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(NPPLC) Chapter #13 Assassin-Retainers: 專諸(2)

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xuexiansheng

This thread is for the discussion of chapter thirteen 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.

 

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Last chapter we had a cliffhanger! Wu Zixu got dismissed as a self-satisfying schemer, we learned of Prince Guang's secret desire for the throne, and how he has taken on the mysterious and capable assassin from Tangyi: Zhuan Zhu (for what purpose!?) We'll see what happens in this exciting conclusion! [This summary assumes that I translated the last chapter correctly.] :tong 

 

九年而楚平王死。春,吳王僚欲因楚喪,使其二弟公子蓋餘、屬庸將兵圍楚之灊;使延陵季子於晉,以觀諸侯之變。楚發兵絕吳將蓋餘、屬庸路,吳兵不得還。於是公子光謂專諸曰:「此時不可失,不求何獲!且光真王嗣,當立,季子雖來,不吾廢也。」專諸曰:「王僚可殺也。母老子弱,而兩弟將兵伐楚,楚絕其後。方今吳外困於楚,而內空無骨鯁之臣,是無如我何。」公子光頓首曰:「光之身,子之身也。」四月丙子,光伏甲士於窟室中,而具酒請王僚。王僚使兵陳自宮至光之家,門戶階陛左右,皆王僚之親戚也。夾立侍,皆持長鈹。酒既酣,公子光詳為足疾,入窟室中,使專諸置匕首魚炙之腹中而進之。既至王前,專諸擘魚,因以匕首刺王僚,王僚立死。左右亦殺專諸,王人擾亂。公子光出其伏甲以攻王僚之徒,盡滅之,遂自立為王,是為闔閭。闔閭乃封專諸之子以為上卿。

 

Text stolen from here.

 

I'm supposed to be reading books 4 and 5 of Story of the Stone this week, so I'll get to my translation when I can. Good luck to any and all who are still working on this book!

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somethingfunny

OK, I managed to get this one done as well this weekend.  Now I realise that Xuexiansheng never actually got round to providing his own translation meaning I will have to provide my own attempt.  Be warned:  This is my own translation, I am not an expert, there will be mistakes in what follows...

 

Nine years later King Ping of Chu died.  In Spring, the Wu king Liao wanted to exploit the mourning of Chu and sent his two younger brothers, Gaiyu and Shuyong, to command the army and surround Qian in the state of Chu.  He also sent Jizi to look for any change in the Feudal Lords in Jin.

 

Chu sent out troops to sabotage the road being used by the Wu commanders Gaiyu and Shuyong, preventing their ability to retreat home.  Upon this Prince Guang said to Zhuanzhu, "We must not lose this opportunity!  If we don't take it now, how will we achieve our goal?  I am the real heir and I should take the throne.  Even though Jizi has returned, he cannot overthrow me."  Zhuanzhu said, "King Liao can be killed!  His mother grows old and his son is weak.  His two younger brothers are out attacking Chu but Chu has removed their path at the rear.  The state of Wu has many external difficulties and internally lacks any strong-willed ministers.  There is nothing they can do to stop me."  Prince Guang beat his head on the ground and said, "My fate is in your hands."

 

On the 13th day (4th month), Prince Guang placed armoured troops in ambush in an underground cellar.  He held a banquet in honour of King Liao, who in turn sent troops to take up position from his palace to the home of Prince Guang.  All of the doorways and all of the stairways, to both the left and right were occupied by King Liao's relatives, flanked on either side by servants carrying long swords.

 

Once the banquet was underway, Prince Guang feigned a foot injury and went to the underground cellar.  There he ordered Zhuanzhu to place his dagger in the stomach of the roast fish and send it up.  When it had arrived in front of the king, Zhuanzhu tore open its belly and stabbed the king with the knife concealed within.  The king died instantly and those surrounding him proceeded to kill Zhuanzhu.  The king's men were thrown into confusion and Prince Guang ordered his men to come out from their position and attack the king's troops, killing every last one.  Zhuanzhu then proceeded to appoint himself as king, taking the name Helu.  He then appointed Zhuanzhu's son as a minister of state.

 

 

I really enjoyed translating this one and was getting pretty excited towards the end with the concealed troops and the knife hidden in the fish.  I was also quite surprised when I found out Zhuanzhu essentially sacrificed himself.

