成語故事

One Hair From Nine Oxen

 九牛一毛

Li Ling was a great general during the time of emperor Han Wu-di. He was a very good fighter, and he won every battle. One time, however, Li Ling's troops were so hopelessly outnumbered by the Huns that although they fought bravely, the whole army was soon taken captive. Li Ling shamefully surrendered for the moment, planning to wait for an opportunity to strike back. But when news of the surrender reached the capital, the emperor's jealous ministers began to degrade Li Ling in front of the emperor. What he heard made the emperor so angry that he had Li Ling's wife and mother put to death.

Ze-ma Chian, who had always respected Li Ling, believed that he wouldn't surrender without a reason, and urged the emperor not to believe rumors. This time, the emperor grew angry at Sz-ma Chian, and locking him up, punished him severely. Sz-ma Chian then wrote a long letter to a friend, saying, "I am now in the middle of writing a history book. If I die, it will be as if one ox in a group on nine were to lose a single hair, or as if one ant were to die. I am willing to withstand punishment in order to complete this book." Sz-ma Chian finally did finish his book - the very famous Shr-Ji.

Thus, to say that something is like "one hair from nine oxen" is to say that it is very insignificant.

九牛一毛

西漢時代有個很有名的大將軍名叫李陵,他奉漢武帝的命令,率領軍隊去攻打匈奴。後來,因為兵力不足而戰敗投降。武帝聽到這件事以後非常生氣,他覺得李陵不但不能立下大功,反而輕易對敵人投降,其它的大臣們也紛紛指責李陵的不忠。只有太史令司馬遷為李陵打抱不平,他仗義直言說道:「李陵將軍孤軍奪戰,每一次出兵攻打敵方都有很好的成績。而這一次,他沒有得到李廣利(擔任正面主攻任務的將軍)的協助,五千人的步兵雖然被八萬匈奴兵團團圍住,但是仍然冒死對抗,而且連續打了十幾天的仗,還殺傷敵兵一萬多人,直到糧草都用盡了,才不得不假裝投降,這樣的戰績大概沒有幾個人能做得到,李陵實在是個了不起的將領啊!至少他的功勞能夠抵他的罪過吧!」

漢武帝聽到司馬遷不但為李陵辯解,而且還諷刺他的親戚李廣利,頓時火冒三丈,立即下令把司馬遷打入死牢,接著又判了司馬遷當時最殘酷、最恥辱的宮刑。司馬遷遭受到如此大的打擊,受到這種侮辱,好幾次都想自殺一死了之,可是他想到自已這種情形即使死了,在大家眼中也不過就像是「九牛之一毛」,不但得不到任何人的一絲同情,還會受到大家的嘲笑。於是,他下定決心、勇敢的活下去,最後終於完成《史記》這部名流千古的史學鉅著。


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