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To go forwards or backwards is alike impracticable.

After T’ien Ch’ang had assassinated Duke Chien, he made a covenant with the people of the state, saying, "Those who do not covenant with me will be put to death with their families."

Shih T’o said, "Of old those who served a ruler died in their ruler's interests. To abandon one's ruler so as to preserve one's parents is not loyal. To abandon one's parents so as to die in the interests of one's ruler is not filial. So I cannot do it. However, if I do not covenant, it will be to kill my parents. If I do as others do and covenant, it will be repudiating my ruler. Alas! One born in disordered times cannot achieve upright conduct, and one suffering violence at the hands of a cruel man cannot behave in complete conformity with i. Too bad!" Whereupon he went up and covenanted so as to spare his father and mother, and then withdrew and threw himself on his sword to die for his ruler.

Those who heard of it said, "A superior man indeed! What could he have done? It was fate."
The Ode says,

The people have the saying:
"To go forwards or backwards is alike impracticable."

This applies to Master Shih.

田常弑简公,乃盟于国人,曰:“不盟者、死及家。”石他曰:“古之事君者、死其君之事。舍君以全亲,非忠也;舍亲以死君之事,非孝也;他则不能。然不盟,是杀吾亲也,从人而盟,是背吾君也。呜呼!生乱世,不得正行;劫乎暴人,不得全义,悲夫!”乃进盟,以免父母;退伏剑,以死其君。闻之者曰:“君子哉!安之命矣!”《诗》曰:“人亦有言;进退维谷。”石先生之谓也。

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