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(NPPLC) Chapter #12 Assassin-Retainers: 專諸(1)

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xuexiansheng

This thread is for the discussion of chapter twelve in A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese by Paul Rouzer.
Please keep in mind the ground rules posted in the first lesson's thread.
For general discussion and a schedule for the study group, please see the proposal thread.

 

-----------

 

I'll post this week's a little earlier. Hopefully it will inspire a few of you to post your own translations!   :D 

 

 其後百六十有七年而吳有專諸之事。專諸者,吳堂邑人也。伍子胥之亡楚而如吳也,知專諸之能。伍子胥既見吳王僚,說以伐楚之利。吳公子光曰:「彼伍員父兄皆死於楚而員言伐楚,欲自為報私讎也,非能為吳。」吳王乃止。伍子胥知公子光之欲殺吳王僚,乃曰:「彼光將有內志,未可說以外事。」乃進專諸於公子光。光之父曰吳王諸樊。諸樊弟三人:次曰餘祭,次曰夷眛,次曰季子札。諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子,以次傳三弟,欲卒致國于季子札。諸樊既死,傳餘祭。餘祭死,傳夷眛。夷眛死,當傳季子札;季子札逃不肯立,吳人乃立夷眛之子僚為王。公子光曰:「使以兄弟次邪,季子當立;必以子乎,則光真適嗣,當立。」故嘗陰養謀臣以求立。光既得專諸,善客待之。

 

Text stolen from here.

 

I've got an essay to finish off by Wednesday. I'll be back after that with my own fumbling translation, good luck all!

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0帝俊0

i turn it into modern Chinese

此后一百六十七年,吴国有专诸的事迹。 
专诸,是吴国堂邑人。伍子胥逃离楚国前往吴国时,知道专诸有本领。伍子胥进见吴王僚后,用攻打楚国的好处劝说他。吴公子光说:“那个伍员,父亲、哥哥都是被楚国杀死的,伍员才讲攻打楚国,他这是为了报自己的私仇,并不是替吴国打算。”吴王就不再议伐楚的事。伍子胥知道公子光打算杀掉吴王僚,就说:“那个公子光有在国内夺取王位的企图,现在还不能劝说他向国外出兵。”于是就把专诸推荐给公子光。 
公子光的父亲是吴王诸樊。诸樊有三个弟弟:按兄弟次序排,大弟弟叫余祭,二弟弟叫夷眛,最小的弟弟叫季子札。诸樊知道季子札贤明,就不立太子,想依照兄弟的次序把王位传递下去,最后好把国君的位子传给季子札。诸樊死去以后王位传给了余祭。余祭死后,传给夷眛。夷眛死后本当传给季子札,季子札却逃避不肯立为国君,吴国人就拥立夷眛的儿子僚为国君。公子光说:“如果按兄弟的次序,季子当立;如果一定要传给儿子的话,那么我才是真正的嫡子,应当立我为君。”所以他常秘密地供养一些有智谋的人,以便靠他们的帮助取得王位。 
公子光得到专诸以后,像对待宾客一样地好好待他。

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xuexiansheng

After one hundred and seven years, the State of Wu had the Zhuan Zhu affair. Zhuan Zhu was a man of Tangyi in Wu. Wu Zixu escaped from Chu and came to Wu, he knew Zhuan Zhu was capable. After having been granted an audience with King of Wu(Liao), he [tried to persuade] him of the benefits of attacking Chu. Prince Guang of Wu said “This 'Wu-yuan'-guy's father and brother died in Chu and he speaks of attacking Chu--wanting to take revenge for his own sake, [it's not that he is able for the sake of Wu (to carry out his policies).]” King of Wu(Liao) then stopped (listening to Wu Zixu). Wu Zixu knew of Prince Guang's desire to kill King Wu(Liao). Then he said, “This 'General' Guang has private reasons, [he can not be persuaded by external affiars.]” Then, Zhuan Zhu was approached by Prince Guang. Guang's father was called King Wu ZhuFan. He had three younger brothers: the oldest Yuzhai, next Yimo, and next Jizi Zha. ZhuFan and Jizi Zha were worthy but didn't take the throne as the hier apparent, it passed to the third brother and Jizi Zha finally accepted the country. When Zhufan died, the crown passed to Yuzhai. When he died, it passed to Yimo. When he died it passed to Jizi Zha. Jizi Zha fled and wouldn't assume the throne. The people of Wu then put Yimo's son Liao on the throne. Prince Guang said “ If the brother is next, Jizi stand as heir; if the son is, then it would follow that I, [Guang], from the legal wife would stand as heir.” For this plot to try to take the throne he secretly took ministers into his employ. He got Zhuan Zhu, cultivated a relationship and relyed on him.

