成語故事

To Neglect The Root And Attend To The Tip

During the Warring States Period, the king of Ch'i once sent a messenger to the kingdom of Chao, to call on the king and deliver a letter sending his regards. Before the king of Chao even opened the letter, he asked the messenger, "How are the crops in Ch'i growing this year? How are the people? Is the king in good health?" The messenger very angrily answered, "It is the king of Ch'i who sent me to call on you, and yet you first ask about the crops and the people. Could it be that you are concerned more with the lowly than with the noble?" The king replied, "You don't understand. If we know that a country has no crop, how could it have any people? And if it has no people, where does the king come from? Could it be that you want me to neglect the root, and attend to the tip?"

Today, the idiom "To Neglect The Root And Attend To The Tip" means to attend to trifles to the neglect of the essentials.

捨本逐末

戰國時候,有一次,齊國的國王派人到趙國去訪問趙王,還帶著齊王的親筆問候信。趙王還沒把信拆開,就先問派來的人說:「貴國今年的莊稼好嗎?人民的生活怎麼樣?國王的身體好嗎?」那人聽了,很不高興地回答說:「是齊王派我來向您問候的,您不問候齊王,反而先問莊稼和人民,難道是先賤後貴嗎?」趙王說:「你的觀念錯了,要知道一個國家沒有莊稼,那裡會有人民?如果沒有人民,那裡來的國王呢?難道你讓我捨本去問末事嗎?」

捨本問末是說不重視根本,反而重視不重要的事,也就是現在說的「捨本逐末」。


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