I saw it referred to as a Latin, Italian, Spanish, and English proverb.
A FRIEND in need is a friend indeed.
Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur
Prietenul la vreme de nevoie se cunoaste.
În vremea necazului se cunosc prietenii.
Var. A friend is never known till a man have need.
A F R I E N D I N N E E D
"The only reward of virtue is virtue;
the only way to have a friend is to be one."
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Who is considered a friend? Is a friend a companion, an acquain-tance, a sympa-thizer, an empathizer, a confidant, comrade, colleague, partner? Is a friend all of these, or more? Are friends two personalities, two spirits acting as one, such as Achilles and Patroclus, Castor and Pol-lux, Damon and Pythias, Hercules and Iolaus, David and Jonathan, Epaminondas and Pelopidas, Nisus and Eurylaus, Pylades and Orestes, The-seus and Pirithous, Christ and His beloved disciple? Who among us can, in our sophisti-cated economic self-interest culture, truly have a friend that is more than just a person we know, someone who is more than a social acquaintance, more than a fellow worker, more than a business as-sociate, more than a recreational companion, more than a com-mon-cause adventurer?
Again, who among us can deny the need for a friend? What mean-ing do we comprehend in the old English proverb, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Is a friend in need a friend who needs help? If so, what sort of help: physical, spiritual, or financial? Is the meaning of help the same as to aid? Is there a significant difference between help and aid? I believe there is, for the term help expresses a much greater dependence and a deeper need than aid. In an extremity one usually cries out God help me! rather than God aid me! In time of danger we cry help! help! rather than aid! aid! The meaning of that old English proverb is, apparently, the obligatory duty that we stand by someone in trouble, to be ready and will-ing to be of help by disregarding personal inconvenience and/or con-se-quence. To me a friend is one who inspires another to do what human nature and sloth hinders or often prevents. Such a friend I have, and I hope I am also such a friend.
http://static.userland.com/gems/amadeus ... n.Need.doc