Mon, Mar 20, 2017 - Page 9 News List

USING IDIOMS
活用成語

Richard Westall’s Sword of Damocles, 1812, in the Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America, Public Domain.
理查德·韋斯托爾繪製的《達摩克利斯之劍》,一八一二年,藏於美國北卡羅萊納州教堂山阿克蘭藝術博物館,公眾領域。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

Chinese practice

千鈞一髮

1,000 pounds hanging by a single thread

(qian1 jun1 yi1 fa3)

達摩克利斯是義大利敘拉古城邦迪奧尼修斯二世(西元前三九七年生,西元前三四三年卒)的朝臣。迪奧尼修斯二世在西元前三六七-三五七年以及西元前三四六-三四四年統治位於義大利西西里島的城邦敘拉古。迪奧尼修斯二世並不得民心,而可說是個暴君。

傳說故事描寫道,達摩克利斯為了諂媚君王,跟君王說自己有多麼羨慕君王的地位、權力與財富。迪奧尼修斯提議兩人交換身分,達摩克利斯便欣然同意了。然而迪奧尼修斯卻在王座上方懸掛了一把很大的劍,而只用一條馬鬃繫著。馬鬃隨時可能斷掉,而那把劍也隨時可能掉下來刺向達摩克利斯的頭。達摩克利斯便明白了所有統治者皆須面臨的那種如影隨形、隨時可能會被毀滅的危機感。

在文學、繪畫和通俗文化中,「達摩克利斯之劍」被用來描繪一種迫在眉睫的危險感,雖並不僅限於掌權之人。

這種毀滅的逼近,或是迫在眉睫、隨時可能發生的危險,以及生死一瞬間的意涵,可以用成語「千鈞一髮」來表達。「千鈞一髮」字面上的意義是一千磅—技術上是說一千鈞,或三萬斤的重量,只以一條線懸吊著。最早見於《列子.仲尼》,此篇是道家思想典籍《列子》中關於孔子的描述。篇中樂正子輿及中山公子牟便談到「髮引千鈞」,即「用一根頭髮拉一千斤」,雖然此處並未隱含有危險的意思。之後唐朝文學家韓愈在其《與孟尚書書》則寫道「其危如一髮引千鈞」,意指「情勢的危急如同用一根頭髮拉著一千鈞的重量」。

(台北時報編譯林俐凱譯)

比賽時間剩下不到一秒,在這千鈞一髮的時刻隊長投進了一球,最後逆轉勝。

(With less than one second left of the game, the team captain, right at this crucial moment, shot the ball in, finally coming from behind to win.)

這醉漢居然在繁忙的快車道上逆向行駛,真是千鈞一髮、險象環生。

(The drunk driver suddenly started driving the wrong way down the busy fast lane, it was really hairy, there could have been a terrible accident at any moment.)

英文練習

The Sword of Damocles

Damocles was a member of the court of Dionysius II (397 BC – 343 BC), the ruler of Syracuse in Sicily from 367 BC to 357 BC and again from 346 BC to 344 BC. Far from being a wise and well-loved ruler, he was known as something of a tyrant.

According to the story, Damocles was trying to flatter the king, saying how much he envied his position and power and the opulence that surrounded him. Dionysius offered to swap places, and Damocles readily agreed. The king, however, arranged for a sword to be suspended above the throne, hanging by a single hair of the tail of a horse. Any moment, the hair would snap, and the sword would fall on Damocles’ head. He had come to realise the sense of impending doom that accompanies all rulers.

References to the “the sword of Damocles” in literature, paintings and popular culture invoke this sense of imminent danger, although not necessarily for those in power.

This idea of impending doom, or imminent peril, of the possibility of danger just around the corner, a matter of life and death, is served in Chinese with the idiom 千鈞一髮, literally meaning 1,000 pounds — technically 1,000 jun, or 30,000 catties — hanging by a single thread. The earliest reference comes in the Confucius chapter of the Taoist Book of Liezi, in which Yue Zeng Zi Yu uses the phrase 「髮引千鈞」 “to pull 1,000 jun with a single hair” when speaking to Duke Mou of Zhongshan, although this reference does not yet imply the idea of danger. This meaning does appear later, however, in the Letter to Minister Meng by the Tang dynasty essayist and poet Han Yu, who wrote 「其危如一髮引千鈞」: “this situation is as precarious as a single hair pulling 1,000 jun.

(Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

I could lose my job any day. I feel like I have the sword of Damocles hanging over me.

(我隨都可能飯碗不保。感覺如坐針氈。)

The results of the referendum are hanging like the sword of Damocles over the business community.

(公投結果命運未卜,商業界焦急地等待。)

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