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戰國策 (王力 古代漢語 Wang Li, Classical Chinese)


chrix

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The next text is quite long and full of metaphors, so it's taking a bit long for me to finish it, what with all the busy days before the Chinese New Year break. Let me post some comments and questions on the first paragraphs, though, and hopefully I'll be posting the remainder tomorrow.

First the whole text. I noticed the CTP version is not exactly the same as the one used in Wang Li, and have changed it in some places to fix that.

莊辛謂楚襄王曰:“君王左州侯,右夏侯,輦從鄢陵君與壽陵君,專淫逸侈靡,不顧國政,郢都必危矣。”襄王曰:“先生老悖乎?將以為楚國祅祥乎?”莊辛曰:“臣誠見其必然者也,非敢以為國祅祥也。君王卒幸四子者不衰,楚國必亡矣。臣請辟於趙,淹留以觀之。”

莊辛去之趙,留五月,秦果舉鄢、郢、巫、上蔡、陳之地,襄王流揜於城陽。於是使人發騶,徵莊辛於趙。莊辛曰:“諾。”莊辛至,襄王曰:“寡人不能用先生之言,今事至於此,為之奈何?”莊辛對曰:“臣聞鄙語曰:‘見兔而顧犬,未為晚也;亡羊而補牢,未為遲也。’臣聞昔湯、武以百里昌,桀、紂以天下亡。今楚國雖小,絕長續短,猶以數千里,豈特百里哉?

王獨不見夫蜻蛉乎?六足四翼,飛翔乎天地之間,俛啄蚊虻而食之,仰承甘露而飲之,自以為無患,與人無爭也。不知夫五尺童子,方將調鈆膠絲,加己乎四仞之上,而下為螻蟻食也。

夫蜻蛉其小者也,黃雀因是以。俯噣白粒,仰棲茂樹,鼓翅奮翼,自以為無患,與人無爭也。不知夫公子王孫,左挾彈,右攝丸,將加己乎十仞之上,以其類為招。晝游乎茂樹,夕調乎酸鹹,倏忽之間,墜於公子之手。

夫黃雀其小者也,黃鵠因是以。游於江海,淹乎大沼,府噣鱔鯉,仰嚙蔆衡,奮其六翮,而凌清風,飄搖乎高翔,自以為無患,與人無爭也。不知夫射者,方將脩其碆盧,治其繒繳,將加己乎百仞之上。彼礛磻,引微繳,折清風而抎矣。故晝游乎江河,夕調乎鼎鼐。

夫黃鵠其小者也,蔡聖侯之事因是以。南游乎高陂,北陵乎巫山,飲茹谿流,食湘波之魚,左抱幼妾,右擁嬖女,與之馳騁乎高蔡之中,而不以國家為事。不知夫子發方受命乎宣王,繫己以朱絲而見之也。

蔡聖侯之事其小者也,君王之事因是以。左州侯,右夏侯,輩從鄢陵君與壽陵君,飯封祿之粟,而戴方府之金,與之馳騁乎雲夢之中,而不以天下國家為事。不知夫穰侯方受命乎秦王,填黽塞之內,而投己乎黽塞之外。”

襄王聞之,顏色變作,身體戰慄。於是乃以執珪而授之為陽陵君,與淮北之地也。

Alright, don't be scared, there's a lot of parallel structures in there.

莊辛謂楚襄王曰:

楚襄王 is the son of 懷王, who was captured by the Qin army, who took him to Qin, where he died. 莊辛 is an inhabitant of Chu. (Quick geography reminder: Qin was in the area of what is now Xi'an, while Chu was closer to present-day Wuhan.)

“君王左州侯,右夏侯,輦從鄢陵君與壽陵君,

州侯 and 夏侯 are loyal members of 楚襄王's retinue. 輦 niǎn is an ancient type of cart, pulled by manpower. 從 is to be read as zòng here, meaning 'to follow'. 鄢陵君 and 壽陵君 are two of the King's favourite courtiers.

專淫逸侈靡,不顧國政,郢都必危矣。“

專 means 'only'. 淫逸侈靡 is basically to behave strangely and live wastefully. 郢都 is the capital of Chu.

襄王曰:“先生老悖乎?將以為楚國祅祥乎?”

悖 is 'confused'. A 祅祥 is a bad omen. Note that while 祥 often means 'auspicious', it can also be a neutral word meaning 'omen', and this is the meaning used in this compound. So 祅祥 refers only to bad omens.

莊辛曰:“臣誠見其必然者也,非敢以為國祅祥也。
君王卒幸四子者不衰,楚國必亡矣。

卒幸 means 'to love to death'. But I don't completely understand this. If he does not stop spoiling his four sons, 楚 is doomed. But who are those sons? Or am I missing something here?

臣請辟於趙,淹留以觀之。”

淹留 is a compound word here.