 

Here is my translation. There were a couple of places that it didn't make much sense. 諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子,以次傳三弟,欲卒致國于季子札。I wasn't sure if there should be a "A...so..B...then..." structure. I'm still working on the balance between keeping the punctuation and just making sure it is clear in English.

 

@O帝俊O Thanks, but we're working on understanding Classical into English in this forum. To go from an original text into a modern translation and then into an English translation may lose some of the purpose of translating.

 

The next text is a continuation of this story. I'll get that up soon.

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somethingfunny

I start class tomorrow so I'm going to try and get lessons 12 and 13 out of the way before then.  I'm not sure how much free time I'll have, but I'll try my best to do one of these a week.

 

I translated this yesterday and I have a lot to talk about.  Firstly, there are a few parts of Xuexiansheng's translation I disagree with:

 

  • The first line should read one hundred and sixty seven years.
  • 乃進專諸於公子光. This is a very troublesome little line indeed.  Firstly, I feel like the verb (进) should come after 专诸 and then we have to decide whether 于 is a preposition or a passive indicator, meaning it could either read "Zhuan Zhu approached to Prince Guang", or "Zhuan Zhu was approached by Prince Guang".  Although I originally went with the former, I think from context that Xuexiansheng is right.
  • "ZhuFan and Jizi Zha were worthy..." I think Xuexiansheng misread 知 as 和 here, so this line should being "Zhufan knew Jizi Zha was worthy..."
  • "it passed to the third brother and Jizi Zha finally accepted the country" I feel like there is a subtle temporal problem here.  I think the original text is saying that when so-and-so dies, then so-and-so will take the crown.  In your translation it reads like Jizi zha has already received the crown before any of his older brothers has died.

 

OK, now we come to the part where we try to understand what the hell is going on.  I feel like this story (up until now at least) is as much about Prince Guang as it is about Zhuan Zhu.  Prince Guang is the son of King Zhufan.  King Zhufan has three younger brothers: Yuzhai, Yimo and Jizi Zha.  Presumably, the line of succession works down the brothers, before reaching the sons, otherwise this situation wouldn't be too much of a problem for Prince Guang - as soon as his father dies, he would become King.  (Note - this is different from the system I am familiar with in the UK where it passes down to first born son of the current Monarch)  One of my big problems here is understanding this line: 諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子. King Zhufan knows his youngest brother Jizi Zha is worthy, but... (1) not currently established as heir apparent? (2) not willing to be heir apparent?

 

Aha! I've been thinking about this for a while and I had typed a load of stuff but I think I've just figured it all out.  The paragraph should be broken up by time like this:  

 

光之父曰吳王諸樊。諸樊弟三人:次曰餘祭,次曰夷眛,次曰季子札。諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子,以次傳三弟,欲卒致國于季子札。諸樊既死,傳餘祭。餘祭死,傳夷眛。夷眛死,當傳季子札;季子札逃不肯立,吳人乃立夷眛之子僚為王

 

(All of this happens in the past - Liao is now King!)

 

其後百六十有七年而吳有專諸之事。專諸者,吳堂邑人也。伍子胥之亡楚而如吳也,知專諸之能。伍子胥既見吳王僚,說以伐楚之利。吳公子光曰:「彼伍員父兄皆死於楚而員言伐楚,欲自為報私讎也,非能為吳。」吳王乃止。伍子胥知公子光之欲殺吳王僚,乃曰:「彼光將有內志,未可說以外事。」乃進專諸於公子光。

 

(Wuzi Xia arrives on the scene and knows Prince Guang's secret - he wants to kill King Liao because he, as Zhufan's son, is the true heir!)

 

公子光曰:「使以兄弟次邪,季子當立;必以子乎,則光真適嗣,當立。」故嘗陰養謀臣以求立。光既得專諸,善客待之。

 

(Prince Guang starts to make his plans and employs Zhuan Zhu.)

 

Wow.  For the past day I've been wondering why they talk about a King Liao and a King Zhufan at the start of the story!

 

OK, I did have a few more things to talk about but I feel like I've probably made a long enough post and I'm pretty chuffed at having realised the two King Liao's are really one person so I'm going to leave it there. 

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somethingfunny

There is one other thing still bothering me about this text.  We are told that "光之父曰吳王諸樊", or Prince Guang's father is called The Wu King Zhufan.  We are then introduced to Zhufan's three younger brothers: Yuzhai, Yimo and Jizi Zha.  However, according to this, Prince Guang is really the son of Yimo!  I'm hoping that this will be revealed in the second part as some big scandal, but more likely I've made some sort of mistake somewhere.

