(Translation) 2019 吮疽之仁

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Original Script

吳起為魏將, 攻中山, 軍人有病疽者, 吳子自吮其膿, 其母泣之,旁人曰:「將軍於而子如是,尚何為泣?」對曰:「吳子吮此子父之創, 而殺之於注水之戰, 戰不旋踵而死。今又吮之, 安知是子何戰而死, 是以哭之矣!」 《說苑.卷九》


Student Translation : Olga

Wu Qi was a Wei General. [He] attacked Zhongshan. Among the soldiers was one who was suffering from abscesses. [General] Wu sucked his puss himself. The mother [of the soldier] wept about it. Onlookers said: "The general is like this to your son, yet why are [you] crying?" [She] replied: "[General] Wu also sucked on wounds of his father; that killed him in the battle of Chu river. In the battle [he] did not turn [around] and died. Now again [general] sucked it (abscesses). So how do I know in what battle this son will die? So I am crying about it.

  • Discussion Questions:

1. As Dr.Oh explained in class compound 旋踵 literally means "turn one's heels" as in "to flee". I could not think of an exact equivalent in English, but was wondering whether "turn one's back" could be used here to convey the meaning of quitting.

(Emma) Would it be OK to say 'defect' or is that too much of a Western and contemporary word? Maybe "he did not turn his back"?

2. I am a bit confused why the mother keeps saying "this son". Does she have multiple sons fighting under different generals?
(YO) Aha, good point. Perhaps she did have more than one son. Or, she might have been saying something like "this child" or "this boy" by it?