Five Virtues of the Cock


While serving under the Duke Ai of Lu, T’ien Jao, resenting his obscure position, said to his master, “I am going to wander far away like a snow goose.”

“What do you mean by that?” inquired the Duke.

“Do you see the cock?” said T’ien Jao in reply. “Its crest is a symbol of civility; its powerful talons suggest its strength; its daring to fight any enemy denotes courage; its instinct to invite others whenever food arrives shows benevolence; and last but not least, its punctuality in keeping the time through the night gives an example of veracity.”

“In spite, however, of these five virtues, the cock is daily killed to fill a dish on your table. Why? The reason is that it is found within our reach.”

“On the other hand, the snow goose traverses in one flight a thousand li. resting in your garden, it preys on your fishes and turtles and pecks your millet. Though devoid of the cock’s five virtues, yet you prize this bird for the sake of its scarcity. This being so, I shall fly far like a snow goose.”

 

Ancient Chinese Parables, Yu Hsiu Sen, ED., 1974

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