The saying “don’t wrestle with a pig” is a terrible one. A very similar saying, yet dispensing far superior advice, is “don’t strike the King to wound”.
The latter suggests taking on harm can be self-limiting in achieving goals — don’t commit suicide. But the former means what?
That oft-misquoted saying about pigs seems to just emphasize quitting as soon as you start something. Like saying don’t walk up a hill only down.
Is it really wise to advise squeamishness towards any challenge that brings even minimal cost?
In other words, why would you think it wise to run away when someone starts slinging mud? Are you afraid of mud? And does the fact someone else enjoys being in mud change anything?
Makes no sense logically, therefore it’s a saying begging deeper analysis.
Why not defeat an adversary in wrestling and then clean yourself as one would be expected after achieving any task requiring perspiration and exposure?
Consider the following version of the saying, which suggests one is wise to disregard a fear of becoming dirty while working hard to persevere against adversity:
It has been remarked by a wise man that he who wrestles with a hog must expect to be spattered with filth, whether he is vanquished or not. This maxim I have long known and appreciated; nevertheless, there are occasions when it must be disregarded. A man may be attacked in such a way that he is compelled to flagellate his hogship, even at the risk of being contaminated by the unclean beast.
Risk of contamination may be required. Not the most eloquent saying, but a whole heck of a lot better than giving advice to quit something just because it gets hard.