Yen Did Not Die in Reaction to the King's Death

(A historical event around 593 B.C.)

Tzuoo’s Interpretation of Spring-Fall

    After Official T'ang died, Official Ts'ui saw that his widow Chiang was beautiful, so he married her. Later, Ts'ui discovered King Chuang and his wife committed adultery, so he killed the king. The official historian then wrote, "Ts'ui murdered his king." Ts'ui killed the historian and let his brother assume the position. However, he wrote the same offensive statement. Ts’ui again killed the historian and let the only surviving brother be the historian. He also wrote that Ts'ui murdered his king. Ts'ui let him live.

    Prime Minister Yen stood outside the door of Official Ts'ui's mansion. Ts'ui's servants asked Yen if he came to die for the king. Yen replied, "If King Chuang is my king and not others', I will die for him." The servants asked, "Will you go into exile?" Yen said, "If I am guilty of murdering the king, I will." Ts'ui's servants then asked, "Then do you want to return home?" Yen answered, "The king died. Where could I return? A king is not the one who bullies people. He is in charge of the great plan for our country. An official is not one who only receives salary. His duty is to assist in governing the country. Therefore, if a king dies for his country, his officials should die for him. If a king goes into exile for his country, his officials should follow him into exile. If a king dies because of his personal problems, who, except his favored officials, would run the gauntlet of disaster for him? Furthermore, someone was cruel enough to murder his king. I did not have anything to do with the murder. Why should I die or go into exile in reaction to the king’s death? Must I leave here?"

    Ts'ui servants then opened the door and let Yen in. Yen held the king's corpse in his lap and sat crying for quite a while. When he rose to leave, he had to jump three times because his legs were asleep. People said that Ts'ui would surely kill Yen. Ts'ui said, "People respect Yen. It helps me gain people’s support if I let him live."