16 Lesson 15- 漢高祖

漢高祖 (《史記》)

Hàn Gāozǔ (shǐ jì)

高祖以亭長,為縣送徒酈山,徒多道亡,自度比至皆亡之。到豐西澤中,止飲。 夜乃解縱所送徒曰:“公等皆去,吾亦從此逝矣!”  徒中壯士願從者十餘人。高祖被酒,夜徑澤中,令一人行前。行前者還報曰:“前有大蛇當徑,願還。”  高祖醉曰:“壯士行,何畏!”  乃前,拔劍擊斬蛇,蛇遂分為兩,徑開。行數里,醉因臥。後人來至蛇所,有一老嫗夜哭。人問何哭,嫗曰:“人殺吾子,故哭之。” 人曰:“嫗子何為見殺?”  嫗曰:“吾子白帝子也,化為蛇,當道,今為赤帝子斬之,故 哭。”人乃以嫗為不誠,欲笞之。嫗因忽不見。後人至,高祖覺。後人告高祖,高祖乃心獨喜自負。諸從者日益畏之。


高祖以亭长,为县送徒郦山,徒多道亡,自度比至皆亡之。到丰西泽中,止饮。 夜乃解纵所送徒曰:“公等皆去,吾亦从此逝矣!”  徒中壮士愿从者十余人。高祖被酒,夜径泽中,令一人行前。行前者还报曰:“前有大蛇当径,愿还。”  高祖醉曰:“壮士行,何畏!”  乃前,拔剑击斩蛇,蛇遂分为两,径开。行数里,醉因卧。后人来至蛇所,有一老妪夜哭。人问何哭,妪曰:“人杀吾子,故哭之。” 人曰:“妪子何为见杀?”  妪曰:“吾子白帝子也,化为蛇,当道,今为赤帝子斩之,故 哭。”人乃以妪为不诚,欲笞之。妪因忽不见。后人至,高祖觉。后人告高祖,高祖乃心独喜自负。诸从者日益畏之。

Lesson 15  vocabulary

漢高祖 Hàn  Gāozǔ (Liu Bang, the first Han Emperor, r. BCE 206-195. Gaozu is his posthumous title)
as, in the capacity of
tíng (administrative unit of 10 square li, villages)
亭長 tíng zhǎng head of a ting
xiàn district
sòng to escort
prisoner, the convict(s)
酈山 lì shān Mt. Li
duō many
dào road
wáng to escape
duó to calculate [c.f. dù, to measure]
by the time that; compare
dào to arrive at
豐 (丰) Fēng (name of a place)
西 west
zhǐ to stop
night
解縱 jiě zòng to release
gōng you (polite)
děng [pronoun and noun suffix indicating plural]
從 (从) cóng from
從此 cóng cǐ from now on, at this point
shì to depart
壯 (壮) zhuàng strong
壯士 zhuàng shì able-bodied men
願 (愿) yuàn to be willing to
從 (从) cóng to follow
被酒 bèi jiǔ under the influence of drink
徑 (径) jìng to take a short cut; footpath
qián ahead; to go ahead
報 (报) bào to report
當 (当) dāng to occupy
yuàn I suggest
zuì drunk
to draw out
劍 (剑) jiàn sword
to strike
斬 (斩) zhǎn to behead
fēn to divide
wéi to become
開 (开) kāi open
(measure of distance)
臥 (卧) to lie down
嫗 (妪) old woman
見 (见) jiàn [verb prefix indicating passive]
huà to change, to transform
chì red
誠 (诚) chéng honest, sincere
to be about to
chī to flog
suddenly
覺 (觉) jué to wake up
獨 (独) alone
happy
負 (负) to rely on
自負 zì fù self-confident; self assured; self-possessed
從者 cóng zhě follower
daily, by the day
increasingly

《史記 》       shǐ jì

The 史記 Historical Records (aka Records of the Grand Historian) is the first comprehensive history of China, written during the second century BCE by Sima Qian 司馬遷.  This passage is taken from the biography of the first emperor of the Han Dynasty; at the time he was a lowly commoner serving in a series of minor posts.

