Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs (2002)
52. THE TWO POTS
Perry 513 (Avianus
The banks of a river caved in, tossing two pots into the river where
they were swept away together in the raging waters. Each of the pots had
been created by a different technique from a different material: one was
made of poured bronze and the other was moulded clay. There was thus an
uneasy alliance between the two of them, one fragile and one unbreakable,
as they moved along the winding course of the wandering stream. The bronze
jar solemnly promised to keep her hulking progress at a distance from
the other jar, not wanting to strike and shatter her. The jar of clay,
meanwhile, was afraid that the heavier object might do damage to her lighter
frame, because something slight can put no trust in something superior.
'Although your words are reassuring,' the clay pot said, 'I cannot shake
this fear from my soul. Whether the wave crashes me into you or you into
me, in either case I will be the only victim of the catastrophe.'
Note: There is also a similar image at work in the Bible, Ecclesiasticus
13.3: 'What agreement shall the earthen pot have with the kettle? for
if they knock one against the other, it shall be broken.' (For a modern
instance, compare Lord Steyne's advice to Becky in Thackeray's
Vanity Fair, ch. 48: 'You poor little earthenware pipkin, you want
to swim down the stream along with the great copper kettles.')
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.