(Translation) 畫蛇添足

장서각위키
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Original Script

楚有祠者,賜其舍人卮酒,舍人相謂曰:「數人飲之不足,一人飲之有餘,請畫地為蛇,先成者飲酒。」一人蛇先成,引酒且飲之,乃左手持卮,右手畫蛇曰:「吾能為之足。」未成,一人之蛇成,奪其卮曰:「蛇固無足,子安能為之足?」遂飲其酒。為蛇足者,終亡其酒。《戰國策·齊策二》


Translation

Student: Jelena Gledić


In the state of Chu there was an official in charge of sacrificial rituals who bestowed his staff a goblet of wine. The staff talked among themselves: “If several people drink it, it is not enough. If one person drinks it, there is too much. Let us [each] draw a snake on the ground, and whoever finishes first drinks the wine.” One person’s snake was finished first, [so] he pulled forth the wine and was about to drink it. Then, with his left hand holding the goblet and with his right hand [still] drawing the snake, he said: “I can give it legs.” He had not finished [yet when] another person’s snake was done, so [that person] snatched away the goblet and said: “Snakes certainly do not have feet, how could you give it feet?” Thereupon, he drank the wine. The person who gave the snake feet in the end did not get the wine.
“Strategies of the Warring States”, Strategies of Qi no. 2

  • Discussion Questions:

+ I was thinking whether to leave 酒 as liquor, as it can be many types of liquor, but as 卮 also has the meaning "a measure of wine", I decided to go with "wine". Of course, perhaps the author of the dictionary entry saw wine as a generic term, but liquor sounded too generic for me in this translation.