An attempt at translating SGZ02

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An attempt at translating SGZ02

Unread postby Fornadan » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:08 pm

This is the start of my attempt at translating Chapter 02 of the Sanguo zhi, the Annals of Emperor Wen of Wei. A few things to note: First of all I'm a total novice in Classical Chinese, so no doubt I have made lots of errors. Especially the orders and decrees are difficult to make sense of. Secondly, I'm not, for now at least, translating Pei Songzhi's commentary, the main reason being the sheer length of it. So this will be a translation of Chen Shou only. Lastly the annal of a reigning emperor as codified by Sima Qian Ban Gu is essentially a court chronicle, so it is heavy on dates, omens, court appointments, decrees and other official buisness, and light on stirring narrative.

Book of Wei, Chapter 02

Annals of Emperor Wen

The Cultured [wén] August Emperor, taboo name Pi,[N1] courtesy name Zihuan, was the Heir-Apparent and son of Emperor Wu. In the 4th Year of Zhongping [188 AD], Winter, he was born in Qiao. In the 16th Year of Jian'an [211 AD], he became Commander of the Palace Gentlemen of the Five Officials [N2] and Assistant to the Imperial Chancellor. [N3] In the 22nd Year [of Jian'an, 217 AD], he was established Heir-Apparent to Wei. When Taizu[N4] collapsed [on 15 March 220 AD][N5], he inherited the rank of Imperial Chancellor and King of Wei. He honoured the Queen[N6] as Queen Dowager [N7], and changed the 25th Year of Jian'an to be the 1st Year of Yankang [“Perpetual Happiness”].[N8]

[N1]: A ruler's personal name was taboo and the character avoided by his subjects. Historians from later dynasties were not bound by this restriction, but tended to honour them anyway. For the rest of the chapter, Cao Pi is called first "the King" and then "the Emperor"
[N2]: 五官中郎將 wǔguān zhōng láng jiāng
[N3]: 副丞相 fù chéngxiàng
[N4]: Temple name of Cao Cao. He is also referred to by his posthumous titles, King Wu, later Emperor Wu.
[N5]: There were distinct rules for which word to use for a person's death depending on his rank. 崩 bēng, the verb used for the death of an emperor, has the basic meaning of a mountain collapse or cave in.
[N6]: 王后 wánghòu
[N7]: 王太后 wáng tàihòu
[N8]: Changing the reign title was the Emperor's prejogative. Emperor Xian had last changed it, to Jian'an, in 196 after his escape from Chang'an, and Cao Cao never had a new one proclaimed. Maybe to avoid the embarrasment of the other warlords not accepting the change?

In the 1st Year [of Yankang, 220AD], the 2nd Month, on renxu [6 April], used the Great Palace Grandee, [N9] Jia Xu [N10], as Grand Commandant [N11], the Secretary Grandee [N12], Hua Xin[N13], as Chancellor of State[N14], and the Great Judge[N15], Wang Lang[N16], as Secretary Grandee. Set up Cavaliers in Regular Attendance[N17] and Gentlemen-Attendants[N18], four people each. His eunuchs who were officials were not to obtain promotion beyond Prefect of the various Offices [署 shǔ]. There was a metal document compiling the order, stored in the Stone House.

[N9]大中大夫 dàzhōng dàfū
[N10] Jia Xu's biography is in SGZ10:
[N11] 太尉 tài wèi
[N12] 御史大夫 yùshǐ dàfū
[N13] Hua Xin's biography is in SGZ 13 (no translation)
[N14] 相國 xiāng guó
[N15] 大理 dà lǐ
[N16] Wang Lang's biography is also in SGZ 13 (also no translation)
[N17] 散騎常侍 sànqí chángshì
[N18] 侍郎 shìláng

Earlier, in Han's 5th Year of Xiping [176 AD], a yellow dragon was seen in Qiao. The Brilliantly Blessed Grandee[N19] Qiao Xuan asked the Prefect Grand Scribe[N20], Dan Yang: “Is this a good omen?” Yang said: “Its state later shall have a ruler prospering. Before 50 years, it shall be seen again. Heavenly affairs are regular phenomena, this is as it should be.” Yin Deng of Neihuang [in Wei commandery] was silent [?] and recorded it. 45 years later [I.e in 220 AD, by inclusive counting], Deng was still alive. [?] In the 3rd Month, a yellow dragon was seen in Qiao. When Deng heard of it, he said: “The words of Dan Yang, they have now been verified!”