 

A few points:

  • Firstly, I did some heavy consulting of Chinese wikipedia and the articles on Zhuanzhu, Prince Guang and King Liao.  These helped a lot in clearing up some uncertainties and with providing more background to the stories.
  • "公子光頓首曰" You'll see that I translated this as "Prince Guang beat his head on the ground and said..." I am certain this translation is wrong but I'm not sure what it should be.
  • "光之身,子之身也。"  I took some liberty with translating this line as "My body is your body" didn't really seem to fit.
  • "王僚使兵陳自宮至光之家,門戶階陛左右,皆王僚之親戚也。夾立侍,皆持長鈹"  This was the only part that I really had a lot of trouble with.  Does King Liao send troops from his palace to take up position at Prince Guang's house. Or does he send troops to take up position from the palace all the way to Prince Guang's house?  You can see how I've translated the second half, the main thing is that I'm not really sure where all these people with the long swords are.

If you get the chance, check out the wikipedia page for Zhuanzhu.  I looked over it quickly and it seemed to have some interesting facts in it (providing I understood correctly), including that upon hearing King Liao liked a particular type of fish, he went out of his way to learn how to cook it, presumably with an eye on hiding a knife in its belly at some point in the future.

 

So, there are three posts in quick succession which should keep interested parties occupied for a while.  I'll move on to chapter 14 as soon as I get the chance.

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stapler

Really starting to enjoy reading these classical stories now. Like Game of Thrones ^_^ (also sorry for the font changes. Can't see how to change them in this text box)

 

So rather than write my own translation I'll just talk about the places I came up with something different to somethingfunny, lines that caused me trouble, or lines that I thought were interesting.

 

The first is the line 吳王僚欲楚喪. It took me a moment to notice that 因 has the second meaning of 趁 in classical Chinese.

 

此時不可失,不求, 何獲!- here my thinking was "Don't ask/this is not a request, how do I achieve this?" But I think there was some Mandarin bias causing me to overlook that here the 求 just means "seek". However even here the meaning is not clear. It still sounds like hes just saying "Don't go and get it". I feel like it should be "I must go and get it". It's almost like this a rhetorical statement, but nothing (besides context maybe?) indicates that it actually is? Maybe context is enough...

 

季子雖來,不吾廢也   - Here again I paused for a bit. I think because I haven't looked at classical for a while my mind took a moment to readjust to the more flexible word order. At first I felt like the word order here is different because of the 也. But this isn't how the nominalising function of 也 works. So at this point I realised it's probably just being used as an emphasis. I think what's omitted here is a kind of 把 (to use Mandarin) and the subject. So the meaning could be written as 他不把吾廢.

 

是無如我何  - This was tricky. But it also happens in Mandarin. Eg 無慮不顧 where the original 顧慮 is taken, split up, and reorganised (the original meaning "misgivings" is a compound word, but here it is change to "no worries, don't care" aka nothing to worry about). Here this line a bit more difficult because of the more abstract nature of the characters. I guess this a "poetic" function.

 

I wasn't able to work out the meaning of banging your head on the ground. I just assumed it's an old saying that expresses Guang's feelings at the time. Perhaps as we might say "banging your head against a wall". Doesn't imply we are doing that. Just expresses our mood/situation.

 

光之身,子之身也 - So here is the nominalising function of 也. I think I understand this fairly intuitively now. This line makes more sense in the translation below because it's related to Guang basically saying he will take care of Zhuan Zhu's mum/treat her as his own mum if he helps him take the throne.

 

王僚使兵陳自宮至光之家  - When I read this I just assumed it was all the guards moving from the palace to Guang's house (because he kills them all in the end, they should all be in one place in the coup de grace etc.) But the translation below seems to agree with you somethingfunny that it means they formed up in a line from the palace to the house. Either way I don't think this is too important. To me this is kind of "go with whatever you imagine" because it's unimportant to the story itself.

 

公子光詳為足疾 - Here I got really muddled up. At first I think I read this as "足爲" (sufficient to) and started thinking something really strange like "Guang's act was sufficient to make people think he was sick". This still makes sense in context. But I see now this was just a careless mistake. The 爲 is just a 做-like verb and 足 is just a foot!

