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King Wên dealt with an evil omen

Of old, in the time of King Wên of Chou, when he had ruled the country for eight years, in summer, the sixth month, he took to his bed with illness. After five days there was an earthquake, which, to the east, west, south, and north, did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital. The functionaries all said, "We have heard that earthquakes occur because of the ruler. Now Your Majesty has been sick in bed for five days, and there has been an earthquake that did not extend beyond the outskirts of the capital in any direction. Your subjects are all frightened and we request that it may be averted."
King Wên said, "How are we going to avert it?"

They replied, "Undertake a public work and put the masses in motion so as to add to the city's walls: perhaps we can thereby avert it."

King Wên said, "It will not do. The Way of Heaven, in causing an evil omen to appear, is thereby to punish the guilty. I must be guilty, and hence this is to punish me. Now to go out of my way to undertake a public work and to put the masses in motion so as to add to the city's walls, would be to double my guilt. It cannot be done. I wish to reform my conduct and multiply good acts to avert it; I believe it can be avoided."

Thereupon he took pains with li and rules of precedence, and with gifts of furs made friends with the feudal lords. He made his speech elegant and presented capable officers with gifts of silk. He apportioned titles and rank; he measured out fields to confer on those who were deserving. Not long after he and his ministers had put these into practice, his illness was cured. King Wên had been on the throne for eight years when the earthquake occurred. After the earthquake he ruled for forty-three years longer; altogether he governed the country for fifty-one years before his death.

This was how King Wên dealt with an evil omen. The Ode says,

Revere the majesty of Heaven
Thus to preserve its favor.



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