吴越同舟 – Chinese philosophy and culture

Wú-Yuè-tónɡzhōu 吴越同舟

People of Wu and Yue Are in the Same Boat.

吴、越两国人同乘一条船。比喻双方虽有旧怨,但面临共同的危难困境,也会团结一致,相互救助。春秋时代,吴、越是相互仇视的邻国,但当两国人同船渡江,遭遇风浪时,他们却相互救援,如同一个人的左右手一样。它包含的思想是:敌友不是绝对的,也不是永恒的,在一定的境遇下可以化敌为友。

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Wu and Yue were neighboring states which were hostile to each other. Wu and Yue people being in the same boat is a metaphor for overcoming old grievances to face common danger. When people from these two states were crossing a river in the same boat and encountered a storm, they had to work together to save themselves; in that sense, they were just like the left and right hands of the same person. The story implies that there is no absolute and perpetual enmity or friendship. Under certain circumstances, an enemy can be turned into a friend.

引例 Citation:

◎吴越之人,同舟济江,中流遇风波,其相救如左右手者,所患同也。(《孔丛子·论势》)

(吴、越两国的人同乘一条船渡江,中途遭遇风浪,他们之所以像一个人的左右手一样相互救援,是因为他们遇到共同的危难。)

People of the states of Wu and Yue were crossing a river in the same boat when they encountered strong winds and waves midstream. To save themselves from a common peril, they worked together like the left and right hands of the same person. (Collected Works of the Confucian Family)

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