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stapler

My translation attempt. I failed to understand what was going on with Guang so I "cheated" a bit and checked his thread. While I understood the temporal matters I got a bit confused about Guang's relationship to the succession. Key to understanding was somethingfunny's identifying Guang's dad as Zhu Fa.

 

---

 

The story of Zhuan Zhu occurred 167 years later. Zhuan Zhu was a man from the town of Tang in the Wu state. Zhuan Zhu had the ability to see that Wu Zi Xu's desire to destroy the state of Chu was the same as the state of Wu (or, Wu ZI Xi wanted to destroy Chu just like Wu did, and he knew Zhuan Zhu had the ability to do this?). Wu Zi Xu met King Liao of Wu and convinced him of the benefits of attacking Chu. Prince Guang of Wu said "Wu Zi Xu's father and brothers all died in Chu (or killed by Chu depending if 於 is a passive marker?) and this is why he talks about attacking Chu. He does this so he can exact his revenge, not because it will help Wu (or "not because he wants to help Wu"? Not sure about the 能 here). Afterwards the king of Wu refrained from attacking Chu. Wu Zi Xu knew that prince Guang wanted to kill King Liao, so he said: "Guang, you are not able to express publicly what is in your heart". He then presented Zhuan Zhu to prince Guang.  Guang's dad was called Zhu Fa king of Wu (Originally I read this as "Guang's father spoke about the king Zhu Fa of Wu." But this didn't make much sense. Also, usually the 曰 followed by speech is given away by the colon. Then with somethingfunny's help and some rechecking I saw the 曰 has a second meaning "to be called".) Zhu Fa had three sons. One called Yu Zhai, one called Yi Mo, and one called Li Zi Zha. Zhu Fa knew Li Zi Zha was very capable and also did not want to become the crown prince. The succession passed down through the three brothers and was finally offered to Li Zi Zha (or, because there's a 欲 here with no subject, I think this should be read as the king Zhu Fa WANTED Li Zi Zha to become the new king (because he was both capable and not willing to accept it)). After Zhu Fa died the country was passed on to Yu Zhai and then to Yi Mo. After they died it was due to be passed on to Li Zi Zha. Li Zi Zha wasn't willing to accept the throne. So the people of Wu made Yi Mo's son Liao king. Prince Guang said "If the order of succession flowed as it was meant to Li Zi Zha would have become king. If the throne must be given to the sons, then as the son of Zhu Fa's first wife I must take the throne". For this reason Guang started secretly plotting with government ministers to take the throne. After Guang received Zhuan Zhu he treated him as a good retainer.

 

----

 

Seems to me that Guang is Li Zi Zha (according to this text)

 

I actually found the "historical context" section of the notes the most important thing for being able to easily understand what is going on in this text. Really starting to feel the burden of not having the kind of cultural history the average Chinese does when approaching these texts.

 

Grammatically I didn't think anything in this paragraph was too challenging or weird. It seems the most difficult thing is making you know the full range of meanings for all the characters. In this case 曰.

 

Okay. Gunna go read everyone's posts to see some of the more detailed translation discussions.
 

 

 

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stapler

I think the one sentence I got really wrong was "彼光將有內志,未可說以外事"

 

彼 needs to be third person. So Wu Zi Fa says "That guy Guang cannot say what is in his heart". He's not talking directly to him. And furthermore, my content translation is wrong. I think it needs to be transalted as "Guang is only thinking about domestic affairs (like succession), he cannot be persuaded to talk about foreign affairs (like attacking Chu)" And this is why he gives him Zhuan Zhu (to sort out the domestic affairs, so Wu Zi Fa can then use Wu to attack Chu)

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Daniel Tsui44
On 2014/2/19 at 1:32 AM, xuexiansheng said:

Zhuan Zhu was a man of Tangyi in Wu

Zhuan zhu was born in Tangyi, Wu.

On 2014/2/19 at 1:32 AM, xuexiansheng said:

“This 'General' Guang has private reasons, [he can not be persuaded by external affiars.]”

That guy Guang has a desire for the throne, it's not yet to persuade him with a war against other countries.

On 2014/2/19 at 1:32 AM, xuexiansheng said:

Zhuan Zhu was approached by Prince Guang.

then [he] introduce Zhuan zhu to Prince Guang.

