February 22, 2012

During the Chinese spring and autumn periods there was a high official named Meng Wu Bo who always went back on his word and this annoyed the king of Lu very much.

One day, the king gave a royal banquet to his ministers and Meng Wu Bo was invited. Guo Chong, a favorite of the king, happened to sit next to him. Being jealous of Guo Chong, Meng Wu Bo never missed any chance to pour ridicule on him. This time, he intended to make fun of the overweight Guo Chona, the King’s favourite.

So Meng Wu Bo stood up with a cup of wine in one hand and made a toasting to his political opponent, saying loudly, "Sir, what do you eat that makes you so fat?"

Embarrassed by the insulting question, Guo Chong was momentarily at a loss for words. The king, seeing this, was very angry. He had been looking for an opportunity to teach Meng Wu Bo a lesson about being false to his word. Thus the king said in an even louder voice: "He always eats his own words. How can he not get fat?" The guests all burst out laughing, as they all knew the king was mocking the ugly habit of Meng Wu Bo.

This story is from Zuo Zhuan (左传, sometimes translated as the Chronicle of Zuo or the Commentary of Zuo), the earliest Chinese work of narrative history and covers the period from 722 B.C. to 468 B.C.

The saying of "Getting Fat By Eating Your Own Words" is now used to satirize someone who often fails to keep his promise.

February 22, 2012

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