Commentary on lesson 15:

1.1: 以 here means “acting as” and occurs often in giving a person’ s bureaucratic position. The 為 in this sentence is fourth tone, “for the sake of.”

1.2: 酈山 was a hill east of present-day Xian; it was the supposed site of the tomb of the first Qin emperor. Convicts and peasants were frequently conscripted to work on the building of the tomb long before the emperor died.

1.3:  等 is a noun suffix indicating plural; it also occasionally has the meaning of “etc.” (as in modern).

1.4:  This 為is redundant because of the 故 of the next phrase: “Now because the son of the red emperor has beheaded him, for that reason I cry.”

Grammar Note 14

More but not all about 所 suǒ.

In lesson 3  occurred a noun meaning “place”:

鬻金者之所 the gold-seller’s place
yù jīn zhě zhī suǒ

Also in lesson 15 we have   後人 來至蛇所 hòu rén lái zhì shé suǒ in this sense (cf. Mandarin usage in 廁所 cè suǒ, 研究所 yán jiū suǒ).

Quite different from this – and not identical to any Mandarin usage such as 所以 suǒ yǐ “therefore”  – is 所 suǒ in its more frequent and important function as relative pronoun object, basically meaning “that which, what, (she/he) whom”.

This 所 suǒ was implied (but not used overtly) in lesson 2:

而身為宋國 [所] 笑 and he himself was [what] the State of Song laughed at
ér shēn wéi Sòng guó suǒ xiào

In lesson 11 we had:

殆所謂之不祥也 …perhaps are what are called unlucky  and/or what are called unlucky are precisely things like these
dài suǒ wèi zhī bù xiáng yě

We can regard each instance of this construction as a transformation of an underlying sentence:

1.    宋 國 笑 之 the State of Song laughed at him
        Sòng guó xiào zhī
     (身為) 宋國 所 笑 (he was) what the State of Song laughed at
       shēn wéi Sòng guó suǒ xiào
2.    [子] 謂 之 不祥 (you) call them unlucky
       zǐ wèi zhī bù xiáng

From simple sentences we can easily fashion further examples of the same kind:

3.   梟 逢 鳩 owl meets dove
      xiāo féng jiū
      梟 所 逢 what the owl meets
      jiū suǒ féng
4. 宋人釋其耒 the man of Song abandoned his plow
    Sòng rén shì qí lěi
    宋人所 釋 what the man of Song abandoned
    Sòng rén suǒ shì
5.  虎求百獸 the tiger sought the hundred beasts
     hǔ qiú bǎi shòu
    虎所求 what the tiger sought
     hǔ suǒ qiú

If you have difficulty with 所 suǒ construction at first, that will be because所 suǒ DOES SEVERAL THINGS AT ONCE to the sentences in which it appears, and this (for a while) may be confusing:

  1. 所 suǒ being itself a pronoun, REPLACES the noun or pronoun object. As in other pronominalization, noun object, being replaced, lose their reference to a particular kind of thing: owl meets dove becomes what the owl meets.
  2. 所suǒ as object-substitute DISPLACES the object from its nominal position after the verb to an typical position before it.
  3. 所 suǒ NOM1NALIZES the sentence into which it has introduced, turning it from a sentence into a noun phrase. Owl meets dove is a sentence. What the owl meets is a noun phrase, requiring the addition of a subject or predicate to make it a sentence again.

For example, subjects or predicates can be added as follows:

  1. predicate added:
梟 所 逢   鳩 也 what the owl met was a dove
 xiāo suǒ féng jiū yě

2. subject added:

虎食其所求之百獸 the tiger ate the hundred beasts he sought
 hǔ shí qí suǒ qiú zhī bǎi shòu

 

 

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Introduction to Classical Chinese by Patrick Hanan; David Lattimore; Judith Zeitlin; Margaret Baptist Wan; Anthony George; Xiaofei Tian; Regina Llamas; Hu Hsiao-chen; Liu Lening; Paul Rouzer; Shang Wei; Andrew Schonebaum; and Kong Mei is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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