成語故事

Mau Suei Recommends Himself

毛遂自薦

Over 2,000 years ago, the kingdom of Ch'in surrounded the kingdom of Chao. The king of Chao sent Lord Ping Yuan to the kingdom of Ch'u to ask for assistance, and to see about forming an alliance against Ch'in. Lord Ping Yuan wanted to take with him twenty men who were well-versed in both the letters and the martial arts, but he could find only nineteen that were suitable. Then Mau Suei came and offered to accompany him. Lord Ping Yuan did not know Mau Suei at all, and said to him. "Such a capable person in a group is like and awl in a cloth bag; the awl will immediately pierce the bag and reveal itself. How come I didn't know before this what your capabilities were?" Mau Suei answered, "I am asking you to put me in the bag today! If you had done so before, the awl would've come through the bag before!"

Lord Ping Yuan took Mau Suei with him, and as expected, due to Mau Suei's quick-wittedness, bravery and eloquence, the king of Ch'u signed a treaty with Chao.

Today, this idiom can be used whenever a person recommends himself for a job or position, or makes his abilities or strong points known to other people.

毛遂自薦

在戰國的時候,有權有錢的人很喜歡供養一些有才能的人,以增強自己的勢力,在有事、需要有人出意見的時候,就讓他們策劃謀略,替自己解決問題。這樣的人被稱做食客,也叫門下客。

趙國的宰相平原君勢力龐大,家中養了幾千名食客。其中有位叫毛遂的食客,待了三年,都沒有什麼別的貢獻,平原君雖然覺得很奇怪,卻也沒有埋怨,任由他在家中吃住。

後來,趙國的國都邯鄲被秦軍包圍,情勢非常危急。於是趙王派平原君到楚國,勸說楚王和趙國合作,共同出兵對抗秦國。平原君回家後,準備從食客中選出二十個文武全才的人一同前往,可是選來選去只有十九人合格,還差一個人。平原君正傷腦筋,毛遂突然走上前對平原君說:「我是最適合的人選,願意跟從公子前往。」平原君說:「有才能的人在人群中,就好像一把鋒利的錐子放在袋子裡,立刻就會穿破袋子,顯露鋒芒。而你在我這三年,卻沒有傑出的表現,我看你還是留下吧!」毛遂回答:「我是現在才要進入袋子裡,不然我這把錐子早就穿破袋子,顯露出它的鋒利,而且連錐柄都要穿出袋子了。」平原君心想,反正一時之間也找不到適合的人選,於是平原君就帶著毛遂等二十人趕往楚國。

見到楚王,平原君說明了局勢和利害得失,費盡口舌,卻都無法說服楚王,同行的十九名食客也沒有辦法、想不出好點子。正當大家不知到該怎麼辦才好,毛遂這時候手按寶劍,走到楚王前面說:「大王的性命現在掌握在我的手中!楚國有幾百萬精兵,然而在上次的戰役中卻被秦國幾萬人的軍隊打敗,奪去了許多城池與土地,連我們趙國都替你們感到羞憤。趙國提議兩國聯合抗秦,是在替你們楚國報仇。」楚王聽了覺得毛遂說得有理,再加上毛遂拿著寶劍威脅,就同意結盟,訂下和約。並立刻發兵支持趙國,解了邯鄲之圍。

從此,平原君不敢再小看毛遂,而把他當作上賓招持。


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