Bo Le Appraises the Horse (NT$5): Bo Le is the name of a constellation in charge of the heavenly stable. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC), there was a man named Sun Yang that many called Bo Le because he was expert in the ways of horses. There is a legend about his search for a good horse. One day, he saw a horse struggling to pull a salt cart up a steep slope. When he approached, the horse suddenly neighed loudly. From the horse’s cry, Bo Le knew that this was the horse he was looking for, so he purchased it. After being properly cared for, the horse did indeed become a great war horse. Later, people began to call anyone who was good at scouting talent Bo Le.
- The Ambition of a Swan (NT$5): The Records of the Grand Historian devoted a chapter to a man named Chen She. Chen was poor when he was young and once worked as a farmhand. One day, he woefully said to his coworkers: “Let’s not forget about each other when one of us strikes it rich one day”. The others laughed and said, “You are just a hired farmhand, you will never strike it rich”. Sighing, Chen said “How can a sparrow know the ambition of a swan?” The idiom compares ordinary people to sparrows, who are incapable of understanding the aspirations of a hero. Later, the idiom came to be used to describe great ambition.
- Adept with Both the Pen and the Sword (NT$5): In Chapter 93 of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a man beats Kong Ming at his own game. Surprised, Kong Ming inquires about him: “Who is that? How did he see through my trick? “He then was told: “His name is Jiang Wei who is very devoted to his mother. He is adept with both the pen and the sword. What’s more, he is intelligent and brave. He is a truly outstanding fellow”. The idiom “adept with both the pen and the sword” is now used to encourage people to pay attention to their work and their extracurricular skills.
- Tiny Blade of Grass and Spring Sun (NT$5): “The Song of the Wandering Son”, a poem by Tang dynasty poet Meng Jiao, reads as follows: “The thread in the hand of a loving mother goes into the clothes for her wandering son. She makes the stitches tight before he leaves, worrying it might be a while before he returns. How can tiny blades of grass repay the sun, however much they appreciate its warmth?” The idiom describes how children receive so much from their parents that it is hard to expect them to repay it in kind.