Recently, a friend asked me about some meaning of several sentences of classical Chinese, which I also can't understand.






In the first sentence, I know it is about a 彜器,but especially the first part I cannot understand(I know 王is king)

In the second sentence, I know what 呜呼 and 夙夜means, but what is meaning of 密 ,显and 和 here?

In the third sentence, I completely cannot understand what is 维中是以,is 维meaningless? And what is 长means here, to extend? And 小子means king?as 小子 means youngsters now(am I correct?)

In the fourth sentence, from 孽to 播I completely cannot understand what the phrase means. And 余何循 means "how can I follow"?

In the fifth sentence I completely not understand everything after 闻..... Also in all sentences I know 商 is Shang dynasty.

Can somebody help me in this? This really show me incompetent in classical Chinese. No problem if explaining in Chinese. 先此致谢。

Update:Seems nobody wish to continue the translation, so I try to use my limited knowledge to translate it.

呜呼 is a 叹词 ,no actual meaning

夙夜 day and night

维 no meaning

密 to secret (overthrow)

显 show

和 be with(me)

So the rough meaning is :Ah! I am (trying to) secretly(overthrow) Shang dynasty day and night, I do not show this(to others),who will be with me?

Please correct me if I have done any mistake. Thanks.

2 Answers 2



this verse come from the inscription on 免尊

對 - 報答, to requite

揚 - 讚揚, to praise

王 - the king, or ruler

休 - 樹蔭 shade of a tree --> 庇蔭 to shield --> 美德 virtue

用作 - ~ use for

尊彝 - 彝 is ritual / sacrificial objects, "尊彝" together is a specialised term of ritual objects, roughly a bronze wine vessel needed two hand to hold ( a big goblet?), see the photo from the above link :)

so, the verse means roughly:

to requite (對) [and] to praise (揚) the virtue (休) of [our] king (王), we make inscription (用作) on this goblet (尊彝).

the norm in ancient china was, when an ritual object (彝器) was made, some text would be inscribed onto it, for the purpose to state the rationale of manufacturing.


this verse is from 汲塚周書 大戒解

there's a remark "兆始工官言政治維是始正其官" after "朕實不明", in which roughly "兆" means "始", "工" means "官", 言 (said) 政治 ([good] governing) 維 是 (is) 始 (at the beginning) 正 (correctly [appoint]) 其(ruler's) 官 (official).


朕 - i, a specialised pronoun for ruler / king

聞 - heard

維 - particle

時 - time

兆 - 始也, beginning

厥 - short of

工 - labour, in context, 官也, official / civil servants

非 - not

不顯 - inapparent

the context of this verse is, the 周 dynasty was just founded, there're not enough civil servants to fill the posts, in order to govern the nation.

therefore, i would interpret the verse as:

i (朕, a specialised pronoun) heard (聞) [that]: at the beginning stage (時兆), there's shortage of (厥) labour (工); [such reasoning] is not (非) inapparent (不顯)

if incorporate the context directly:

i (朕, a specialised pronoun) heard (聞) [that]: at the beginning stage (時兆) [of founding a nation], there's lack of (厥) officials (工 aka 官); [such reasoning] is not (非) inapparent (不顯)


this verse is from 逸周書﹒成開解

今 - now

商 - 商 dynasty

孽 - 餘孽, ~ rebel party

競時 - race against time, incessantly

逋播 - to flee

以 - by, through

輔 - assist, maybe alliance

余 - i / we

何 - what

循 - 遵循, follow

i would interpret this one as:

now (今), there're rebel party (孽) of previous dynasty (商), fleeing (逋播) incessantly (競時) with (以) assistance (輔); what can (何) we (余) follow (循) [in this situation]?


this verse is from 逸周書 五權解

汝 - you

慎 - cautiously

和 - harmonious, aka "river crab" in that area :(

稱 - to weigh, this one is still used in colloquial cantonese nowadays

五 - five

權 - 權術, art of politics. also has the meaning of steelyard balance (秤錘); that's why "稱" is used.

維 = 唯, only

中 - 中道, middle path

是 - this, maybe "being"

以 - 憑藉, to rely on

以 - thereby

長 - 養育, nurture

小子 - in context, my son, aka 周成王

於 - in

位 - throne

實 - if realise, subjunctive

維 - only

永 - long time

寧 - 安寧, peace

you (汝) [must] weigh (稱) the five (五) art of politics (權) cautiously (慎) and harmoniously (和)

only (維) the middle path (中), this (是) [is] reliable (以)

thereby (以), my son (小子) [could be] nurtured (長) in (於) the throne (位)

if [it's] realised (實), [there would] only (維) [be] peace (寧) for a long time (永)

that's all, i left the second one for others :)

have fun :)

  • I'm amazed again. I'd like to ask, how do you know 杨王 does not refer to 'King Yang'?
    – Pedroski
    Sep 2, 2017 at 23:08
  • king yang? impossible, even the 漢語多功能字庫 stated "對揚"一詞,是金文中的習語 humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/lexi-mf/search.php?word=揚 about how, i would say that i've some (maybe ample) experience to read and write literary chinese, that i know where to chop characters / words, then find the meanings. Sep 2, 2017 at 23:36
  • 你可以给我在这领域中推荐好书吗?
    – Pedroski
    Sep 2, 2017 at 23:55
  • @水巷孑蠻: 竞时also can means 趋时(及时) and 逋播 also can be a noun instead of verb. So cant the sentences means 商孽及时(寻求)逃亡的臣来辅助自己?And what is the relationship between the remark and your translation?Cant 厥means "his" and 兆 means "shows",so the sentence means "time shows his (ability) as a officer"?Sorry but i am just expressing my view and correct me if I am wrong.
    – lyk
    Sep 3, 2017 at 1:29
  • @水巷孑蠻: And just curious why you use the word "lah" in english,is that means"啦” or something else?
    – lyk
    Sep 3, 2017 at 2:00




<<逸周书·大开武解第二十七>> “啊呀!我日夜在想灭商之事,保密而不公开,诸侯有谁响应呢?


<<逸周书·五权解第四十六> 你要认真协调衡量五权,用得适中,以抚养太子在位,实际上就有永久的安宁。


<<逸周书·成开解第四十七> 今商纣余孽还在网罗逃亡流散之人以辅肋他们,我们当做些什么


逸周书·大戒解第五十 我听说只有正直才兆示他的官职。并非此话不明显,而我实在是不明白


http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E5%85%8D%E5%B0%8A http://study.ccln.gov.cn/fenke/wenxueyishu/wxjpwz/wxwxpl/94442.shtml http://guji.artx.cn/article/46213.html http://www.gushiwen.org/GuShiWen_777415f262.aspx http://www.gushiwen.org/GuShiWen_c38c538e05.aspx http://www.xinfajia.net/2515.html

  • Please don't just give translation of entire sentence, I need to know the grammatical structure or meaning word by word. And also your punctuation is different with me(maybe it is still debated by scholars)
    – lyk
    Sep 2, 2017 at 15:42

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