S1E02-Fen-wise and Yuan-foolish
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In this new episode (weekly, as advertised), Laszlo introduces a story from the early 4th Century BCE, the Warring States period that preceded unification of China under Qin Shihuang. It concerns the ruler down in the southwest kingdom of Shu, centered around Chengdu. Thanks to his greediness for a small gift, he ended up losing big later on. He was so busy counting his pennies earned in a quick score that he lost sight of the pounds he’d lose down the road. This ruler’s moment of weakness was immortalized by Lü Buwei in his highly respected Lü Shi Chunqiu who called him out as one who Tan Xiao Shi Da.
TERMS FROM THIS EPISODE
分 1/100th of a Yuan
元 100 fen = 1 Yuan (or 1 RMB)
Zhongguo 中国 China, Middle Kingdom
chengyu 成语 Chinese Saying, proverb, idiom
King Huiwen of Qin 秦惠文王 King of the Qin State from 338-311 BCE (a century before Qin Dynasty founding emperor Qin Shihuang)
Qin 秦 The name of the dynasty and state with the Ying 赢 family as its core
Xian 西安 Capital of Shaanxi Province, formerly known as Chang’an
Shiniu Dao 石牛道 the Stone Cattle Road
Qinling Mountains 秦岭山 Mountain chain in southern Shaanxi separating northwest and southwest China
Shaanxi 陕西 Province in China
Sichuan 四川 Province in China
Tan 贪 to covet or be greedy for something.
Xiao 小 small
Tan Xiao 贪小 greedy for small things.
Shi 失 to lose
Da 大 great or big
Shi da 矢大 lose big.
Tan Xiao Shi Da 贪小失大 because you are greedy for the small thing, you end up losing the big thing.
Shu 蜀国 Ancient kingdom centered around Chengdu
Ba State 巴国 Just east of Shu. Centered around Chongqing
Lü Buwei 吕不韦 Early advisor to Qin King Ying Zheng (and rumored to be the King’s father). Later executed after Ying Zheng became Emperor Qin Shihuang
Lüshi Chunqiu 吕氏春秋 The Spring and Autumn Annals of Lü Buwei, a leading primary source of these times.