Cicada in Chinese Literature
The wolf has a winning game when the shepherds quarrel. The mantis stalking the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind.
The literary root of the Chinese proverb “螳螂捕蝉，黄雀在后” (lit.‘The mantis stalking the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind’) is Zhuangzi, an ancient Chinese text from the late Warring States period (476–221 BC) which contains stories and anecdotes that exemplify the carefree nature of the ideal Daoist sage. The proverb is still widely used by today’s Chinese people to warn others of the hazard of recklessness and greed. Like the many philosophical pieces of all of the 33 surviving Zhuangzi chapters containing fables and allegories, the story about a mantis stalking a cicada also manifests the author’s resentment of greed and his belief that the key to true happiness is to free oneself from the world and its standards through the principle of "inaction" (wúwéi 无为 ) - action that is not based on any purposeful striving or motives for gain.