成語故事

To Knot Grass and Carry a Ring

During the Spring and Autumn Period, there lived in the kingdom of Chin a man named Wei Ke, whose father had a young and very beautiful concubine. After his father grew old and fell ill, he told Wei Ke that after his death, his son was to marry the concubine into a suitable family. Later, when his illness had grown worse and he was in a state of delirium, he said that he wanted the girl to commit suicide and he buried with him. Wei Ke felt that he should obey what his father had said when he was fully conscious, and so he married the girl into a nice family. Later, Wei Ke was in a battle which he was about to lose, when suddenly he saw an old man come tie a knot in the grass in front of his enemy, His enemy's horse tripped over the knot, and Wei Ke won the battle. That night, Wei Ke had a dream that the old man came to him and said, "I am the father of the concubine, come to repay you for not burying my daughter with your father."

During the Han dynasty, there lived a man named Yand Bau, who was very king and sympathetic. When he was a boy, Yang Bau once came across an injured sparrow. He saved the little bird, and treated its wounds. Many years later, this little sparrow brought Yang Bau a ring of jade.

Therefore, "to knot the grass and carry a ring" means to repay someone for a kindness.

結草銜環

知恩圖報、滴水之恩當湧泉相報、感恩報德,至死不忘,一直被認為是中華民族引以為傲的傳統美德。成語「結草銜環」的典故不僅向我們講述了成就這美德的兩個感人至深的故事,還告訴我們“善有善報”是一亙古不變的天理。

「結草」的典故見於《左傳.宣公十五年》。公元前 594年的秋七月,秦桓公出兵伐晉,晉軍和秦兵在晉地輔氏(今陝西大荔縣)交戰,晉將魏顆與秦將杜回相遇,二人撕殺在一起,正在難分難解之際,魏顆突然見一老人用草編的繩子套住杜回,使這位堂堂的秦國大力士站立不穩,摔倒在地,當場被魏顆所俘,使得魏顆在這次戰役中大敗秦師。

晉軍獲勝收兵後,當天夜裡,魏顆在夢中見到那位白天為他結繩絆倒杜回的老人,老人說,我就是你把她嫁走而沒有讓她為你父親陪葬的那女子的父親。我今天這樣做是為了報答你的大恩大德!

原來,晉國大夫魏武子有位無兒子的愛妾。魏武子剛生病的時候囑咐兒子魏顆說:「我死之後,你一定要把她嫁出去。」不久魏武子病重,又對魏顆說:「我死之後,一定要讓她為我殉葬。」等到魏武子死後,魏顆沒有把那愛妾殺死陪葬,而是把她嫁給了別人。魏顆說:「人在病重的時候,神智是昏亂不清的,我嫁此女,是依據父親神智清醒時的吩咐。」

「銜環」典故則見於《後漢書﹒楊震傳》中的注引《續齊諧記》,楊震父親楊寶九歲時,在華陰山北,見一黃雀被老鷹所傷,墜落在樹下,為螻蟻所困。楊寶憐之,就將它帶回家,放在巾箱中,只給它喂飼黃花,百日之後的一天,黃雀羽毛豐滿,就飛走了。當夜,有一黃衣童子向楊寶拜謝說:「我是西王母的使者,君仁愛救拯,實感成濟。」並以白環四枚贈與楊寶,說:「它可保佑君的子孫位列三公,為政清廉,處世行事象這玉環一樣潔白無暇。」

果如黃衣童子所言,楊寶的兒子楊震、孫子楊秉、曾孫楊賜、玄孫楊彪四代官職都官至太尉,而且都剛正不阿,為政清廉,他們的美德為後人所傳誦。

後世將「結草」「銜環」合在一起,流傳至今,比喻感恩報德,至死不忘。


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