| 2019-06-13 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

This character refers to a beast or an animal. It often has a negative connotation when used to describe a person.


Kùn shòu yóu dòu

Kun refers to being trapped or cornered. Shou refers to beast. You means “still or yet” and dou means “fighting” or “struggling.” This proverb literally means that a cornered beast will still fight.

This proverb is derived from the Zuo Zhuan, or the Commentary of Zuo, an ancient Chinese narrative history that is traditionally regarded as a commentary on the ancient Chinese chronicle Spring and Autumn Annals.

During the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BCE), the state of Jin rushed to rescue the state of Zheng from an attack by the state of Chu. However, when the Jin army arrived, the Zheng had been forced to surrender to the Chu. The Jin army was divided on what to do next. The general named Xun Linfu wanted to pull back, but the deputy general didn’t agree with him. Finally Jin was defeated by Chu.

Duke Jing of Jin was furious at the loss and ordered the arrest of the head of his army. Xun Linfu stepped out and said that he should be responsible for the loss since he was the general. When Duke Jing of Jin decided to punish Xun, one of his officials named Shi Zhenzi came to dissuade him. Shi Zhenzi said, “Thirty years ago, Jin defeated the state of Chu at the Battle of Chengpu. The whole state of Jin cheered the victory except your father, Duke Wen of Jin. Duke Wen was unhappy because the general and prime minister of Chu, whose name was Zi Yu, was still alive. Duke Wen said that a cornered beast would still struggle and fight, especially Zi Yu, who would definitely take revenge on the Jin. Duke Wen had been worried about Zi Yu’s revenge until he heard that the ruler of Chu had executed Zi Yu. If the Battle of Chengpu was the first failure of Chu, killing the talented general Zi Yu was its second failure. This situation may be similar, if you execute your general Xun Linfu . . . ”

Duke Jing eventually understood that killing Xun Linfu was a favor for Chu. So he declared that Xun Linfu should be pardoned.

edited by REN GUANHONG