利底亞與波斯不和,國王克里索斯向阿波羅神廟請示「若我進攻,後果如何?」神諭:「將有帝國覆亡。」克里索斯下令進攻,結果全軍潰滅,帝國果真覆亡,只不過這個帝國是他自己的國家。

神諭晦澀難解嗎?耶魯大學教授卡根認為不然:前來神廟請教迷津者眾,三教九流(the grass roots)都有,等待時間漫長,廟方耳目密布,故能探知來意,祭師消息靈通,不必偏袒一方(black and white),研判可以從容(wait and see when the dust settles),故能對症下藥。克里索斯敗亡,問題不在神諭,而在對號入座(if the shoe fits, wear it)太早,沒有針對疑點繼續求證。

祭師消息靈通,但絕非不知人間疾苦(gazing down from on high),神廟也非高高在上的象牙塔(an ivory tower),它其實就是情報中心,這也是大家前來問卜(其實是套取情報)主因,只不過廟門大開廣迎四方來客,不便把話講死(in black and white),以免自打嘴巴(past comes back to haunt us),這是待客之道,也讓神諭多半靈驗,這正是神廟香火鼎盛的原因。

台灣俗語:「站高山看馬相踢」(直譯:Stand by and watch the two horses kick each other.),所仗恃者,是情報靈通。神廟屹立多年,情報向來正確,但前來問津,仍須萬分謹慎,以免有遺珠之憾(walking past $100 bills on the sidewalk)。孫子說:「故三軍之事,莫親於間,賞莫厚於間,事莫密於間」,也強調「廟算」(舉兵前比較雙方實力),就要透過間諜反覆查明情報真實性,以免利底亞覆轍。

例:"The temple shares the grass roots truth for it has been gathering information all along."「神廟平日周諮博採,所見當然入木三分。」

"The priests wait until the dust settles before people mention anything else."「不管一方說詞如何,祭師總是在水落石出後行動。」

"The issue of the conflict isn't as black and white from the lens of the priest in the temple."「廟方祭師認為,衝突不能用非黑即白兩分法論斷。」

"The priest just puts the shoe out there, the king is the one that puts it on and announced to everyone that it fits him."「祭師才拋出觀點,國王就對號入座。」

"The sober priest, gazing down from on high, renders direction critical to his state's future."「祭師道貌岸然,冷靜地指出他的國家重要的未來方向。」

"They manage to live in the real world rather than an ivory tower."「他們想方設法,努力不與群眾脫節。」

"The priests tend not to establish the oracles in black and white, avoiding past comes back to haunt them."「祭師儘量不把神諭說死,以免自打嘴巴。」

"Failure to verify your information is like walking past $100 bills lying on the sidewalk."「要查明你的情報真實性,以免產生遺珠之憾。」

(作者任教陸軍官校,本專欄每周五刊登)

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