Ji Kang, one of the “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove” in the Wei and Jin Dynasties, was personable and talented, and many people admired him at that time.
Ji Kang wrote many poems and papers in his life. In his poems, he repeatedly mentioned the danger of the environment. His articles had clear viewpoints and strong debating power, full of Revelations to the society at that time and criticism to the scholars of etiquette and law.
Because of this, Liu Xie, a literary theorist in the Southern Liang Dynasty, describes that Ji Kang is a heroic character, so his articles are noble in spirit and sharp in style.
gu zhu yi zhi（to put all one’s stakes on the last cast of dice）
During the reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Northern Song Dynasty, there was a wise and able prime minister named Kou Zhun. Once, the northern Liao suddenly invaded the Song Dynasty. Kou Zhun suggested, “Your Majesty, the enemy forces are so strong that the only way to boost your morale is to come in person!” Zhenzong thought it made sense, so he took his advice. As expected, the Song soldiers defeated the Liao soldiers, and Zhen Zong placed more trust and trust in Kou Zhun.
Wang Yinruo, a treacherous official, was very jealous of Kou Zhun. He sought every opportunity to slander Kou Zhun. Once, Wang Yinruo gambled with Emperor Zhenzong, deliberately losing several times in a row, and then wagered all his money. Emperor Zhenzong was very surprised and asked him why this was so, so he said to Emperor Zhenzong, “Your Majesty was fighting the Liao army, didn’t you gamble all your money? Kou Zhun risked your life by insisting that you go to war. If we had lost militarily, wouldn’t your life have been in danger?”
Upon hearing this, Emperor Zhenzong became enraged and immediately demoted Kou Zhun.
During the Spring and Autumn Period, the two states of Jin and Chu fought a war because of the State of Zheng. The Chu army fought bravely and nearly surrendered the state of Zheng.
The Jin general, Xian Lin Fu, ignored his command and attacked the state of Chu on his own. Wu Can, the official of the state of Chu, told King Zhuang of Chu, “The Jin army will be far ahead of the others. The army will be disunited, and we can launch a campaign to destroy Jin.”
As a result, the state of Chu defeated the state of Jin.
During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, there was a mayor of Luoyang named Yuan Zhi. He was talented in writing and efficient in his work, so Yuan Zhi had great authority before Emperor Xiaowen.
One day, Yuan Zhi went out by carriage, he met the official LiBiao on the road. Libiao position higher than yuan Zhi, according to etiquette Yuan Zhi should give way to LiBiao, but Yuan Zhi dont agree to give way to LiBiao, two people dont give way to each other, they had to come together to see Xiaowen emperor. Li Biao said: “I am a senior official of the state, how can the mayor of Luoyang argue with me?” Yuan Zhi said, “All those who live in Luoyang are listed on my household register. Do I have any reason to avoid them?”
Emperor Xiaowen looked at them and said, “Luoyang is our capital. It is time to go our separate ways. From now on, you will go your separate ways.” From then on Yuan Zhi and LiBiao folding ruler measure road, each occupies half.
King Mu of Zhou often went to various places to inspect the conditions of the people. Once, he met a skilled craftsman named Yan Shi.
King Mu of Zhou saw Yan Shi and asked him, “I heard that you are a great craftsman. What do you think of your ability?” Instead of answering King Mu’s question directly, Yan Shi invited him to show him his latest creation, a strange doll, saying, “This is the puppet I made that looks like a real person. Now let him sing and dance for the king.”
The Marionette sang a beautiful little tune, and when he had finished, he bent down to thank him. Then, with the music played by the musicians, the marionette gently twisted his waist and jumped up the ever-changing dance steps, as if a fairy descended to the earth.
King Mu of Zhou did not believe that this “man” who could sing and dance was really a lifeless puppet, so he would retreat and take a look inside. The Yan Shi took apart the puppet and showed it to King Mu of Zhou. The original puppet is really made of wood, leather, rubber paint and other materials. Then the puppet teacher put it back together again, and it performed vividly again.
King Mu of Zhou could not help but exclaim: “This is really incredible!”
da yi mie qin（to punish one’s own relations in the cause of justice）
During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), there was many dukedoms under the king of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. These dukedoms often fought one another to expand their territories. And within a dukedom, the struggle for power frequently occurred. A typical case was the murder of the Duke of Wei by his younger brother Zhou Xu.
Zhou Xu committed the crime with the help of an important official called Shi Hou. Eventually, Zhou Xu became duke himself. Then he launched wars against other dukedoms and the people suffered. There were complaints and resentments all around.
When he learned about this, Zhou Xu was worried. He talked with Shi Hou about how to stabilize the situation and win back people’s confidence. Shi Hou said:”That’s easy. I’ll ask my father to speak for us. He is highly esteemed by all the officials and the people. I’m sure he’ll help us out.”
Shi Hou’s father, Shi Que, had been a high-ranking official serving under the former duke. He resigned when Zhu Xu seized power. He hated Zhou Xu for his murder of the former duke. He also hated his own son, Shi Hou, for his part in the murder.
Now, Shi Hou came and asked him for help. the father said, “A duke’ ascendance to power should be granted by the king. If the king approved it, all the problems will be solved.”
“But how can we bet the king’s approval?” Shi Hou asked his father. The old man said, “The Duke of Chen is trusted by the king and his dukedom has good relationship with ours. If you and Zhou Xu go to the Duke of Chen and ask him for help, I’m sure he is willing to say a good word for you before the king.”
Shi Hou passed his father’s word to Zhu Xu and they went to the Dukedom of Chen. But before they arrived, the old man sent an express letter in secret to the Duke of Chen asking him to kill the two murderers.
