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Idioms Lesson 44
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The hounds are killed for food once all the hares are bagged

During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), there were two famous senior officials in the State of Yue. Gou Jian, the King of Yue, ignored the advice of Fan Li and blindly launched an attack against the neighboring State of Wu. As a result, he suffered a disastrous defeat. The King of Wu caught him and had him as a slave. Fan Li persuaded him to endure humiliation, pretend to surrender and wait for an opportunity to avenge. Also, Wen Zhong paid many visits to the State of Wu, trying to help restore Gou's confidence. Years later, Gou was set free. With the help of Fan and Wen, the State of Yue rapidly rehabilitated and later annexed the Wu.

As they had made so much contribution, both Fan and Wen were awarded great riches. Gou Jian even offered half of the state to Fan. However, knowing Gou too well, Fan rejected and decided to live in seclusion. As a hermit, Fan wrote to his friend Wen. In his letter, Fan said, "When all the flying birds have been shot down, the good bow is put away; when all the hares have been bagged, the hounds are killed for food. I suggest you withdraw to avoid disaster." Taking his advice, Wen pretended to be ill and stopped attending imperial court meetings. But it was too late. Gou Jian believed the slanderous gossip about Wen and ordered Wen to kill himself.

Later, people use the idiom "tù sǐ gǒu pēng" to mean "trusted aides are eliminated when they have outlived their usefulness."

tù sǐ gǒu pēng




jiǎo tù sān kū
A wily hare has three burrows. – A crafty person has more than one hideout.

tù qǐ hú luò
The moment a hare is flushed out, the falcon swoops down. – be agile; have a ready pen

wū fēi tù zǒu
rotation of the sun and the moon – swift passage of time

shī zi bó tù
(like) a lion pouncing on a hare – go all out even when fighting a weaker enemy or tackling a minor problem; not take anything lightly

jiàn tù gù quǎn
look at one's dog when seeing the hare – not yet too late to take action in an emergency

jìng ruò chǔ nǚ, dòng ruò tuō tù
as quiet as a maiden when at rest and as nimble as an escaping hare when in action; demure as a maiden and quick as a rabbit; deliberate in counsel, prompt in action

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