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殷紂妲己

列女傳

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妲己者,殷紂之妃也。嬖幸於紂。
Da Ji was the wife of emperor Zhou of the Yin dynasty. She was favored by Zhou.

紂材力過人,手格猛獸,
Zhou's courage and strength exceeded that of other people, with his hands he resisted wild beasts.

智足以距諫,辯足以飾非,
His cleverness was sufficient to keep away any complaints, his ability of speech sufficient to gloss over any faults.

矜人臣以能,高天下以聲,以為人皆出己之下,
(???)

好酒淫樂,不離妲己,
He liked drinking and lewd entertainment, and never left Da Ji.

妲己之所譽貴之,妲己之所憎誅之。
He valued those who Da Ji praised, and executed those she detested.

作新淫之聲、北鄙之舞、靡靡之樂,
He created new obscene tunes, the dance of Beibi, the music of Mimi.

收珍物,積之於後宮,
He gathered precious objects and amassed them in the women's chambers.

諛臣群女咸獲所欲,
Flattering ministers and the girls of the harem all were given what they wanted.

積糟為邱,流酒為池,懸肉為林,
The lees of wine making formed entire mounds, there was a pool full of wine, there was a forest of hanging meat.

使人裸形相逐其閒,
People were made to chase each other around naked among this.

為長夜之飲,妲己好之。
All-night banquets were held, to the pleasure of Da Ji.

百姓怨望,諸侯有畔者,
The common people hated him, and some feudal lords were rebellious.

紂乃為炮烙之法,膏銅柱,加之炭,
Zhou then invented the paoluo punishment, which consisted of greasing a copper pillar, putting it in charcoal,

令有罪者行其上,輒墮炭中,妲己乃笑。
then letting criminals walk on top of it, so that they immediately fell down into the charcoal. Da Ji laughed at this.

比干諫曰:「不脩先王之典法,而用婦言,禍至無日。」
Bi Gan remonstrated, saying: "If you do not attend to the laws of the former kings, and if you insist on applying the words of your wife, then disaster is imminent."

紂怒,以為妖言。
Zhou was furious, and considered these words heretical.

妲己曰:「吾聞聖人之心有七竅。」於是剖心而觀之。
Da Ji said: "I heard that the heart of a sage has seven holes." Then they opened up his heart and inspected it.

囚箕子,微子去之。
Zhou imprisoned Ji Zi, Wei Zi went to him.

武王遂受命,興師伐紂,戰于牧野,紂師倒戈,
King Wu then received the Mandate, raised troops to attack Zhou, fought at the fields of Mu, where Zhou's army turned against him.

紂乃登廩臺,衣寶玉衣而自殺。
Zhou then climbed the tower of Lin, put on jewel-encrusted clothing and killed himself.

於是武王遂致天之罰,斬妲己頭,懸於小白旗,
Thereupon King Wu delivered the punishment of Heaven, cut off Da Ji's head and hung it on a small white flag,

以為亡紂者是女也。
because he considered this woman to be responsible for Zhou's demise.

書曰:「牝雞無晨,牝雞之晨,惟家之索。」
The document says: "The hen should not call the morning. If the hen calls the morning, the house should be ransacked for baleful influences."
Note: from Bernhard Karlgren's translation of 牧誓 (The Book of Documents, p. 29)

詩云:「君子信盜,亂是用暴,匪其止共,維王之邛。」此之謂也。
The ode says: "The lord believes the scoundrels, the disorder thereby becomes violent; [...] they are not courteous and respectful, they are the kings' grief." This applies here.
Note: from Bernhard Karlgren's translation of 巧言 (ode 198).

Vocabulary

嬖幸、嬖倖 (bi4 xing4)to treat as favorite
材力 (cai2 li4)courage and strength
格 (ge2)to resist
距 (ju4)to keep away
飾非 (shi4 fei1)to use elaborate speech in order to gloss over faults
矜 (jin1)Dictionary says: 揮動, 竦動, 激奋, 誇耀, 驕傲, 崇尚, 莊重, 敬重, 注重 modest, pitiable, dignified, vigorous
譽 (yu4)to praise
憎 (zeng1)to hate
珍 (zhen1)precious
諛 (yu2)to flatter
咸 (xian2)all, unite
糟 (zao1)lees (from wine making)
懸 (xuan2)hanging
裸形 (luo3 xing2)naked
長夜之飲 (chang2 ye4 zhi1 yin3)all-night banquet
怨望 (yuan4 wang4)to hate, to resent
畔 (pan4)to revolt, to betray
炮烙 (pao2 luo4), 炮格 (pao2 ge2)a type of torture invented by Zhou (纣)
膏 (gao1)fat, grease
柱 (zhu4)pillar
炭 (tan4)charcoal
輒 (zhe2)immediately
墮 (duo4)to fall
脩、修 (xiu1)to well attend to
典法 (dian3 fa3)a code of laws, statues
禍至無日 (huo4 zhi4 wu2 ri4)imminent disaster
竅 (qiao4)hole
剖 (pou1)to cut open
興 (xing1)raise, begin
倒戈 (dao3 ge1)to turn one's weapons against one's own side, to surrender to the enemy
罰 (fa2)punishment
斬 (zhan3)to cut off

Questions