During the latter stage of the Warring States period, in 260 BC, in Chang Ping Battle, state Qin army under the command of Bai Qi won a decisive victory over state Zhao army, which made Zhao lost nearly 400,000 soldiers. The following year, Qin army attacked Han Dan, the capital of Zhao.
Due to lack of soldiers, the king of Zhao had to send his younger brother, Prince Ping Yuan, to seek assistance from State Chu. The Prince decided to pick twenty men who were both talented in literature and good at Kung Fu from his retainers. But he could only find 19 such men. A retainer named Mao Sui, hearing of this, walked to Prince Ping Yuan and said, "My lord, I heard you need to find 20 attendants to go to Chu with you. Now only one less, I offer myself to this task."
Prince Ping Yuan asked: "How long have you been with me?"
" Three years," Mao Sui answered.
Prince Ping Yuan said, "A talent is like an awl in a bag. Its point soon pierces through the bag. You have been here with me for three years but yet nobody has mentioned you to me, and I haven't heard of anything about you. I think this is because you are not a man of ability. You had better stay behind!"
Mao Sui replied, "My lord, today, I am here just to ask you to put me into your bag. If you have had done it, the whole awl, not only its point, would have pierced through. "
Prince Ping Yuan was convinced and accepted his request.
Being interrupted suddenly, the king of Chu got angry. He asked Prince Ping Yuan: "Who is this man?"
"This is my attendant." Prince Ping Yuan replied:
The king yelled at Mao Sui: "I am talking with your master. How dare you, a servant, interrupt us?"
Seeing the king was furious, Mao Sui, instead of standing back, walked even closer to him. With one hand on the sword, Mao Sui said to the king:" Your Majesty, the reason you have the courage to yell at me is simply because you are the king with many bodyguards. But now you and I are so close that no one can protect you from me. Your Majesty, your life is in my hands."
The king was scared and had to listened to Mao Sui quietly.
Mao Sui continued:" Tang Wu (the founder of Shang Dynasty) and King Wen (the father of the founder of Zhou Dynasty) both started with small states, but they ended up building their own Dynasty. Now your state, Chu, is a strong state with more than a million of warriors and a vast expanse of cultivated land. By these you can dominate the world. But your army was shamefully defeated by Bai Qi, a nobody (in fact, Bai Qi was the most capable and famous general of Qin); and your capital was occupied and burned by Qin's soldiers. The humiliations that Qin caused to you and your ancestors are so huge even we, people from Zhao, fell ashamed of you, but you are so insensible to these. Now we are here to offer an alliance with Chu against Qin. It is for Chu rather than for Zhao, but you are so tardy in stating your position. What right do you have to yell at me in front of my master?"
Mao Sui's words made the king very embarrassed but in the mean time aroused the fight within him. So he, Prince Ping Yuan and Mao Sui licked the blood of animal and swear to fight together against Qin. Three months later, the allied forces of Zhao and Chu defeated Qin's army and saved Han Dan.
Background and Writer Comment:
Now the idiom of Mao Sui recommended Himself--Mao Sui Zi Jian is used to describe someone who, like mao sui, offers himself/herself to a job or task.
毛遂自荐的英文是 Mao Sui recommended Himself, 拼音是 máo suì zì jiàn.
长平打败使得赵国兵力极其缺乏，大敌当前，形势危急万分。赵王令自己的兄弟平原君赵胜去楚国求兵解围。平原君把门客召集起来，挑选20个文武全才一起去。 经过挑选，最后还缺一个人。门下有一个叫毛遂的人走上前来，向平原君自我推荐说：“听说先生将要到楚国去签订‘合纵’盟约，约定与门客二十人一同前往，而 且不到外边去寻找。现在还少一个人，希望先生就以毛遂凑足人数出发吧！”
毛遂继续说：“我听说汤以七十里的地方统一天下，文王以百里的土地使诸侯称臣，难道是由于他们的士卒众多吗？实在是由于他们能够凭据他们的条件而奋发他们 的威势。今天，楚国土地方圆五千里，持戟的土卒上百万，这是霸王的资业呀！以楚国的强大，天下不能抵挡。白起，不过是一个无名之辈罢了，率领几万部众，发 兵来和楚国交战，一战而拿下鄢、郢，二战而烧掉夷陵，三战而侮辱大王的祖先。这是百代的仇恨，而且是赵国都感到羞辱的事，而大王却不知道羞耻。‘合纵’ 这件事是为了楚国，并不是为了赵国呀。我的君主在眼前，你斥责我干什么？”