成語故事

Give The Wrong-Doer a Way Out

Beginning with Yu the Great, the Xia Dynasty had lasted about four hundred years before Jie became the supreme ruler.

And that was in the 18th century BC. Jie was extremely tyrannical and dissolute. This aroused great resentment among the people. Tang, the Chief of the tribe Shang took advantage of this situation to overthrow the Xia Dynasty and established the Shang Dynasty in the early 17th century BC. Among the preparations for the overthrow had been the winning over of popular support.

One day, Tang was having a walk in the open country. He saw a man catching birds with a big net spread in a box-like and mumbling: "Come on, birds! Come into my net. All of you, whether you are flying high or low, east or west. Come into my net!"

Tang walked over and said to the man, "This method is ruthless! You'll spare no birds this way!" With these words, he cut the net down on three sides. Then he murmured in a light voice as if praying: "Oh, birds! Fly to the left or right as you like. And if you're really tired of your life, come into this net!"

When chiefs of other tribes heard about this, they were all moved. They said, "Tang is a good king indeed. He is so kind even to birds and beasts. He must be more merciful to human beings." And very soon, about forty tribes pledged allegiance to Tang.

From that story came the idiom "Open the net on three sides". Later, people changed it into "Give the wrong-doer a way out.", indicating to be lenient to the wrong-doers.

網開一面

從大禹到桀,夏朝一共持續了四百多年的歷史。

那是在公元前十八世紀。桀是個極端殘暴,放蕩的人。他激起了人民的極度不滿。部落商的領袖湯利用這個形勢,推翻了夏朝,並在公元前十七世紀早期建立了商朝。在準備這場推翻夏朝的行動中,湯贏得了廣泛的支持。

一天,湯在一片開闊的田野裡散步。他看見一個人正在捕鳥。那人支開一張像籠子般的大網,喃喃的說:「來吧,鳥兒們!飛到我的網裡來。無論是飛得高的還是低的,向東還是向西的,所有的鳥兒都飛到我的網裡來吧!」

湯走過去對那個人說:「你這種方法太殘忍了!這樣作你連一隻鳥也不放過!」

一邊說著,湯砍斷了三面網。然後,像做祈禱那樣,他輕輕的低聲說道,「哦,鳥兒們,喜歡向左飛的,就向左飛;喜歡向右飛的,就向右飛;如果你真的厭倦了你的生活,就飛入這張網吧!」

其他部落的首領得知這件事後都非常感動。他們說:「湯真是一位賢王啊。他對鳥獸都如此仁慈,何況是對人呢?」 不久就有四十多個部落宣誓效忠湯。

「網開三面」這個成語就是由此而來的。後來,人們把它改為「網開一面」,表示寬容的對待做錯事的人。


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