Myth of 夸父追日-Did he die as a hero or because of his ego?


Do you know some people who always plan ahead for the future and have a very positive mentality that they are never willing to trade off their dreams for slightly more time to relax? I personally find them annoying in a sense that it forces me to work hard as they do, seriously stressing me out. Perhaps I just don’t have the perseverance and ambition to accomplish “big things”. What about you? Would you want to be like them as well?

The story of 夸父追日 kuā fù zhuī rì

A long time ago in the 黃帝 Huangdi dynasty, there was a giant named 夸父kuā fù, who was the leader of the tribe 夸父族Kuā fù zú.  夸父kuā fù is as tall as a mountain and runs so fast that he can cross a river for each step he takes. No wonder he has the power to become one of the most prominent leaders in the tribe. As the leader, he aspires to serve the people and make sure they are living a healthy and happy life. One day during winter, he realises that the people considerably rely on the sun upon to provide warmth for them, which causes a huge problem as the sun does not stay hanging across the sky all the time. Hence, in order to provide warmth for the people not only in the daytime but also at night, 夸父kuā fù aspires to bring the sun down to where the people live. He proceeds to chase after the sun and eventually gets tired, despite his strength. He decides to take a break and drinks water in the river 黄河Huánghé. Yet, the water in the river 黄河Huánghé does not satisfy his thirst, so he looks for more water in the swamp 沼澤Zhǎozé. Unfortunately, on his way to the swamp 沼澤Zhǎozé, he dies out of thirst and fails to accomplish his mission. Before he loses his consciousness, he drops his walking cane to the roadside, which eerily turns into a beautiful forest.

What moral value does 夸父追日 kuā fù zhuī rì promote?

Generally, 夸父追日kuā fù zhuī rì means having a noble ambition and never giving up. You can tell that people view 夸父kuā fù as a hero for his selflessness, as he is willing to pay efforts for the greater good of others, which ultimately costs him his life. Nonetheless, this idiom always receives the comment that the death of 夸父kuā fù ought to be completely blamed upon his conceitedness as he is too naive to think that he can actually compete against the sun, or generally, nature.

Which side do you agree on? In Chinese, a hero is translated as 盖世英雄 Gàishì yīngxióng;

Also, if you want to refer to a lesson drawn from others’ mistakes, you will say 前车之鉴 Qiánchēzhījiàn. Do you think 夸父kuā fù is a 盖世英雄Gàishì yīngxióng or is his story 前车之鉴Qiánchēzhījiàn?

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