As per the translation, it seems like 秦楚 are doing the 朝'ing and the 中国 are doing the 莅'ing, so why do these verbs come before the noun they modify?

I am also having some trouble understanding


Would this be a correct understanding? But 以 if 若 your desires 所为求 are indeed what you wish 若所欲... (then it's like climbing a tree to find fish)

3 Answers 3



  1. The grammatical subject is hidden (Liang Hui Wang, 梁惠王). What we see are four parallel verb-object constructions that describe Mencius' guess of Liang Hui Wang's desires (王之所大欲).

    • 辟土地: 'to enlarge your territories'

    • 朝秦楚: while normally as a verb means ‘to meet in court', this is no doubt used in the causative sense (使動用法, see fourth entry here): 'to make (Qin and Chu) meet in (your) court'.

    • 莅中國: simply means 'to come'. 中國 does not mean China, it refers to the Central Kingdoms (somewhat similar to 中原).

    • 撫四夷: 'to pacify the barbarous tribes on the four boarders'.

  2. You may consult D. C. Lau (1984:21)'s translation too: 'You wish to extend your territory, to enjoy the homage of Ch'in and Ch'u, to rule over the Central Kingdoms and to bring peace to the barbarian tribes on the four boarders.'


  1. The -construction nominalises the verb that follows it. So 所為 means 'deeds' (from 'to do') and 所欲 means 'wants' (from 'to want'). means 'you'. But we see two nouns adjacent to each other in 若所為 and 若所欲. For better understanding, you may add in between, indicating possession: 以若之所為,求若之所欲.

  2. 以A求B means to seek B with A.

  3. D. C. Lau: 'Seeking the fulfilment of such an ambition by such means as you employ'


Lau DC. Mencius. Hong Kong: CUHK Press; 1984.


[]秦楚 = [上朝]接見秦國和楚國來的朝臣 = [hold royal court] receiving the officers from Qin and Chu's courts (meaning they are submissive to you)

莅中国 = []於中国 = [offically attend functions] in the middle kingdom

而[]四夷也 = and [console/ appease] the barbarian outside the borders (meaning you are the one who speaks for the middle kingdom)

以若所为求若所欲 犹缘木而求鱼也

with your action to seek things that your desire, is like climbing a tree to seek for fish (meaning what you are doing won't work)

若 here means 'your'

Meaning: [3] [pron] you; your


If you have phrases like 朝秦楚,莅中国而抚四夷也 just paste them into Baidu. Someone somewhen has already rendered them in Modern Chinese

"Thus the King that which (he) greatly desires (we) can know already,
want open (more) land,
reign Qin and Chu
administer (whole of) China and placate the four barbarian (peoples).
if such way behave if such way desire,
like up tree and want fish yeah!

  1. 以您这样的办法,来求取你想要得到的东西,好像爬到树上去捉鱼一样。 比喻方法不对,不可能达到目的

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.