On 2014/2/19 at 1:32 AM, xuexiansheng said:

ZhuFan and Jizi Zha were worthy but didn't take the throne as the hier apparent,

ZhuFan know that Jizi Zha is worthy

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somethingfunny

Hi Daniel,

 

Thanks for your contributions - it's great to have more people in this usually quiet part of the forums.  It would be useful if you could provide some justifications for your corrections.  Most people in this part of the forum (and especially in this series of threads) is interested in learning Classical Chinese, rather than just sharing or talking about it, and as such direct translations aren't that helpful without some explanation.  For example, Xuexiansheng gives a literal translation of "專諸者,吳堂邑人也" but you've made a subtle change to indicating that he was born in Tangyi, rather than being a man of  Tangyi - why did you do this?

 

Again with the second comment - you've equated private reasons with a desire for the throne and external affairs as waging wars against other countries.  Can you provide some justification for this?  These kinds of leaps in meaning are useful when providing a translation that reads nicely, but aren't great for people who are trying to understand how the language works and how it should be read.

 

Also, this thread has been here for three years and so some of the questions in the first post will have already been answered (only some though!) so it might be worth picking up on some of the later questions.

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Daniel Tsui44
On 2017/2/8 at 9:03 AM, stapler said:

Zhuan Zhu had the ability to see that Wu Zi Xu's desire to destroy the state of Chu was the same as the state of Wu (or, Wu ZI Xi wanted to destroy Chu just like Wu did, and he knew Zhuan Zhu had the ability to do this?).

 

亡 here means "flee". 如 here means "go to"

 

On 2017/2/8 at 9:03 AM, stapler said:

or killed by Chu depending if 於 is a passive marker?

于 here means "在", "in" is right.

 

On 2017/2/8 at 9:03 AM, stapler said:

Not sure about the 能 here

能 here means "can", "be cable of". 为 here means " for the sake of", "for the benefit of"

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Shandongkid

So I'm working my way through Rouzer and it is so incredible to find these threads where past travellers have pondered over these passages!

 

Like somethingfunny, I found the key to this one in figuring out who's who and realising the second part is historical background. Largely agree with translations provided above. 

 

My two cents worth:

"諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子": I believe 立太子 refers to the practice of a king nominating one of his sons as heir (crown prince). When the king dies, that son succeeds the throne. In this case, Zhu Fan purposely did not do this so that the crown would pass to his younger brothers instead, ultimately to Ji Zi Zha who he considered worthy.  (That 太子 possibly would have been Prince Guang. I feel for the guy)

 

 

"乃進專諸於公子光": i read this with a suppressed subject, that is, "Thus (Wu Zi Xu) presented/introduced Zhuan Zhu to Prince Guang". This makes more sense to me grammatically with 進 being the main verb. Also flows from the previous sentence where Wu Zixu knows of Prince Guang's desire to kill King Liao, and thus he introduces capable man Zhuan Zhu to help Prince Guang achieve what he wants. 

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rylixe

Here is mine. I have tried to retain the odd phrasing of 吴王僚 in the translation. 

 

After this passed 167 years, when the matter of Zhuan Zhu took place in Wu. Zhuan Zhu was a man of Wu, from the town of Tang. When Wuzi Xu fled Chu and went to Wu, he knew Zhuan Zhu’s abilities. Upon being granted an audience with the Wu King named Liao, Wuzi Xu tried to persuade him of the benefits of attacking Chu. But Guang, a prince of Wu, said: That Wu Yuan’s father and brothers all died by Chu’s hands, and now he speaks of attacking Chu. He desires to take revenge for his personal vendetta, and does not act for sake of Wu. Thus the Wu King refrained from attacking Chu.

 

Wuzi Xu knew that Prince Guang wanted to kill King Liao, and thus said: That Guang has internal ambitions, and therefore cannot be persuaded to engage in external affairs. Thus, he offered the services of Zhuan Zhu to Prince Guang.

 

Prince Guang’s father was the Wu King, Zhu Fan. Zhu Fan had three brothers, the eldest was named Yu Zhai, the middle Yi Mo, and the youngest Jizi Zha. Zhu Fan knew that Jizi Zha was worthy, but did not make him the crown prince. Instead, he transmitted the throne one by one to his brothers by their age, intending that the throne would ultimately transmitted to Jizi Zha. Thus, after Zhu Fan died, the throne was transmitted to Yu Zhai. When Yu Zhai died, the throne was transmitted to Yi Mo. When Yi Mo died, it was time to transmit the throne to Jizi Zha. But Jizi Zha escaped and did not consent to establish himself on the throne. Thereupon, the people of Wu established Yi Mo’s son, Liao, as their king.

 

Prince Guang said: Were the throne to be transmitted through brothers, then it is fitting for Jizi to be king. But if transmission should be by sons, then I, Guang, being the true lineal descendent of King Zhu Fan, ought to be king. Thus, he tried to secretly employ retainers to help him obtain the throne. Having obtained Zhuan Zhu, he treated him well as his retainer.