莊辛去之趙,留五月,秦果舉鄢、郢、巫、上蔡、陳之地,

鄢, 郢, 巫, 上蔡 and 陳 are all geographic names. Wang Li points out the Shiji does not record any attacks on 上蔡 nor on 陳, and that the Shiji states conquering the other towns took two years altogether, with the king of Chu fleeing to 陳.

襄王流揜於城陽。

城陽 is present-day 成陽 in 河南. Note the loss of the radical, I wonder how that happened.

於是使人發騶,徵莊辛於趙。

發 is 'to despatch'. 騶 here probably refers to a messenger on horseback.

莊辛曰:“諾。” 莊辛至,襄王曰:“寡人不能用先生之言,今事至於此,為之奈何?”

諾 makes another appearance.

莊辛對曰:“臣聞鄙語曰:

A 鄙語 is simply an idiomatic expression.

‘見兔而顧犬,未為晚也;亡羊而補牢,未為遲也。’

Cute. A 牢 is a sheepfold.

臣聞昔湯、武以百里昌,桀、紂以天下亡。

湯 and 武 were good rulers, while 桀 and 紂 presided over the fall of the Xia and Shang dynasties, respectively.

今楚國雖小,絕長續短,
猶以數千里,豈特百里哉?

What exactly is his point here? He is trying to console the king, who has just lost lost a huge swathe of land. He says that King Tang and King Wu only ruled over small areas, but still managed to be good rulers, unlike the other two mentioned, whose writ extended farther afield. But how does the 豈特 come into this?

王獨不見夫蜻蛉乎?

夫 is a demonstrative here, and a 蜻蛉 is a butterfly. 獨 serves to make this a rhetorical question.

六足四翼,飛翔乎天地之間,

飛翔 gives an impression of 'flying freely', much like fish who swim 從容 in the Zhuangzi.

俛啄蚊虻而食之,仰承甘露而飲之,

啄 is technically 'a beak', which only birds have, so Wang Li says this should not be taken literally.

自以為無患,與人無爭也。
不知夫五尺童子,方將調鈆膠絲,加己乎四仞之上,而下為螻蟻食也。

If I understand correctly, 調鈆膠絲 is a way to catch butterflies and insects, which involves putting a sweet substance on a sticky string of rope, which is attached to a rod. But do correct me if I'm wrong, since all the insect-killing I am ever involved in here on Taiwan consists of swatting mosquitoes. No butterflies for us.

As I said, I hope to be posting comments on the remainder of the text tomorrow.

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The gloss on 城阳 seems to be identifying it with the 成阳 that's used in other texts; it doesn't appear to have been positively identified with any particular modern-day location. Here is a rundown of the various explanations in ancient commentaries, and on this page you can find four possibilities several possibilities, including a location in Xixian, Henan, or in the city of Xinyang, Henan, among others.

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Just the obligatory chengyu remark: this is the source for 亡羊補牢.

州侯 and 夏侯 are loyal members of 楚襄王's retinue. 輦 niǎn is an ancient type of cart, pulled by manpower. 從 is to be read as zòng here, meaning 'to follow'. 鄢陵君 and 壽陵君 are two of the King's favourite courtiers.

The 從 confuses me. Wang Li has zòng, but my dictionaries don't include any meaning for this reading. I guess one of the little discrepancies one has to live with. Does 輦 refer to the chariot of the King? Otherwise I wouldn't see the problem Wang Li raises...

(Also, one of the two supplementary textbooks has it as cóng)

卒幸 means 'to love to death'. But I don't completely understand this. If he does not stop spoiling his four sons, 楚 is doomed. But who are those sons? Or am I missing something here?

I don't think it refers to any sons, but to his four 寵臣

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Thanks for the comments, zhwj and chrix! Much appreciated. chrix, a 輦 would indeed seem to have been the king's chariot.

Here are some comments for the last piece of this text.

夫蜻蛉其小者也,

其小者 'an example on a small scale'

黃雀因是以。

以 = 已

俯噣白粒,仰棲茂樹,鼓翅奮翼,

What exactly do you think 茂樹 is? 噣 'to peck'

自以為無患,與人無爭也。
不知夫公子王孫,左挾彈,右攝丸,將加己乎十仞之上,以其類為招。

類 should have been 頸 according to the annotation Wang Li quotes. 招 is 'a target'. Do you think I would be right in thinking that 公子王孫 referred to children and grandchildren from aristocratic backgrounds, as in, kids who do not have to work and can therefore go out and cause a bit of mischief?

晝游乎茂樹,夕調乎酸鹹,倏忽之間,墜於公子之手。

And what happens to birds that do not watch out? We eat them, of course. 倏忽 shūhū​​ is a compound word meaning 'quickly, abruptly'.

夫黃雀其小者也,黃鵠因是以。

Note the parallel structure.

