During the Han Dynasty, in the southwest there was a small country called Yelang, and although it was an independent nation, its territory was small, there weren’t many citizens, and its products were pitifully few. Because it was the largest kingdom in the near area, the Yelang king who’d never left his own country thought the country he ruled was the biggest on earth.
One day, the king of Yelang was on a national border inspection tour with his troops, when he pointed in front of him [to neighboring country] and said, “Which country is bigger?” In order to serve their own interests and make the king happy, the troops said, “Of course Yelang is bigger!” They walked along, and the king once again lifted up his head, gazed at the big mountain in the distance and asked: “Is there a taller mountain than this anywhere on earth?” And his men answered: “No, there’s no mountain taller than this one on earth.” After a while, they reached the river side, and the king asked again: “I think this is the world’s longest river.” And all his men said in unison “The king speaks truly.” After this, the ignorant king believed even more firmly that Yelang was the world’s biggest country.
Then one day, the Han Dynasty dispatched an envoy to Yelang, and en route they encountered the neighboring kingdom DianGuo, and the King of Dian asked the emissary: “If you compared the Han Dynasty and my Kingdom, which one would be bigger?” The emissary listened in astonishment, as he’d never have thought this small a country thought it could compare itself to the Han Dynasty. But he really never could have suspected that when he got to Yelang, the prideful and ignorant king who didn’t know that the kingdom he ruled was about the size of one Han county, would ask with an exaggerated opinion of his own worth, “Which is bigger: the Han Dynasty or my country?”