Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Two Pots

The Two Pots is one of Aesop's Fables.

There is a short Greek version of the fable and a longer, more circumstantial late Latin poem by Avianus. The fable is about two pots, one made of clay and the other of metal. Both are being swept along a river. While the metal pot is willing that they should journey together, the clay pot hopes it will keep its distance for ‘Whether the wave crashes me into you or you into me, in either case I will be the only victim’. The moral drawn is that equal partnership is best, and especially that the poor or powerless should avoid the company of the powerful.

In this connection, there is a likeness between the story and a passage in the debated book of Ecclesiasticus that advises caution in such unequal relationships: 'Have no fellowship with one that is richer than thyself. What agreement shall the earthen pot have with the kettle? For if they knock one against the other, it shall be broken' (13.2-3). Since this particular scripture is in Greek and dates from the 2nd century BCE, it is possible that the passage quoted and the fable are both based on a popular proverb.

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