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【每週成語】
懷璧其罪

楊愛民

成語:懷璧其罪(HUAI BI QI ZUI):The precious stone lands its innocent possessor in jail; an innocent man gets into trouble because of his wealth; one’s only crime was only to carry a jade; an innocent person who just possesses a piece of center-hole light green jade was convicted and put in jail.
出處:左傳,桓公10年。
釋義:匹夫無罪,懷璧其罪。一個正常快樂無罪的人,一旦身上有了寶物、錢財、或其他貴重的東西,就有被謀害的可能。後來延伸到才智、地位、聲威等,受到別人的嫉妒及潛在的威脅和危險。本文除了闡述原來的故事外,還擴大到稀有動物,如大象、盔犀鳥。近似語 : 象齒焚身。
故事:豫叔引周諺說,“匹夫無罪,懷璧其罪。”意為一個沒有犯罪行為的人,一旦有了貴重的東西,就有了犯罪的危險。中國歷史上:虞公的弟弟虞叔有一塊珍貴的璧玉,虞公想向虞叔要。當時,虞叔捨不得給。回到家裡突然覺悟到,“周諺道,‘平民百姓本來無罪,因為身上藏了一塊玉就有了罪。’我何必收藏這塊玉而遺禍自己呢?”於是,立即將那塊玉獻給了虞公。虞公得到了那塊璧玉,又向虞叔要他的寶劍。虞叔自言說,“他這是貪得無厭,最後一定會要我的命。”於是他就率領軍隊攻伐虞公。虞公戰敗,逃到了共池。因為貪得無厭,虞公不但未能得到寶劍,自己的國土也喪失了。
自從三代以來,玉器配天地四方的禮器,又稱“六器”。“蒼璧禮天,黃碂(王宗)祭地。”璧玉尤其是最貴重的一種,代表天之器物,一般平民不應該擁有,否則便是僭越(不守本分)這便構成了犯罪。而虞公得到了璧玉,又要寶劍,這就太過分了,不合道理。故此故事叫人一方面要守本分,另一方面不要貪心。
非洲大象本來生活在熱帶森林裡,無憂無慮,自由快樂。可是,因為牠們生有一對值錢的象牙,便引起殺身之禍。象牙就是牠們的璧玉。
東南亞熱帶森林裡有一種稀有鳥類,名盔犀鳥(Helmet Hornbill Bird)。這種盔犀鳥頭上長了一個骨質冠盔,可以代替象牙,作為雕刻文字或圖畫或其他藝術品以圖利。所以被偷獵(見圖)。冠盔就是牠們的璧玉。
用法:大象因為有了象牙,盔犀鳥因為有了冠盔,這等於人身上有了璧玉,故可說牠們是“懷璧其罪”,因而被大批的獵殺。
故事英譯:Yu Shu cited Zhou’s proverb, “an innocent man because of treasuring a jade was convicted as a criminal,” which means that a man without any crime would risk to be convicted as a criminal because of treasuring valuable things. In ancient times, a nobleman, named Yu Shu, was the younger brother of Duke Yu, had a jade, which Duke Yu wanted to be given by Yu Shu. In the meantime, Yu Shu refused to give it at once to Duke Yu. After returning home, he suddenly woke up the meaning of Zhou’s aphorism “an innocent man was convicted guilt because of treasuring a jade”. So Yu Shu thought that why I had to possess it and might cause misfortune to myself. Then he went immediately to present the jade to Duke Yu. However, after getting the jade, Duke Yu asked Yu Shu to give his sword to him. Yu Shu said to himself, “Duke Yu is a greedy guy, finally I must be incurred disasters and lost my life.” Therefore Yu Shu led his troops to attack Duke Yu; Duke Yu was defeated and fled to Gong Chi Area.
After the Three Dynasties of Xia, Shang, & Zhou, jade were the ritual vessels for matching heaven and earth, and all directions of the universe. Jade were not be allowed to keep by common people, otherwise, they could be convicted as arrogation and would be put in jail as criminals. While Duke Yu had gotten the jade, again he wanted to get the sword of Yu Shu that he had gone too far to be reasonable. This story was warning people that they should not bite off more than they can chew on one hand and don’t be greedy on the other hand.
African elephants lived freely and pleasantly in the tropical forests, but they were trapped in losing-life risks because of having a pair of valuable tusks. Similarly a kind of rare birds called helmeted hornbill birds lived in South-East Asian forests as the western part of Indonesia, Malaysia, and southern Thailand. They were listed in the endangered fauna because of having a bony helmet on their hornbills which could be substituted of elephant ivories for carving arts. The elephant ivories and the bony helmets of the hornbill birds could be called the jade of human beings which could bring them disasters.



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