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A Study of “Plowing” (Geng 耕) in Early Literary Texts 早期文獻中「耕」之研究

Jao Tsung-I Academy of Sinology (October 13, 2023)

SEMINAR SERIES : 2023 HKBU Institute of Creativity Visiting Fellow

LENGTH : 60 min.
ACCESS : Open to all
SUMMARY : When Wan Zhang asked Mencius about how Yi Yin sought an introduction to Tang, Mencius replied that he had done so by “plowing the wilderness of the Youxin Clan, delighting in the principles of Yao and Shun.” Mencius also responded to Zhou Xiao’s question, “Did superior men of old take office?” by quoting a passage on plowing from the Book of Rites: “A prince plows himself, and is assisted by the people, to supply the millet for sacrifice. His wife keeps silkworms, and unwinds their cocoons, to make the garments for sacrifice.” Later, still in discussion with Zhou Xiao, Mencius drew a direct parallel between plowing and governing: “An officer's being in office is like the ploughing of a husbandman.” Shun’s ploughing on Mount Li caused Yao to notice and prefer him. Moreover, famous figures such as Sima Qian, Wu Zixu, and Chen She all began or restarted their careers behind a plow. This paper will therefore attempt to examine the use of the motif of plowing in early Chinese texts, examining the scenario of “plowing in the wilds” 耕於野 and other tropes, and stressing especially the close relationship between plowing and politics.

當萬章詢問孟子伊尹是如何求見湯時,孟子回答說他是通過「耕於有莘之野,而樂堯舜之道焉」而達成的。孟子還回應了周霄的問題「古之君子仕乎?」,他引用了《禮記》中關於耕作的一段話來作答:「諸侯耕助,以供粢盛;夫人蠶繅,以為衣服。」後來,在與周霄的討論中,孟子直接將耕作與治國相提並論:「士之仕也,猶農夫之耕也。」舜耕於歷山,引起了堯的注意和重用。此外,像司馬遷、伍子胥和陳涉等著名人物都是憑藉犁耕展開他們的偉業。因此,本文將嘗試考察早期中國文獻中之耕作主題,探討「耕於野」等情景和其他修辭手法,以強調耕作與政治之間的密切關係。  [Go to the full record in the library's catalogue]

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