[N19]: 光祿大夫 guānglù dàfū
[N20]: 太史令 tàishǐ lìng. His responsibility was to record and interpret omens.

On jimao [23 April], used the General of the Van [N21], Xiahou Dun[N22], as Great General [N23]. The Huimo [N24], the Chanyu of Fuyu [N25], Yanqi[N26], the King of Yutian[N27], each and all dispatched envoys to offer presents.

[N21]: 前將軍 qián jiāngjūn
[N22]: Xiahou Dun's biography is in SGZ09:
[N23]: 大將軍 dà jiàngjūn
[N24]: A north-eastern people
[N25]: A north-eastern state
[N26]: A state in the western regions. Modern Karashar
[N27]: A state in the western regions, also known as Khotan

In Summer, the 4th Month, on dingsi [31 May], in Raoan county [in Bohai] they say a white pheasant was seen. On gengwu [13 June], the Great General, Xiahou Dun, passed away.

In the 5th Month, on the day wuyin [21 June], the Son of Heaven [i.e. the Han empeor] instructed the King to posthumously honour the August Grandfather, the Grand Commandant, [i.e. Cao Song] as the Grand King [N28] and the Lady Ms. Ding as the Grand Queen [N29], and enfeoffed the King's son Rui as Marquis of Martial Virtue.

[N28]: 太王 tài wáng
[N29]: 太王后 tài wánghòu

This month, mountain thieves of Fengyi, Zheng Gan and Wang Zhao, led the masses in surrender. Both were enfeoffed among the feudal lords. Huang Hua of Jiuquan, Zhang Jin of Zhangye, and others each seized the Grand Administrators [N30] to accordingly rebel. The Grand Administrator of Jincheng, Su Ze [N31], punished Jin and beheaded him. Hua surrendered.

[N30]: 太守 tàishǒu
[N31]: Su Ze's biography is in SGZ 16. (No translation)

In the 6th Month, on xinhai [24 July], put the troops in order in the eastern suburbs. On gengwu [12 August], followed with a southern expedition.

In Autumn, the 7th Month, on gengchen [22 August], an order said: “Xuanyuan [N32] had the discussions of the Bright Platform. [??] Fangxun [N33] had the enquiries of the Crossroad House. Both by these means broadly inquired into the below. [N34] The hundred officials have directed, their exertions according to their duties exhaustively regulating remonstrances, the generals leading and exhibiting the army regulations, the court scholars clarifying the standards and measurements, the shepherds protecting and reporting government affairs, the gentry [N35] examining the six arts. I want to combinedly inspect them.” [??]

[N32]: Another name for the Yellow Emperor, lit. “Carriage axle”
[N33]: Another name for Emperor Yao
[N34]: I.e what was going on in their realms. These two precedents appear to be drawn from the Guanzi. ... uanzi.html
[N35]: Lit. “red silk girdle”

Sun Quan[N36] dispatched envoys to offer presents. Shu's general Meng Da led the masses in surrender. The King of the Di of Wudu, Yang Pu, led his tribe in adhering to the interior, residing in Hanyang commandery. On jiawu [5 September], the army lodged in Qiao. A great banquet for the Six Armies and the elders of the hundred families of Qiao to the east of the town.

[N36]: Sun Quan's biography is in SGZ Wu 2: ... unquan.htm

In the 8th month, in Shiyi county [in Changshan] they say phoenixes assembled.

In Winter, the [10]th Month, on guimao [13 November][N37], an order said: “When the various generals conquers and subjugates, soldiers who die and perish are not gathered and collected. I greatly mourn them. Their reporting commanderies and states to give coffins for storing for funeral collections, sending and delivering [them] to their homes, officials to be furnishing worship.” On bingwu [16 November], moved to arrive at Quli.

[N37]: The text actually has the 11th Month, but this is an obvious error.

