优人 – Chinese philosophy and culture

yōurén 优人

Entertainers

古代具有说唱、舞蹈、戏谑等表演才能的艺人,宋元以后也指称戏曲演员。又称倡优、俳优、优伶等。最初是宫廷贵族为娱乐目的而供养的小群体,宋元以后随着城市发展而出现专业艺人团队。在重政教、轻审美的古代,优人社会地位低下。司马迁《史记·滑稽列传》肯定优人对君王的劝谏作用,这也成为后世评价名优的一个重要尺度以及艺人的自觉追求。

Entertainers, known as Youren (优人), or Changyou (倡优), Paiyou (俳优), or Youling (优伶), were folk artists who performed story-telling, dancing, acrobatics, and comedy. After the Song and Yuan dynasties, they also performed in operas. Initially formed as small groups of entertainers sponsored by court aristocrats for entertainment, they evolved into professional performing troupes as cities grew in size after the Song and Yuan dynasties. In old China when ideological and ethical principles were valued to the neglect of entertainment, entertainers were low in social status. Sima Qian, in the “Biographies of Jesters” section of his Records of the Historian, praised entertainers for boldly giving moral advice to rulers. This practice later became a major criterion for commenting on entertainers, and it also became a conscious choice of aspiring entertainers.

引例 Citation:

◎今吴王淫于乐而忘其百姓,乱民功,逆天时;信谗喜优,憎辅远弼。(《国语·越语下》)

(现在吴王沉缅声色,忘记百姓,扰乱百姓农事,违反天时;相信谗言,喜欢优人,憎恨疏远那些敢于直谏的辅弼大臣。)

The King of Wu indulges himself in pleasure making and forgets all about the common folk. He meddles in farming by violating the laws governing the cycle of seasons, trusts slanderers, relishes the company of entertainers; he just does not want to hear candid advice from his ministers and keep them alienated.(Discourses on Governance of the States)

◎及优旃之讽漆城,优孟之谏葬马,并谲辞饰说,抑止昏暴。(刘勰《文心雕龙·谐隐》)

(还有秦代有位叫旃的优人劝阻秦二世在城墙上刷漆,楚国有位叫孟的优人劝阻楚庄王厚葬爱马,他们都是用含蓄委婉的话,来劝阻君王昏聩暴戾的行为。)

A Qin-dynasty entertainer called Zhan advised the Second Emperor of Qin against painting city walls, and an entertainer of the State of Chu named Meng asked King Zhuang of Chu not to bury his beloved steed extravagantly. Both of them tried to stop their rulers from acting in a fatuous and self-indulgent way.(Liu Xie: The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons)

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