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                Home Chinese Idiom 后來居上 (hòu lái jū shàng)
                后來居上 (hòu lái jū shàng)
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                altThis set phrase is derived from the complaints Ji An made to the emperor.
                Ji Anlived at the time of Emperor Wudi of the Western Han Dynasty (xī hàn 西漢,206 B.C.-A.D.24). He was respected for being upright and just and for daring to speak the truth. He did not bother about amall matters in personal behaviour and in being an official. He was particular about actual effects and ,although he did not cause a stir ,he could keep the prefecture he governed in perfect order. Because of this. the imperial court transferred him to the central government from being the perfect of the Donghai Prefecture to being a commander in charge of the appointment and dismissal of the local officals.


                Once,Emperor Wudi said that he would implement the policy of benevolence and justice of Confucianism and would do good turns to the people.Emperor Wudi Had hardly finished his remards when Ji An said that there was no need for the emperor to say so.Why should the emperor bother,Ji An said, about pretending to implement the policy of benevolence and justice since he was so greedy and avaricious within himself? This choked the emperor off. The emperor suddenly Changed his countenance and declared the meeting over. All the civilian and military officers at court were breathless with anxiety for fear that Ji An might bring disaster upon himself because of this. After returning, Emperor Wudi said to the people around him that Ji An was a little too rude and too straightforward.

                For this reason ,Ji An was never promoted again. When he was the commander in charge of the appointment and dismissal of the local officials, both Gongsun Hong and Zhang Tang were low -ranking lfficials of little importance. Later ,they were promoted continuously. Gongsun Hong became the prime minister and Zhang Tang became the imperial censor. However, JiAn's post remained thesame. One day, Ji An said to Emperor Wudi that the way the emperor used his ministers was just like piling up firewood, which meant that the latecomers surpassed the old-timers. Of course, Emperor Wudi could see that Ji An was complaining. So,turning to his ministers, Emperor Wudi said, "It is true that no one can stop learning.You see, Ji An is making more and more indiscreet remarks."

                This story comes from The Historical Records. Later generations use the set phrase "the latecomers surpass the old-timers " to indicate that successors can cxcel the predecessors, which is quite different from the original idea when Ji An said that the latecomers surpassed the old-timers.


                有一次,漢武帝說要實行儒家的仁義之政,為老百姓辦好事了。沒等皇帝把話說完,汲黯就說:“陛下內心里那么貪婪多欲,表面上卻要裝得實行仁政,這是何苦 呢?”一句話把皇帝噎了回去。漢武帝登時臉色大變,宣布罷朝,滿朝文武都為汲黯捏著一把汗,擔心他會因此招來大禍。武帝回到宮里以后,對身邊的人說,汲黯 這個人也未免太粗太直了。

                從此以后,汲黯的官職再也沒有提升。他當主爵都尉的時候,公孫弘、張湯都還是不起眼的小官,后來,他們一個勁兒住上升,公孫弘當上了丞相,張湯做上了御史 大夫,可他汲黯還蹲在原地沒動窩。有一天,汲黯對武帝說,陛下使用群臣,跟碼劈柴一樣,是“后來者居上”??!漢武帝當然聽得出這是發牢騷。于是,轉臉對臣 下們說:“人真是不能不學習??!你們聽汲黯說話,越來越離譜了!”


                后來居上 (hòu lái jū shàng)
                【翻譯】The latecomers surpass the oldtimers.


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