Chinese Idiom Stories

To Attempt To Go South by Driving the Chariot North


During the Warring States Period, the king of Wei was planning to attack the kingdom of Chao. A man named Ji Liang heard of this plan, and immediately went to call on the king, to urge him not to attack. He said, "I just met a man who said that he was going to Ch'u, in the south, but he was heading north. When I asked him why, he said that he had a strong horse, a lot of money to spend on the trip, and a skilled driver. Your Majesty, do you not think that by going this way, this man was heading away from, instead of towards, the kingdom of Ch'u? I also once heard His majesty say that he hoped to become a great ruler, whom everyone would obey. And yet now, you plan to invade the kingdom of Chao in order to expand your territory and glorify your own name. Do you not feel that by acting in this way, you are moving farther and farther from your goal?" The king agreed with what Ji Liang had said, and agreed not to attack Chao.

Today, we can say that a person whose actions hinder, rather than help, the complation of his goal is "attempting to go south by driving the chariot north."


魏王想攻打趙國,季梁勸他說:「我在太行山下遇到一個向北走卻要去楚國的人,我告訴他說:『你的方向錯了!』他卻回答我說:『沒關係,我的馬跑得很快!』 這位馬車伕駕車技術非常高明,但是他這樣走下去,只會離楚國越來越遠而已。現在,大王仗著強勢想稱霸,你越是這樣做,離稱霸的目的就越遠,和那個想到楚國去,反而往北走的人一樣。」魏王聽了之後覺得很有道理,最後終於放棄攻打趙國的計劃。

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