 

以匕首刺王僚 - Again I was caught out on first glance because I am so use to reading 因 as "because" rather than "make use of/take advantage of".

 

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I found the modern Chinese version in the last thread helpful so I sought it out for this text too. There's actually a paragraph Rouzer omits that helps explain a bit about why Zhuan Zhu is willing to die for prince Guang. Also the knife used to kill the king is no ordinary knife. I highlighted the "extra" information.

 

Spoiler

 

吴王僚九年,楚平王死了。这年春天,吴王僚想趁着楚国办丧事的时候,派他的两个弟弟公子盖余、属庸率领军队包围楚国的谮城,派延陵季子到晋国,用以观察 “各诸侯国的动静。楚国出动军队,断绝了吴将盖余、属庸的后路,吴国军队不能归还。  

    这时公子光对专诸说:这个机会不能失掉,不去争取,哪会获得!况且我是真正的继承人,应当立为国君,季札子即使回来,也不会废掉我呀。专诸说:僚是可以杀掉的。母老子弱,两个弟弟带着军队攻打楚国,楚国军队断绝了他们的后路。当前吴军在外被楚国围困,而国内没有正直敢言的忠臣。这样王僚还能把我们怎么样呢。公子光以头叩地说:我公子光的身体,也就是您的身体,您身后的事都由我负责了。” 

   专诸向公子光提出自己最后的顾忌:身体受之于母,母在不能远行,更不敢以死相托。公子光很义气:你的母亲就是我的母亲。你不在,我代孝。专诸无话可说、无虑可顾了。
   专诸回家一见老母,泣不成声。有其子当然有其母,母亲心神领会,谎称想喝泉水。待专诸取水返回,母亲已自缢与床。


   公子光在地下室埋伏下身穿铠甲的武士,备办酒席宴请吴王僚。王僚派出卫队,从王宫一直排列到公子光的家里,门户、台阶两旁,都是王僚的亲信。夹道站立的侍卫,都举着长矛。 
   喝酒喝到畅快的时候,公子光假装脚有毛病,进入地下室,让专诸把匕首(鱼肠剑,是铸剑大师欧冶子亲手所铸五大名剑中的三把小型宝剑之一。)放到烤鱼的肚子里,然后把鱼进献上去。 


   到僚跟前,专诸掰开鱼,趁势用鱼肠剑,刺杀吴王僚!吴王僚当场毕命。他的侍卫人员也杀死了专诸,吴王僚手下的众人此时混乱不堪。公子光趁机放出埋伏的武士,诛杀吴王僚的部下,将其全部消灭。 


    剪除了吴王僚,公子光于是自立为国君,这就是历史上赫赫有名的吴王阖闾。阖闾于是封专诸的儿子为上卿。将鱼肠剑函封,永不再用。 

 

 

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Publius
6 hours ago, stapler said:

Really starting to enjoy reading these classical stories now. Like Game of Thrones ^_^

Yeah lots of cloak and dagger :D

And the dagger used in this case is extremely famous, lots of references in Wuxia literature.

 

季子雖來,不吾廢也

This kind of inversion is quite common in Classical Chinese. I think it's caused by negation. Similar examples: 時不我予/時不我待, 未之信, 莫之辯, etc.

 

王僚使兵陳自宮至光之家

I think the verb 陳 makes it pretty clear it's all the way along the road.

 

是無如我何

Compare: 其能耐我何

Edited by Publius
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Daniel Tsui44
On 2015/9/20 at 4:59 PM, somethingfunny said:

"公子光頓首曰"

顿首 means kowtow. Prince Guang kowtow and said

On 2015/9/20 at 4:59 PM, somethingfunny said:

"光之身,子之身也。"  I took some liberty with translating this line as "My body is your body" didn't really seem to fit.

literally, it's right. It means that Guang will take Zhuanzhu's place to do what Zhuanzhou's want to do but can‘t’ after his death.

On 2015/9/20 at 4:59 PM, somethingfunny said:

"王僚使兵陳自宮至光之家,門戶階陛左右,皆王僚之親戚也。夾立侍,皆持長鈹"

King Liao have solder line up from palace to Guang's home, people stand aside the door and steps are all King Liao's relative. Bodyguard all hold long sword.

