call these maxims, proverbs, sayings.  They are also referred to as ‘gnomes'.  Because they’re short?  Nope. This meaning of gnome derives from the Greek ‘gignōskein’: to know.  Aha!  Totally makes sense.  And the little guys?  From the Greek 'genomos', meaning earth-dweller. What were the chances that 'gnome' would have two such different meanings?  Teensy.  But now we know.  To quote Livy, “Better late than never”.

Source:  Encyclopedia of Ancient accessed through Gale Virtual Reference Library.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any relation to genomes?