Chinese Idiom Stories
蘇秦是戰國時期的人。開始蘇秦來到秦國, 向秦王推行自己的政治主張, 但是秦王對此沒有興趣, 最後旅費用完了，衣服也破了，蘇秦只得回到洛陽家中。見蘇秦這樣狼狽，父母懶得同他講話，妻子只顧織布，也不看他一眼，他要求嫂子給他弄點吃的，嫂子不但不給，還數落了他一頓。蘇秦很難過，於是立志苦讀，研究兵法。有時看書看瞌睡了，他就用錐子猛刺大腿，讓自己繼續讀下去。
First Arrogant, Then Respectful
During the Warring States Period, there lived a politician named Su CHin who tried to get a job as a governement official, but to no avail. His parents, his sister-in-law, and his wife were all ashamed of him, but it was his sister-in-law who treated him worst. She would ofter mock him, saying that he would never amount to anything.
Su CHin felt very hurt, but he did not lose hope. He studied hard every day, and finally discouvered what he called the "zong-heng" principle.
Su Chin traveled to many kingdoms explaining his ideas, and at first he was rejected everywhere he went. But his suggestion that the kingdoms of Yan, Chao, Ch'i Ch'u, Wei and Han all unite to fight against Ch'in was heartily accepted in both Yan and Chao. What's more, the leaders of these two kingdoms asked him to go persuade the other four leaders to go along with the plan. Later, these six kingdoms were united, and Su Chin became their very well-known and highly respected prime minister. One time, he was passing through his home town, and his parents and sister-in-law all came out to welcome him. Su Chin laughed and sad to his sister-in-law, "You were always so arrogant; why is it that you've suddenly become huble?" His sister-in-law felt very ashamed.
Today, this idiom can be used to describe anyone wo acts haughtily towards another person, but then becomes respectful upon learning that that person is of high status.