Tuesday, July 1, 2014

5 Fables from Ancient China

Selected and organized by Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid 738 DZRB AM with Ms Melly C Tenorio 8 to 9 evening class, Mon to Fri

Lesson: Oriental Fables. What similarities and differences do they have with Aesop' fables? (See Aesop Fables in this Blog.) Draw the lesson from each fable. Try recalling an anecdote that has qualities of a fable, and write it down for school or simply for adding spice to a talk or conversation. 
1. The Fox Who Profited by the Tiger's Might *

While hunting for prey, the tiger caught a fox.

"You can't eat me," said the fox. "The Emperor of Heaven has appointed me king of the beasts. If you eat me, you'll be disobeying his orders. If you don't believe me, follow me. You'll soon see whether the other animals run away at the sight of me or not."

Agreeing to this, the tiger accompanied the fox; and when all the beasts saw them coming they dashed away. Not realizing that they were afraid of him, the tiger thought they were afraid of the fox. (Warring States Anecdote)
2. The Snipe and the Mussel *
A mussel was opening its shell to bask in the sun when a snipe pecked at it. The mussel clamped down on the bird's beak, and held it fast.

"If it doesn't rain today or tomorrow," said the snipe, "there will be a dead mussel lying here."

"If you can't pry loose today or tomorrow," retorted the mussel, "there will be a dead snipe here, too."

As neither of them would give way, a passing fisherman caught them both. (Warring States Anecdote)
3. The Dog Who Soured Wine **
There was a brewer in the state of Song whose wine was excellent. He gave fair measure
and concern to his customers, and has his sign up in a most conspicuous place. Yet he could not sell his wine, which was said to be sour. He asked an elder whom he knew well, what the reason for this was.

"Is your dog fierce?" asked the elderly man.

"As a matter of fact, it is," replied the brewer. "But what has that to do with my wine not selling?"

"People are afraid of your dog. When a boy is sent with money and a pot to buy your wine, the dog rushes out to bite him. That is why your wine turns sour and will not sell." (Han Fei Zi)
4. The Lamb in a Tiger's Skin ***
Once a lamb clad itself in a tiger skin.

As it was stalking along, it bleated joyously at the sight of the green grass, but when it saw a wolf in the distance it trembled all over.

The truth is that the lamb had forgotten that it had the tiger's skin on. (Fan Yan)
5. Presenting Doves
It was the custom in Handan to catch doves to present to the prince on New Year's Day, for this pleased him so much that he gave rich rewards. Someone asked the prince the reason for the custom.

"I free the doves at New Year to show my kindness," he said.

"Since your subjects know you want doves to set free, they all set about catching them," objected the other. "And the result is that many doves are killed. If you really want to save the doves, you had better forbid people to catch them. As things are, you catch them to free them, and your kindness cannot make up for the damage you do." (Lie Zi)

The prince agreed with him,


NOTE: The fables were gathered in Beijing and Shanghai on my visit in 1982. 
They were translated into English by Yang Xianyl and Gladys Yang et al., 
Foreign Languages Press (Beijing).

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