teacherfang 2012-08-23 14:23:05
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优孟衣冠 [yōu mèng yì guān]
You Meng in disguise — To carry out designs under a false cloak; to act a par
About 2,600 years ago, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Zhuang of the State of Chu was mad about horses. He dressed his favorite horse in embroidered clothes, let it live in a beautiful house and sleep in a bed at night, and fed it with preserved jujube fruit. Moreover, after the horse died, he required officials to hold a funeral for it, the same as the funeral of a high official. The court officials all thought this was wrong, so they objected. However, King Zhuang said: “Whoever dares to oppose my decision will be put to death. ” So nobody dared to persuade him to abandon his plan.
You Meng, a famous actor, was a very clever chap. Hearing about this, he went to meet King Zhuang. As soon as he entered the palace, he wept. King Zhuang was very surprised. He asked You Meng: “Why are you so sad? ”
You Meng sobbed: “The thing you cherished most in your life is your horse. Now it is dead. Since Chu is a very big, rich state, we don’t lack anything. I heard that you wanted to bury your horse as an official. I don’t think this is good enough. Please give it a king’s burial. ”
King Zhuang asked him: “How shall I hold its funeral then? ”
You Meng answered: “Give it a carved jade coffin, choose the best timber to cover the coffin, and tell soldiers and the common people to build the tomb. On the day of the funeral procession, ask the visitors from Qi and Zhao to walk at the front, and those from Han and Wei to follow at the back. In addition, build a temple for your horse and grant it ten thousand-hu of land. Only by doing so will dukes in other states know you care for horses, but not people. ”
King Zhuang understood what You Meng meant. He sighed: “I didn’t realize that my mistake is so serious.” So he changed his mind, and didn’t hold a funeral for his horse.
Sun Shu’ao, the Prime Minister of Chu, knew that You Meng was a wise and able man. So he treated You Meng well. When he was dying, he told his son: “After I die, you must be poor. You can go to ask You Meng for help. ”
Several years later, Sun’s son became so poor that he had to make his living by cutting firewood. One day, he ran into You Meng and said to him: “I’m Sun Shu’ao’s son. Before my father died, he told me that if I became poor, I could come to ask you for help.” You Meng said: “OK, let me try. Please don’t go far away, or I won’t be able to find you.”
You Meng went back home and picked out some of the clothes Sun had left him. He wore them and began to imitate Sun’s manner. After one year, he looked and acted very much like Sun Shu’ao. On King Zhuang’s birthday, he went to congratulate him. Seeing You Meng, the king was so surprised. He thought Sun Shu’ao had come back from the dead. He was delighted and wanted to make You Meng the new prime minister. You Meng said: “I need to discuss this with my wife. Please give me three days.”
Three days later, You Meng came to King Zhuang. The king asked him: “What does your wife say?”
You Meng replied: “She says being the prime minister of Chu isn’t worth it. Take Sun Shu’ao for example. He was loyal and devoted to helping you administer the state all his life, so that Chu become a strong state. However, after he died, his son became so poor that he has to make his living by cutting and selling firewood. So I would rather commit suicide than be a prime minister like Sun Shu’ao.”
Hearing this, King Zhuang found Sun Shu’ao’s son and gave him four hundred-hu of land, so that he could live a comfortable life.
From that story, people get the idiom You Meng Yi Guan to describe those who disguise themselves as others or act on the stage. It is sometimes used to mock those who lack creativity and imitate other people’s writing styles.