6 hours ago, stapler said:

此時不可失,不求, 何獲

This is the right time that you don't want to lose, If you don't seek, how can you get.

6 hours ago, stapler said:

是無如我何

是如我无何 he can do nothing to me.

6 hours ago, stapler said:

季子雖來,不吾廢也

不废吾也

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stapler

Thanks Publius. I forgot all about that.

 

I went back and found the relevant section in first part of the book for others who may want to review:

 

Inversions with negatives and pronoun objects. This one is a bit more confusing. If a sentence has a negative adverb (such as 不)and a direct object replaced by a pronoun (usually之, but 我 and 子 and any other pronoun works as well), then the pronoun is moved to a place between the negative and the verb. In other words, 孔子不求之 ("Confucius is not looking for him") becomes 孔子不之求. In the lesson text,we have 縱君有賜,不我驕也: "Even if the ruler has a gift and does not treat me arrogantly"

 

 

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somethingfunny

There is a 'remove format' button on the text window toolbar stapler.  It's a capital T with a little x in the bottom right corner.  I find it very helpful for making fonts all match up, especially when pasting in Chinese.

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rylixe

Here is mine. Thanks again for creating this great resource and for the interesting discussion!

 

Nine years later, King Ping of Chu died. In spring, the Wu King Liao wished to take advantage of the time of mourning and sent his two younger brothers, Prince Gaiyu and Prince Shuyong to lead troops to surround Qian in Chu. He also sent Jizi of Yanling to Jin, in order to keep watch on the other feudal lords. But Chu sent forth troops and cut off the route of the Wu generals Gaiyu and Shuyong such that the Wu troops were unable to return.

 

Then Prince Guang said to Zhu Zhuan: We cannot miss this opportunity. If we do not seek, how can we obtain? Moreover, I, Guang, am the true inheritor of the throne and should become king. Even if Jizi comes, he will not overthrow me [because as we learned in the prior chapter, Jizi does not desire the throne]. Zhuan Zhu said: King Liao can be killed! His mother is old, and his sons are weak. His two brothers led troops to attack Chu, but Chu has cut off their way home.  Now Wu is externally in dire straits because of Chu, while internally it is without steadfast ministers. There is nothing they can do to stop us. Then Prince Guang bowed his head to the ground, saying: My body is your body! [Our fates are bound together!]

 

In the fourth month, on the thirteenth day of the 60-day cycle, Guang laid his knights in ambush in the cellar, while preparing a feast to which he invited King Liao. King Liao deployed his troops from the palace around Guang’s home. The gates and the stairs were totally surrounded by King Liao’s men. Flanking him were servants carrying long swords.

 

After the party was under way, Prince Guang pretended that his foot was in pain, and went into the cellar. He had Zhuan Zhu place a digger in the belly of the roast fish and bring the dish out. Having brought it in front of the king, Zhuan Zhu pried open the fish, and then stabbed the King with the dagger. King Liao immediately died. His retainers also killed Zhuan Zhu, but they had been thrown into confusion. Prince Guang had his troops who were lying in ambush come out and attack the King’s followers and completely destroyed them.

 

Thereafter, he established himself as king, with the name He Lv. He Lv then appointed Zhuan Zhu’s son as an important minister of the state.

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realmayo

I liked this text! (I almost want to say I liked this episode - like Game of Thrones, as stapler says).

 

I had not remembered 因 has a meaning of "take advantage of" and it was only when reading this thread that I realised there are two such instances of it in the text: in my mind I was thinking the meaning was "because of this/thanks to this" which is not far off "take advantage" really. At least, this certainly applies to the first 因: 因楚喪. As for the second 因, which is 因以匕首刺王僚, I guess that translating 因 as "then" would be a better match for the original Chinese?

 

The one thing that I didn't understand was Jizi and how he's 'arrived' (來) even though he's supposed to be in 晉.

季子雖來,不吾廢也

But as rylixe's translation makes clear: what I thought was "Although Jizi has come, ..." is in fact of course "Even if Jizi comes,..."

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somethingfunny
5 hours ago, realmayo said:

I liked this text! (I almost want to say I liked this episode - like Game of Thrones, as stapler says).

 

On balance, this was my favourite chapter in the whole book.  Although there is some great stuff later on (particularly Mencius!)

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