Well, no. But: Don’t Fear the Gnome
The first philosophical event in the Greek world, the selection of their seven sages, gives the first distinctive and unforgettable characteristic of Greek civilization. Other people have saints, while the Greeks have philosophers. They are right when some state that a people is not defined by its great men it has but by the way it recognizes and honors them.Friedrich Nietzsche
When you hear “gnome,” you probably think of a scary little creature.
That’s because of the Rosicrucians, a 17th-century mystical movement in Europe that said gnomes are little misshapen creatures that live in the bowels of the earth.
But well before the Rosicrucians, the word “gnome” meant something different. It meant a short statement that expresses a general truth, like a proverb or maxim.
There were seven men in ancient Greece who were well-known for the particularly-insightful gnomes attributed to them. These men were called “The Gnomics.” Today, we refer to them as the “Seven Sages of Ancient Greece.” They were philosophers, poets, rulers, statesmen and lawmakers who were renowned for their wisdom.
Actually, there were a lot more than seven.
One ancient writer (Hermippus) said there were 17 of them. That’s probably because ancient Greece was an amalgamation of city-states and different city-states had different lists.
But all the Greeks agreed that wisdom is a great thing. The ancient Greeks’ veneration of the Gnomics was, in the words of Nietzsche quoted above, the “first philosophical event in the Greek world.”
In any event, although there were various lists of Gnomics, the following seven were most often agreed upon: Thales, Solon, Bias, Pittacus of Mytilene, Periander of Corinth, Chilon of Sparta, and Cleobolus of Lindus. The following is a short summary of each Gnomic, along … Read the rest