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▶ During the Spring and Autumn Period (chūn qiū 春秋时期,770-476 BC), there lived in the kingdom of Chin a man named Wei Ke (wèi kē 魏颗), whose father had a young and very beautiful concubine. After his father grew old and fell ill, he told Wei Ke that after his death, his son was to marry the concubine into a suitable family. Later, when his illness had grown worse and he was in a state of delirium, he said that he wanted the girl to commit suicide and he buried with him. Wei Ke felt that he should obey what his father had said when he was fully conscious, and so he married the girl into a nice family. Later, Wei Ke was in a battle which he was about to lose, when suddenly he saw an old man come tie a knot in the grass in front of his enemy, His enemy's horse tripped over the knot, and Wei Ke won the battle. That night, Wei Ke had a dream that the old man came to him and said,"I am the father of the concubine, come to repay you for not burying my daughter with your father."

During the Han dynasty, there lived a man named Yand Bau, who was very king and sympathetic. When he was a boy, Yang Bau once came across an injured sparrow. He saved the little bird, and treated its wounds. Many years later, this little sparrow brought Yang Bau a ring of jade.

Therefore, "to knot the grass and carry a ring" means to repay someone for a kindness.
  
知恩图报、滴水之恩当涌泉相报、感恩报德,至死不忘,一直被认为是中华民族引以为傲的传统美德。成语“结草衔环”的典故不仅向我们讲述了成就这美德的两个感人至深的故事,还告诉我们“善有善报”是一亘古不变的天理。

“结草”的典故见于《左传.宣公十五年》。公元前 594年的秋七月,秦桓公出兵伐晋,晋军和秦兵在晋地辅氏(今陕西大荔县)交战,晋将魏颗与秦将杜回相遇,二人撕杀在一起,正在难分难解之际,魏颗突然见 一老人用草编的绳子套住杜回,使这位堂堂的秦国大力士站立不稳,摔倒在地,当场被魏颗所俘,使得魏颗在这次战役中大败秦师。

晋军获胜收兵后,当天夜里,魏颗在梦中见到那位白天为他结绳绊倒杜回的老人,老人说,我就是你把她嫁走而没有让她为你父亲陪葬的那女子的父亲。我今天这样做是为了报答你的大恩大德!

原来,晋国大夫魏武子有位无儿子的爱妾。魏武子刚生病的时候嘱咐儿子魏颗说:“我死之后,你一定要把她嫁出去。”不久魏武子病重,又对魏颗说:“我死之 后,一定要让她为我殉葬。”等到魏武子死后,魏颗没有把那爱妾杀死陪葬,而是把她嫁给了别人。魏颗说:“人在病重的时候,神智是昏乱不清的,我嫁此女,是 依据父亲神智清醒时的吩咐。”

“衔环”典故则见于《后汉书﹒杨震传》中的注引《续齐谐记》,杨震父亲杨宝九岁时,在华阴山北,见一黄雀被老鹰所伤,坠落在树下,为蝼蚁所困。杨宝怜之, 就将它带回家,放在巾箱中,只给它喂饲黄花,百日之后的一天,黄雀羽毛丰满,就飞走了。当夜,有一黄衣童子向杨宝拜谢说:“我是西王母的使者,君仁爱救 拯,实感成济。”并以白环四枚赠与杨宝,说:“它可保佑君的子孙位列三公,为政清廉,处世行事象这玉环一样洁白无暇。”

果如黄衣童子所言,杨宝的儿子杨震、孙子杨秉、曾孙杨赐、玄孙杨彪四代官职都官至太尉,而且都刚正不阿,为政清廉,他们的美德为后人所传诵。

后世将“结草”“衔环”合在一起,流传至今,比喻感恩报德,至死不忘。

 
【翻译】To Knot Grass and Carry a Ring.
【释义】结草:把草结成绳子,搭救恩人;衔环:嘴里衔着玉环。旧时比喻感恩报德,至死不忘。
【例句】老和尚救了受伤的小男孩,男孩长大后结草衔环,报答了老和尚。

【近义词】感恩报德、饮水思源
【反义词】以德报怨、忘恩负义
 
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