天下 – Chinese philosophy and culture

tiānxià 天下

Tianxia (All Under Heaven)

古多指天子统治范围的全部土地及统治权。古人认为,大夫的统治范围是“家”,诸侯的统治范围是“国”,天子的统治范围是“天下”。“天下”字面义是“普天之下”,实质指天子统治或名义之下的“家国”统合体所覆盖的全部疆域,并包括天下所有的人及国家的统治权。后演变指全民族或全世界。

This term referred mainly to all the land under the name of the Son of Heaven and the right to rule on such land. The ancient Chinese held that the rule of senior officials was over their enfeoffed land, and that of dukes and princes was over feudal states. The rule of the Son of Heaven was over all the land. Literally, tianxia (天下) means “all under heaven.” It actually refers to all the territory embracing the enfeoffed land and feudal states under the rule or in the name of the Son of Heaven, as well as all the subjects and the right to rule. The term has later evolved to refer to the whole natin or the whole world.

引例 Citations:

◎溥天之下,莫非王土;率土之滨,莫非王臣。(《诗经·小雅·北山》)

(普天之下,无一不是天子的土地;四海之内,无一不是天子的臣民。)

All land under heaven falls within the domain of the Son of Heaven; all those on this land are his subjects. (The Book of Songs)

◎寡助之至,亲戚畔之;多助之至,天下顺之。(《孟子·公孙丑下》)

(拥护的人特别少,连亲戚都叛离他;拥护的人特别多,天下所有的人都归顺他。)

With little popular support, even his relatives will betray and desert him; but with massive popular support, everyone under heaven will pledge allegiance to him. (Mencius)

◎天下兴忘,匹夫有责。(梁启超《饮冰室文集》卷三十三“痛定罪言”三引)

(天下的兴盛与衰亡,[关乎到每一个人,因此]人人都有责任。)

The rise and fall of a nation is the concern of every citizen. (Liang Qichao: Collections of lce Drinking Study)

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