Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
207. THE CLAY POT AND THE RAIN
Perry 368 (Avianus
Driven by the winds and a heavy build-up of clouds, a great thunderstorm
erupted in a downpour of winter rain. The gale let loose its flood, drowning
the land with water and drenching the work of a potter that had been placed
out in the fields (exposure to warm air begins the process of fixing the
softness of the clay, preparing it to be properly baked when it is set
in the fire). The storm cloud asked the fragile pot by what name she was
called. Heedless of what was going on around her, the pot replied, 'My
name is Amphora, and my gently sloping sides were designed by the potter's
skilful hand, aided by his swiftly spinning wheel.' The cloud replied,
'So far you have managed to retain that form of yours, but a deluge of
rain is about to come down and wash you away.' At that very moment the
flood waters violently shattered the pot and she cracked and split into
pieces, plunging headlong into the watery stream. Unhappy creature: she
claimed to have a lofty name and dared to address the thunderclouds who
were able to launch such arrows of rain!
This illustrative fable will serve to warn poor people not to lament
their fate when it rests in the hands of the high and the mighty.
Note: In Caxton (7.26), it is not the
river but the wind which shatters the pot. When the pot calls herself
an 'amphora,' she is claiming to be a quite superior vessel (Horace,
Ars Poetica 21-2, contrasts the noble amphora with a lowly pot or
Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura
Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.
cover, with new ISBN, published in 2008; contents of book unchanged.