Elves are usually considered not to be hostile to humans but are not to be trifled with, often looking down at the human race as inferior, as we look at pets and other animals. In some mythologies there are also dark elves (svartalfer in Nordic mythology, and popularized by TSR as drow), which are wicked and evil. Elves are enemies of the goblins and are generally said to have a longstanding quarrel with the dwarves.
Elves appear frequently in fantasy literature, for example Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings, as well as being a staple non-human character within almost all other high fantasy settings. They tend to be skilled warriors, particuarly in archery. These elves are typically human-sized, as were those in mythology. As the myths dwindled in memory the elves dwindled in size to become little more than sprites.
In Irish mythology, elves are known as sídhe (pr. shee). Strictly a sídhe is a mound or hill, the dwelling place of the Dé Danaan, the ancient Celtic gods, after their defeat by the Milesians. Thus driven underground these gods were relegated in folk memory to fairies, aes sídhe, the people of the hills.
See also: ELF