Reading a translation of the 12th Century Japanese epic “Tale of the Heike”, about the fall of one of the great houses. Some parts are unintentionally funny. At one point, an army of militant monks is approaching the palace to demand justice for wrongs done their members. Troops are stationed at all entry gates to defend them. The North gate has a renowned military leader, but few forces, so that’s where the monks go. They stop at the gate, and the leader’s deputy comes out.
“Look,” he says (I paraphrase), “we agree with you, but the Emperor says you can’t come in. If we let you in, we fail our Lord. If you fight your way in, against such a small force, you’ll win, but you’ll be embarrassed, and everybody will be looking at the ground. Our commander has never lost a battle, and it would be embarrassing all the way around. Why don’t you go to the East gate, where they have a force worthy of your attention.”
The monks thought a bit, and some said “You know, he’s right, there’s no glory in it. And the commander is from a good family. Besides, he not only is a good commander, he writes excellent poetry. Remember that one about the cherry trees?”
So, the monks went to the East gate, where they were defeated, abandoned their petition, and went back to their mountain, crying.