刘向（约公元前77年-公元前6年），原名更生，字子政，西汉楚国彭城人，祖籍秦泗水郡丰县，汉朝宗室，先祖为丰县刘邦异母弟刘交。刘向是西汉经学家、目录学家、文学家、史学家，其散文主要是秦疏和校雠古书的叙录。刘向的诗词全集： 《郑同北见赵王》 《人有卖骏马者》 《吴王欲伐荆》 《南辕北辙》 《荆轲刺秦王》 《千金求马》 《叶公好龙》 《齐桓公登门访士》
Buying a Good Horse
There was a king who was willing to pay a thousand pieces of gold for a horse that could run a thousand li without stopping. For three years he tried in vain to find such a steed.
Then someone offered: “let me look for a horse for your Majesty.”
Then king agreed to this.
After three months this man came back, having spent five hundred pieces of gold on a horse’s skull.
The king was most enraged.
“I want a live horse!” he roared. “What use is a dead horse to me? Why spend fiver hundred pieces of gold on nothing?”
But the man replied: “If you will spend five hundred pieces of gold on a dead horse, won’t you give much more for a live one? When people hear of this, they will know you are really willing to pay for a good horse, and will quickly send you their best.”
Sure enough, in less than a year the king succeeded in buying three excellent horses.
–Warring States Anecdotes