 

 

 

 

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somethingfunny

Good to see this is still useful almost five years after posting it! 

 

Shandongkid and rylixe, you both seem to be going through this at the same time, which is great!  Are you working on it solo, or reading it as part of a class?  I loved working my way through this book and still think about it from time to time.

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rylixe

I'm just self studying, but if anyone wants to study together (@Shandongkid??), let me know!  It's crazy how long things can last on the web. Are you still using your classical Chinese skills, @somethingfunny ? 

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somethingfunny

Not a huge amount.  It's something you really have to keep up with as you're so unlikely to encounter it in everyday life.  Saying that though, I'd say it definitely enriched my knowledge and experience of everyday Chinese.  Also, I'm fairly confident I could pick it up again much easier as I'm now familiar with the grammatical aspect so it would mainly be vocabulary and historical context that I'd need to brush up on - but that varies greatly depending on what you're reading anyway.  I'm sure I'll get back to it one day...

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Shandongkid

I'm self-studying also. I've actually finished going through Rouzer, tough going toward the end there but what a journey! I also enjoyed the assassin-retainer chapters the best, they were like mini-movies. Slowly working my way through 古文觀止 now...

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somethingfunny

How are you doing that?  Just reading it and trying to enjoy it as much as possible, or are you doing translations for yourself as well?

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Shandongkid

Yeah mainly just for enjoyment - reading through multiple times, trying to understand as much as possible before looking at the Mandarin explanation. I might come back to a more rigorous study method later on, but right now taking it pretty easy. 古文觀止 is good in that it presents selections from a variety of texts, so after this I'll probably delve deeper into the ones I like!

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realmayo

I found this text much more difficult than the previous one - I think because working out who is who was very frustrating. But I am sure that's a feature of lots of these kinds of historical texts to it's all good practice! Because it's not "free" (i.e. not effortless) to keep their names in one's head (got to remember the characters - and pronunciation - that make up their name) I find myself skimming them and then having to backtrack and match a second occurrence of someone's name to its first occurence, to remind myself who he is.

 

Also was initially caught out the same way as some of the earlier translations about with words like 如 (had to look it up to remember it can mean "to go"), 使 ("if"), and 進 ("to present sb").

 

Thinking of that second meaning for 如 reminds me of being caught out in the same way by 之 in some earlier chapter. I wonder how many characters there are which have alternative meanings that are hard to remember because another meaning - the one that most corresponds to modern Chinese - dominates in the brain. I thought it was helpful that Rouzer minds us that the "if" meaning for 使 is preserved in 假使 in modern Chinese, so perhaps that's one way of remembering. I remember the phrase "false friends" to describe French words such as "formidable" which doesn't mean "formidable" in modern English. These old Chinese ones are only part-false though!

 

Overall this text was a bit of a slog, and that's even after skimming through it once before, two or three years ago, which was the first time I tried to work through the textbook.

 

Edit:

One part that particularly puzzled me was the in:

諸樊知季子札賢而不立太子

As I understand it, must link two verbs or verb phrases, and it's up to the reader to work out what the relationship between the two is. Here is appears it must be "but", but there's no real reason given for it. Perhaps it's obvious from the context - it would have been inappropriate to pick his third-youngest brother.

Could it be "did not appoint a Crown Price"?

 

Ah! Looking again at the Rouzer vocab list, he writes (about 太子): "In this lesson's text, it says that 諸樊 refused to appoint one of his own sons as heir".

 

So: could it be "He knew Ji Zi zha was very worthy and so did not appoint a Crown Price"?

 

 

 

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somethingfunny
On 3/14/2020 at 1:46 AM, Shandongkid said:

I believe 立太子 refers to the practice of a king nominating one of his sons as heir (crown prince).

 

This is the key piece of information that helps me understand what happens.  Custom has it that the king will 立太子 - appoint a son as heir.  However, Zhu Fan wishes his youngest brother to become king, so he does not 立太子.  He's essentially saying "rather than pass the lineage down to my children, I'll pass it along through my brothers".  By setting this precedent, he knows that eventually his youngest brother Ji Zi Zha will become king.

 

So, while I think it is very reasonable to translate 而不 as "but" (where 而 links the phrases and 不 provides the negation), I think your final translation is best:

 

7 hours ago, realmayo said:

So: could it be "He knew Ji Zi zha was very worthy and so did not appoint a Crown Price"

 

From the context we can see that the choice made is a result of the information given, so "and so" works well.

 

Took my about twenty minutes looking over the passage, notes and other comments to remind myself who everyone was and how they were related.

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