As soon as Zhou Xu and Shi Hou arrived in the Dukedom of Chen, they were arrested. Some officials from Wei made a special trip to Chen to kill the two men. They put Zhou Xu to death but hesitated to kill Shi Hou because of his father. When the old man learnt about this, he said firmly :’My son has also committed the murder of the duke. What’s the good to have him in the world!” he sent his own man to Chen and beheaded Shi Hou. Later historians commented: “To safeguard the interest of the country, Shi Que did not bend the law for the benefit of his relative. It’s really a case of cutting off consanguinity for the sake of righteousness!” Hence comes the idiom “Uphold justice at the cost of one’s blood relation”.
ming bu xu chuan（deserve the reputation one enjoys）
During the reign of Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty, there was a swordsman named Guo Jie. He is a small man, but he loves chivalry. When he was young, he did some bad things, but later he realized that it was wrong, so he changed his behavior, and people gradually changed their opinion of him.
Guo Jie’s local reputation is growing, and some of the richest people have frequent contact with him. Guo Jie had a nephew who forced himself to drink alcohol with others. The man killed him in a rage and fled. Later, the murderer came back to tell the truth to Guo Jie. Guo Jie thought that his nephew was at fault, not only did not add the crime to him, but also let him go. Guo Jie is so fair that people respect him all the more.
Soon after, the government ordered the arrest of Guo Jie in connection with a murder case. But many people defended him, and the official reported back to Emperor Wudi that Guo Jie was innocent. Minister Gong Sunhong said: “Guo Jie may not have killed people, but as an ordinary person, he became famous, because some small contradictions caused others to kill, this crime is more serious than his own murder.”
Emperor Wudi took his advice and Guo Jie’s whole family was killed.
bu qu bu nao（the candle moth flies into the fire — to bring destruction on oneself）
Wang Shang was a minister of the Western Han Dynasty and served as the prime minister of Emperor Cheng of Han. He is honest and upright. However, Emperor Cheng’s uncle Wang Feng often used the emperor’s name to make money for himself. Wang Shang criticized Wang Feng’s practice, and Wang Feng became dissatisfied with him.
Once, the capital was suddenly rumored to have a flood. The whole city was in chaos. When the news reached the palace, Emperor Cheng summoned senior officials to confer. Wang Feng panicked and thought that the emperor should get on the ship as soon as possible. Other officials and people rushed to hide on the wall. All the ministers agreed with Wang Feng. Only Wang Shang firmly opposed it. He thought that it must be a rumor, and that the order to mount the wall at this critical moment would further disturb the people. Emperor Cheng of Han adopted Wang Shang’s advice. After a few days, the city also gradually calm down, the results of the investigation confirmed that. Emperor Cheng of Han considered Wang Shang honest and stable and often praised his opinions. However, Wang Feng regretted his wrong words and became more resentful towards Wang Shang.
When one of Wang Feng’s relatives failed to perform his managerial duties, Wang Shang arranged for him to be scrutinized. Wang Feng asked Wang Shang for mercy, but Wang Shang insisted on his principles. Wang Feng is more resentful of Wang Shang, he made one thousand ways to search for his shortcomings, and then sent someone framed. Emperor Cheng of Han did not believe him, so he issued an edict to prevent excessive investigation. But Wang Feng stubbornly insisted, Emperor Cheng had no choice but to dismiss Wang Shang as Prime minister. Three days later, Wang Shang vomited blood and died.
Ban Gu commented in the Book of Han that Wang Shang suffered many disasters and was deposed because of his honesty and unyielding spirit.
[fēi é pū huǒ]，屈：屈服；挠：弯曲，不屈不挠比喻在压力和困难面前不屈服，表现十分顽强。
fei e pu huo（the candle moth flies into the fire — to bring destruction on oneself）
During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Dao Gai, a diligent man in the Liang Dynasty, became an official.
Dao Gai had a grandson named Jin, who was very clever since he was a child. Dao Gai liked him very much and would accompany him to read and write poems whenever he had time. Dao Jin’s achievements in poetry and literature surpassed Dao Gai’s when he was an adult, and he was greatly appreciated by Emperor Wu of Liang.
Once, Emperor Wu of Liang joked with Dao Gai, “I can write articles with ink stone and brush brush with ease. It was like a moth to a flame, completely forgetting that it might be destroyed. You are an old man, and your grandson writes so well. Why not let your grandson write instead of you?”
Dao Jin was soon appointed as an official by Emperor Wu of Liang.
During the Eastern Han Dynasty, after Wang Mang usurped the Han Dynasty and established a new dynasty, a man named Cen Peng served as a county magistrate in his hometown. Later, Liu Xiu raised troops hoping to rebuild the Han Dynasty, so Cen Peng led his troops to join him and was appointed as a general. He made a lot of contributions and won Liu Xiu’s trust and appreciation.
After Cen Peng followed Liu Xiu to conquer Tianshui, he besieged the rebel general Kui Xiao in Xicheng. At this time, Liu Xiu had to return to the capital Luoyang because of other important matters.
Before leaving, Liu Xiu left a letter telling Cen Peng: “After capturing Xicheng, you can directly attack Gongsun Shu in Xishu.”
The letter also said: “People’s hearts are always suffering from insatiability! After conquering Longxi, I look forward to marching into Western Shu!”
Later, Liu Xiuzhen eliminated Kui Xiao from Julong and Gongsun Shu from Shu, and restored the Han Dynasty regime.
The idiom “Delong Wangshu” evolved from here, and it is used to describe insatiable greed and unsatisfied.