Mon, Apr 17, 2017 - Page 9 News List

USING IDIOMS 活用成語

Bust of King Pyrrhus, public domain.
皮洛士國王的頭像,公眾領域。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

Chinese practice

功成骨枯

Victory comes from dried up bones

(gong1 cheng2 gu3 ku1)

根據古希臘傳記家普魯塔克記載,伊庇魯斯聯邦皮洛士國王在西元前二七九年皮洛士戰爭中,阿斯庫路姆戰役勝利後說道:「我軍若再打贏羅馬一戰,我們自己也會徹底毀滅了。」

這場戰役使皮洛士的軍隊傷亡慘重。他失去了很多屬下,包括重要將領及好友。他率軍由希臘渡海至羅馬共和國打仗,身在國外戰場,深知補充兵源之不易,而羅馬卻能源源不絕補充新兵。

一千多年之後的中國,唐代詩人曹松寫了題名為〈己亥歲〉的一首詩,最後兩行詩句是這麼寫的:

憑君莫話封侯事

一將功成萬骨枯

最末一句即為成語「功成骨枯」之由來:勝利建立於枯骨上。這是隱喻某人之所以達到個人之成功,是以犧牲無數他人作為代價。

雖然這無疑對皮洛士國王沒什麼安慰作用,但普魯塔克所描述皮洛士的悲嘆留下了一個有趣的隱喻:「Pyrrhic victory」(皮洛士式勝利),意為付出慘痛損失所獲致的勝利,讓這種勝利很難被視為成功。 (台北時報編譯林俐凱譯)

雙方為了堅持各自的意識形態而激戰,死傷慘重,千年的文明炸成廢墟,即便贏得了勝利,也是功成骨枯,沒什麼意義了。

(The two sides fought a fierce war to protect their own ideologies, with catastrophic loss of life. With these ancient civilizations destroyed in the conflagration, winning the war was a Pyrrhic victory.)

很多大企業老闆的財富是靠壓榨無數員工而來,可說是一將功成萬骨枯。

(The wealth of many business magnates was built on the backs of countless workers, relying on the blood and sweat of others.)

英文練習

Pyrrhic victory

“If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”

So said King Pyrrhus of Epirus — according to Plutarch — following the Battle of Asculum in 279 BC, during the Pyrrhic War.

The battle had taken a terrible toll on Pyrrhus’ army. He had lost many men, including much of the officers, among whom he counted great friends. He was in a foreign land, and knew that he would find it difficult to replenish his numbers, while the Romans had a plentiful stock of new recruits to replace their fallen.

Over 1,000 years later, in China, the Tang poet Cao Song would write a poem called jihai sui (The War Year). The last two lines of the poem were:

Talk not of the glories of awards and nobility,

A general’s victory is built upon 10,000 rotting bones.

It is from the final line that the Chinese proverb 功成骨枯 derives: victory comes from dried up bones. It is used as a metaphor for someone who achieves a personal success at the expense of the considerable sacrifice of many others.

Although it would doubtless have been of little consolation to King Pyrrhus, Plutarch’s account of his lamentation has bequeathed us an interesting metaphor: the Pyrrhic victory, defined as a success that has inflicted such devastating loss on the victor that it can hardly be considered a success at all. (Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

Well, they won the game, but at least two players were seriously injured. I’m afraid that was a bit of a Pyrrhic victory.

(他們贏了比賽,但是至少有兩位球員受了嚴重的傷,我看這場勝利恐怕是得不償失。)

Now I know how Pyrrhus felt. I think I’ll just go home and lick my wounds, if that’s OK with you.

(我現在可以體會皮洛士國王的感覺了。如果你不介意的話,我想我還是回家自我療傷好了。)

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