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The Feast at Hong Gate translation, Pt 2 (史記:卷七:項羽本紀:16)

This is the second part of a translation of the story 鴻門宴 (The Feast at Hong Gate) from 史記 (Records of the Grand Historian). You can view the full original text of 史記 here.

楚左尹項伯者,項羽季父也, The Assistant Minister of Chu was Xiang Bo, the fourth uncle of Xiang Yu;

素善留侯張良。 he was always on good terms with Zhang Liang, Marquis of Liu.

張良是時從沛公,項伯乃夜馳之沛公軍, At that time Zhang Liang worked for Liu Bang, and Xiang Bo rode fast by night to Liu Bang's army;

私見張良,具告以事, [Xiang Bo] met privately with Zhang Liang, and told him this matter in its entirety;

欲呼張良與俱去。 [Xiang Bo] wanted Zhang Liang to leave with him.

曰:「毋從俱死也。」 [Xiang Bo] said: "Don't follow him [Liu Bang] to your death."

張良曰:「臣為韓王送沛公, Zhang Liang said: "I was presented to Liu Bang by the King of Han;

沛公今事有急,亡去不義,不可不語。」 now Liu Bang's problems are pressing, it would be wrong to flee; I must tell you this."

良乃入,具告沛公。 Thereupon Zhang Liang went in, and told Liu Bang of this.

沛公大驚,曰:「為之奈何?」 Liu Bang was greatly alarmed, saying: "What can we do about this?"

張良曰:「誰為大王為此計者?」 Zhang Liang said: "Who thought of this plan for you, Sire?"

曰:「鯫生說我曰『距關,毋內諸侯, [Liu Bang] said: "A fool advised me, saying: 'Capture the pass, do not let the Feudal Lords enter it; 內 here is 納.

秦地可盡王也』。故聽之。」 you will rule all of the lands of Qin.' So I followed this advice."

良曰:「料大王士卒足以當項王乎?」 Zhang Liang said: "Do you estimate that your forces are sufficient to face Xiang Yu, Sire?"

沛公默然,曰:「固不如也,且為之奈何?」 Liu Bang was silent, then said: "They are certainly not good enough, so what are we to do?"

張良曰:「請往謂項伯,言沛公不敢背項王也。」 Zhang Liang said: "I request to go and speak to Xiang Bo; I will tell him that you would not dare to betray Xiang Yu."

沛公曰:「君安與項伯有故?」 Liu Bang said: "What is your connection with Xiang Bo?"

張良曰:「秦時與臣游,項伯殺人,臣活之。 Zhang Liang said: "In Qin times we were friends; Xiang Bo killed a man, but I let him live. Zhang Liang prevented Xiang Bo from being executed for committing murder.

今事有急,故幸來告良。」 Now the situation is desperate, so he came to inform me." 幸 here means ‘to visit’.

沛公曰:「孰與君少長?」 Liu Bang said: "Which of you is older?"

良曰:「長於臣。」 Zhang Liang said: "He is older than me."

沛公曰:「君為我呼入,吾得兄事之。」 Liu Bang said: "Invite him here for me; I will treat him like a brother."

張良出,要項伯。 Zhang Liang left, and went to get Xiang Bo.

項伯即入見沛公。 Xiang Bo promptly went in to see Liu Bang.

沛公奉卮酒為壽,約為婚姻,曰: Liu Bang raised a goblet of wine to longevity, and arranged a marriage, saying:

「吾入關,秋豪不敢有所近, "I have entered the pass, yet would not dare change the slightest thing;

籍吏民,封府庫,而待將軍。 I registered the people, sealed the government stores, and waited for the arrival of the generals.

所以遣將守關者,備他盜之出入與非常也。 So I dispatched soldiers to guard the pass, in order to prevent looting and other unexpected circumstances.

日夜望將軍至,豈敢反乎! We waited day and night for the arrival of the generals; how could we dare rebel?

願伯具言臣之不敢倍德也。」 I hope that you will tell your master I would not dare to betray his favour."

項伯許諾。 Xiang Bo agreed.

謂沛公曰:「旦日不可不蚤自來謝項王。」 [Xiang Bo] said to Liu Bang: "Tomorrow morning you must come early and apologise to Xiang Yu." 蚤 here is 早.

沛公曰:「諾。」 Liu Bang said: "Yes."

於是項伯復夜去,至軍中,具以沛公言報項王。 Thereupon, Xiang Bo returned by night to [Xiang Yu's] army, and reported to Xiang Yu what Liu Bang had said in detail.

因言曰:「沛公不先破關中,公豈敢入乎? Thus he said: "If Liu Bang does not first attack the pass, how could you dare to enter it, my lord?

今人有大功而擊之,不義也,不如因善遇之。」 Nowadays if someone has merit and you attack him, it is wrong, and is not as good as treating him well."

項王許諾。 Xiang Yu agreed.

← Part I”) · Part III →”)