Chinese Idiom:前倨后恭 (qián jù hòu gōng)

During the Warring States Period (zhàn guó 战国), there lived a politician named Su CHin who tried to get a job as a governement official, but to no avail. His parents, his sister-in-law, and his wife were all ashamed of him, but it was his sister-in-law who treated him worst. She would ofter mock him, saying that he would never amount to anything.

Su CHin felt very hurt, but he did not lose hope. He studied hard every day, and finally discouvered what he called the "zong-heng" principle.

Su Chin traveled to many kingdoms explaining his ideas, and at first he was rejected everywher he went. But his suggestion that the kingdoms of Yan, Chao, Ch’i Ch’u, Wei and Han all unite to fight against Ch’in was heartily accepted in both Yan and Chao. What’s more, the leaders of these two kingdoms asked him to go persuade the other four leaders to go along with the plan. Later, these six kingdoms were united, and Su Chin became their very well-known and highly respected prime minister. One time, he was passing through his home town, and his parents and sister-in-law all came out to welcome him. Su Chin laughed and sad to his sister-in-law, "You were always so arrogant; why is it that you’ve suddenly become huble?" His sister-in-law felt very ashamed.

Today, this idiom can be used to describe anyone wo acts haughtily towards another person, but then becomes respectful upon learning that that person is of high status.

苏秦是战国时期的人。开始苏秦来到秦国, 向秦王推行自己的政治主张, 但是秦王对此没有兴趣, 最后旅费用完了,衣服也破了,苏秦只得回到洛阳家中。见苏秦这样狼狈,父母懒得同他讲话,妻子只顾织布,也不看他一眼,他要求嫂子给他弄点吃的,嫂子不但 不给,还数落了他一顿。苏秦很难过,于是立志苦读,研究兵法。有时看书看瞌睡了,他就用锥子猛刺大腿,让自己继续读下去。

后来,苏秦学问有成了,游与国、赵国,使燕、赵、齐、楚、韩、魏六国结成同盟,自己统领了六国的军队。有一次,他路过洛阳老家。苏秦的父母,拄着拐杖,早 早在大路口等候。回到家里,妻子不敢正眼看他。苏秦的嫂子对他毕恭毕敬。苏秦笑道:“嫂子,你以前瞧不起我,现在为甚么却这样谦卑?”嫂子说: “如今叔叔做了大官,发了大财,我哪敢象从前一样。”

“前倨后恭” 指待人接物态度前后不一。

前倨后恭 (qián jù hòu gōng)
【翻译】proud at first but humble afterwards.

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