The Han Emperor due to the masses' hopes being with Wei consequently summoned the multitude of excellencies, nobles and scholars, and reported and sacrificed to the Exalted Temple. He sent the Acting Secretary Grandee Zhang Yin, Holding the Tally [N38], to offer the imperial signet and seal to abdicate the throne. The tablet said: “Discuss this with the King of Wei: In antiquity Emperor Yao abdicated the throne to Shun of Yu. Shun likewise accordingly instructed Yu. Heaven's instructions are not everlasting [N39], but reverts to [those?] having virtue. The Way of the Han is in decline, the generations have lost their order, descending to reach Our body, greatly confusing this dim-wit [??], a multitude of fiends indulge in rebellion. Inside, the house is upside down. [We] relied on King Wu's martial spirit, who aided in these difficulties in the four quarters, pondered the clarifying of the region of the Xia [i.e. China][??], accordingly protecting and soothing Our ancestral temple. How will I, the single person, obtain the government, so that the Nine Clothes truly accept its favours? [??] Now the King respectfully inherited the former thread [i.e. his ancestors' profession], brilliant in his virtue, restoring the great profession of the civil and martial, bright is your experience's vast flame. [??] The August Ling surrendered to omens, people and spirits announced and summoned, giving birth only to the bright collection, the regiments bestow Our instructions. [??] All say you to consider overcoming uniting in Shun of Yu, employing and leading my canons of Tang[N40], respectfully yielding to you the throne. [??] Oh! Heaven's complete fortune is in your body [N41], consent to hold its midst, Heaven's blessing to the eternal end. [??] Your Lordship respect and obey the great rites, host now the ten thousand states, to accordingly reverently inherit Heaven's instructions. [??]”

[N38]: 持節 chí jié. This honour conferred executive authority.
[N39]: Quoting from the Announcement to Kang, the Book of Documents
[N40]: Tang was the home state of Emperor Yao
[N41]: Quoting from Shun's abdication speech in the Counsels of the Great Yu, the Book of Documents.

Thereupon had an altar built in Fanyang[N42]. On gengwu [10 December][N43], the King mounted the altar and assumed the eastern steps [i.e. the imperial throne]. The hundred officials accompanied the throne. The affair concluded, he descended the altar, observed the beacon, completed the rites and returned. He changed Yankang to be Huangchu [“Yellow Beginnings”][N44]. A great amnesty.

[N42]: A village in Yingchuan commandery's Yingyin county.
[N43]: Some sources dates it to the next day, 11 December. Fang, p. 38
[N44]: Obviously name of the new reign title was linked to the yellow dragon omen reported under the 3rd Month above.

In the 1st Year of Huangchu, the 11th Month, on guiyou [13 December], used Henei's Shanyang with a district of ten thousand households to offer the Han Emperor as the Duchy of Shanyang [N45], [with the privileges of] following the Han calendar, to use the rites of the Son of Heaven for the suburban sacrifices, in letters to the authorities not to call himself subject, when the capital city have affairs at the grand temple to send him the meat. Enfeoffed the Duke's four sons to be among the feudal lords.

[N45]: The Duchy of Shanyang went on to outlast the state of Wei, the last Duke was killed in the summer of 307 during the breakdown of the Western Jin.

Posthumously honoured the August Grandfather, the Grand King, as the Grand August Emperor, the late Martial King as the Martial August Emperor. Honoured the Queen Dowager as August Empress Dowager. Bestowed on the males of the population one grade, on father's heirs, the filial and brotherly, and those able in farming, two grades. Used Han's various marquises and kings as Marquises who Venerate Virtue, the feudal lords as Marquises Within the Passes. Used Yingyin's Fanyang village to be Fanchang county. Fiefs and ranks were increased in position each according to merit. In the commanderies, states, counties, and towns there were many changes and alterations. Furthermore conferred on the Chanyu of the Southern Xiongnu, Huchuquan, the Wei imperial signet and ribbon. Bestowed green covered chariot, riding cart, precious sword and jade disk.

In the 12th Month, started to build the Luoyang palaces. On wuwu [27 January 221 AD], favoured [i.e went to] Luoyang.

In this year the Colonel of the Chang River [Regiment], Dai Ling, remonstrated and did not act properly several times when shooting and hunting. [??] The Emperor was greatly angered. For the mortal crime Ling was demoted one rank.

Translations from the Book of Jin:
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