游於江海,淹乎大沼,

沼 is a pond.

府噣鱔鯉,仰嚙蔆衡,奮其六翮,而凌清風,飄搖乎高翔,

A chance to work on your vocabulary: 鱔 is a 'yellow eel' and a 鯉 is a 'carp'. The former seems to be especially good in preserved soybean paste.

自以為無患,與人無爭也。

An approach seen in many classical Chinese texts, 莊辛 uses the same phrase as above to underline how similar the stories he is telling are. He has to be careful, obviously, not to offend the king by being too direct and blunt, so instead he relies on a gradual approach.

不知夫射者,方將脩其碆盧,治其繒繳,

碆 is a stone-head arrow, but I'm not entirely sure what 盧 is doing here. Wang Li says it is a 黑弓, so I assume a 碆盧 is a particular kind of bow?

將加己乎百仞之上。

As noted above, a gradual approach.

彼礛磻,引微繳,折清風而抎矣。

The CTP says 彼, Wang Li says 被. Quite a difference. And 礛 is not the character used in Wang Li either. Anyway, the point is clear.

故晝游乎江河,夕調乎鼎鼐。

鼎 (dǐng​) and 鼐 (nài) were ancient cooking vessels. Photo of the 毛公鼎, now in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

夫黃鵠其小者也,蔡聖侯之事因是以。

Wang Li has 蔡靈侯, not 聖, but does note some editions have 聖 instead. 蔡 was a fiefdom on the upper reaches of the 准 river.

南游乎高陂,北陵乎巫山,

The 巫 mountains are identified as being in Sichuan, but that's to the north of neither 蔡 nor 成陽. It's also probably quite far from 蔡, at least judging from my map.

飲茹谿流,食湘波之魚,

茹谿 is a stream in the 巫 mountains. 湘波 is the 湘水 in Henan. (This seems a bit strange to me, since they would have been quite far from each other if the 巫 mountains referred to here were indeed in Sichuan.)

左抱幼妾,右擁嬖女,與之馳騁乎高蔡之中,

馳騁 is a compound word.

而不以國家為事。不知夫子發方受命乎宣王,繫己以朱絲而見之也。

According to this text, 子發 had received orders from 宣王 (Wang Li has 靈王) to capture 蔡靈侯, but Wang Li points out the Zuozhuan says this was 棄疾's mission.

蔡聖侯之事其小者也,君王之事因是以。

And there we finally are.

左州侯,右夏侯,輩從鄢陵君與壽陵君,

As earlier.

飯封祿之粟,而戴方府之金,

飯 used as a verb 'to eat' here!

與之馳騁乎雲夢之中,而不以天下國家為事。

Much like 蔡靈侯, right? And if the king disapproved of 蔡靈侯's behaviour, he could not suddenly become angry with 莊辛 now.

不知夫穰侯方受命乎秦王,填黽塞之內,而投己乎黽塞之外。”

ráng. 襄王 could not go to 黽塞, since it was occupied by the 秦 army led by 穰侯.

襄王聞之,顏色變作,身體戰慄。於是乃以執珪而授之為陽陵君,與淮北之地也。

變作 'to change'. 珪, an aristocratic title. The 淮北之地 is part of the territory lost to the 秦 army.

*wipes sweat off his forehead* It's hot today in Taiwan, and we can't switch on our air-conditioning units yet, so the past three hours of looking up rare words in dictionaries were a bit exhausting. But a nice text, albeit difficult. Please forgive any mistakes and do feel free to point them out or add further comments! Oh, I will look up the text in the 新序 Wang Li refers to at the end and post it here tomorrow with some comments, if it's interesting.

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As promised, let me post a link to the 新序 version of this story, which is similar in terms of content, but whose language is quite different. Of course, the content is not exactly the same: there's a rebuke from 莊辛 to the King which is not included in the 戰國策, and 蔡侯's story is also told differently here.

The Sanmin annotations answer the question I had about 豈特: 特 means 只 here. But that's not why I looked up this text: it's because of Wang Li's suggestion to 見劉向新序 on the military campaign. As you can see, the differences are that the 新序 explicitly says the plans to take that piece of territory back were made by 莊辛, and that this text is a bit more specific about the territory taken back. No accounts of heroic battles, however.

I hope to be posting (the first part of) the next text from the 戰國策 tomorrow. Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!

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  • 4 months later...
dumdumdum

'为之驾' probably means 'get him a carriage'. in my understanding '驾' wasnt used as a verb during the warring states. its a noun, meaning either the 'carriage' or the 'driver'. a typical ancient carriage had 3 guys, the driver in the center, the master on the behind right (if i remember correctly) and the guard on the behind left. if its a war carriage, the master which is usually the drummer, stands on the right, the spearman left, and the driver still remains in the center.

so 驾 is either the carriage or the driver. the verb usage probably derived from the 'driver' definition.

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