九龍華仁書院安省舊生會

Wah Yan College Kowloon Alumni Association of Ontario

Welcome to WYKAAO

Contact Us

《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related__3-螳臂擋車 ;4-漁人得利》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)

Proverb Related Tales

(3) The Mantis Stopping a Wagon

During the time of the Warring States of Spring and Autumn, the Duke of Qi went outing one day with his ministers and guards. He was riding on a wagon.

Soon, they saw a mantis standing in the middle of the road, flexing its big arm. It was attempting to block the advance of the procession.

A guard went forward to get rid of it. The Duke shouted to stop him.

“Surely,” he said, “the mantis should know its limited power against the wagon wheel, but its courage to stop us should have our respect. Let’s turn away and take another road.”

Hearing that, the ministers and guards learned a great lesson. They should be courageous to fight following their leader, regardless of the power they had against any enemy.

Since then, however, the phrase (螳臂擋車) has become a proverb for a different meaning. That one should know and accept one’s limited ability against a challenging job.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: This is a narration of a passage in the book莊子》(Zhuangzi). It taught us the possible meanings of the same saying of common usage.

The original passage: 汝不知夫螳螂乎? 怒其臂以擋車轍, 不知其不勝任也.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Proverb Related Tales

(4) A Deadlock Duel Benefits a Third Party

A large clam opened its shell to enjoy the morning sun at the river bank. A snipe walked by and tried to peck at the clam’s meat.

The clam shut its shell tight in a flash to clamp in the snipe’s beak. The latter tugged with all its might but could not pull free its beak.

On the other hand the clam had to keep its shell tightly shut. It could not move to return to the river.

The two dueling parties began to argue.

“If it doesn’t rain soon, you will die from dryness, and never be able to return to the river.” The snipe said in a low muffed voice.

The clam retorted, its voice quivering: “I will not let go your beak. You will die too, from exhaustion and starvation.”

Thus the duel parties kept the deadly struggle, neither one intended to give in.

A passing fisherman saw the situation. He picked up both easily. He was so happy that he whistled as he carried the bountiful food home.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: This is a rewrite from an allegory in the book《 戰國策 (Strategy of the Warring State). The original title 鷸蚌相爭, 漁人得利 depicts the philosophy that a duel between two rival parties only benefits a third interested party.

You are here: Home Features 《Chinese Tales for Everyone: Proverb Related__3-螳臂擋車 ;4-漁人得利》__ Kong Shiu Loon (53)