Zhuangzi glossary



Lord Wenhui

Commentators identify Lord Wenhui as King Hui of Liang, also known as the King of Wei, with whom Mencius converses in Mengzi 1A1-5.  It is possible that here and elsewhere Zhuangzi is intentionally parodying stories found in the Mengzi.  In Mengzi 1A7, Mencius demonstrates that King Xuan of Qi is capable of compassion by reminding him of an incident in which he spared an ox from sacrifice because he could not bear to see its innocent suffering.  This passage may be poking fun at that story, with a cook lecturing the ruler on how to butcher oxen most effectively.  Similarly, the setting of the story in Mencius, in which King Xuan sits up in his hall while the ox is led by down below, is reflected in the story of Wheelright Pien, who chisels wheels in the courtyard while Duke Huan of Qi sits in the hall above (13.09).  Interestingly, King Xuan open up his dialogue with Mencius by asking about Duke Huan, who Mencius refuses to discuss on account of his immorality.  If indeed these stories are parodies, Zhuangzi's substitution of King Hui for King Xuan may serve some other purpose or may be evidence that he had only hearsay familiarity with the stories in the Mengzi.  Alternately, these stories might be examples of a genre on which both Zhuangzi and Mencius drew but which is otherwise lost to us.

Lord Wenhui later became the King Wei who employed Hui Shi (17.12) and gave him the seeds to the gourds in 1.06. Since he is referred to as Lord, not King, here, this episode is presumably supposed to take place before his self-promotion. It is possible that all the stories about King Wei, and possibly even other similar ones, are intended to instruct Hui Shi on how to deal with his boss.