Friday Fable: Phaedrus’ “The Cock and the Pearl”*

Posted by jlubans on September 13, 2013

Caption: This Aesopic Steinhowel illustration (ca. 1500) is from a hand-colored edition at the University of Munich.

“A cock was digging desultorily on a dunghill,
Foraging for food, when he found a pearl.
‘How splendid,’ he said, ‘in such sordid surroundings!
If anyone interested in your intrinsic value
Had come across you, what a coup it would have been –
You’d soon have been restored to your appropriate setting.
Bad luck to be liberated by a lout like me,
Who am far more intent on finding food:
We’re neither of us any use to the other.’

For people who fail to appreciate my work.”

“Pearls before swine”, sayeth the parablist. And so it may be with any “pearl” on the Internet. Not only does something good have to compete with so much god-awful stuff; many users are looking for the god-awful. So, like Phaedrus, in his epimythium, one’s hard work and effort can go unappreciated. Venue matters: the pearl glows in the jeweler’s window and blog entries may dazzle when edited into book format (the codex).
And so it is in any workplace, a library or a factory. A leader’s role is to glean the good ideas from however barren a field. She fans the spark of a good idea into a flame and succumbs not to the plentiful reasons (a ratio often 10:1) not to try out a new idea.

*Source: The Fables of Phaedrus. Translated by P. F. Widdows.
Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1992. p. 70. For more about Phaedrus see The Proud Frog.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: University of West Florida

Copyright John Lubans 2013

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