Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

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Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Kongde » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:11 pm

Greetings all, I was reading the Shishuo Xinyu when I decided that Wades-Giles is simply not for me, and in fact, many of us. A lot of us were raised on Pinyin, and so reading the names and places in Wades-Giles can be quite cumbersome and tedious if you don't know it from the start. In order to make this reading experience more fluent, I've tasked myself with transcribing the Shishuo Xinyu from Wades-Giles to Pinyin. Also, the numbers in parenthesis coordinate with the numbers in each spoiler. I highly recommend reading the contents of the spoilers, you will miss out on quite a lot if you decide to skip it. Hopefully, this can be enjoyed by many. I would also like to note that this is a work in progress, far, far from being complete. I will continue to post over time until it is complete!

As a precursor to this, I'd like to say what the Shishuo Xinyu is and how you should take it when reading it for those who are unfamiliar. It should not be taken to heart, and everything said should be taken loosely, with a grain of salt. This isn't to say everything in the source is completely fabricated - many of the things within actually contain some degree of truths within, but often exaggerated or built upon for "stories" sake - as this was not meant to be a history book, so please do not take it at face value as so. Many of these stories are wives tales/rumors that were popular of the time. You can, however, get a great feel for how the culture was of the time and what was looked up to as right and what was not. It is up to you to decide what you feel is truth and what is not.

Finally, all due credit goes to Robert B. Mather for translations. I do not claim ownership of this content, all ownership belongs to Liu Yi-Qing for writing the book and Liu Jun for commentary notes, and Robert B. Mather for translating it into Wade-Giles. I am simply converting the already translated text to Pinyin. If it is requested by me to take it down by the Publisher or Robert B. Mather's estate, I will oblige to do so.

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Virtuous Conduct
Chapter 2 - Speech and Conversation (In Progress)


Chapter 1 - Virtuous Conduct

1. Chen Fan's (1) words became a rule for gentlemen and his acts a model for the world. Whenever he mounted his carriage and grasped the reins, it was with a determination to purify the whole realm. When he became grand warden of Yü-chang (Kiangsi), the moment he arrived he immediately inquired where Xu Zhi (2) was living, wishing to see him first of all. His superintendent of records reported, "The members of your staff would like you first to enter the commandery office, sir."

Chen replied, "King Wu (1122-1116 B.c.) bowed in his carriage before Shang Rong's (3) village gate, and had no leisure to keep the seat in his office warm. What is improper in my paying respects to a worthy man?" (HHS 83.4b; TPYL 474)


[1] JNHHC: Chen Fan had a house whose courtyard was overgrown and littered and which he never swept out. He explained, "When a great man serves in the government he should sweep the whole realm clean." (Cf. HHS 96.1a.)

In the biography of Deng Ai (SKWei 28, 16b-17a) the statement, "His words and writings were a model for the world and his acts a rule for gentlemen," is ascribed to Chen Shi's (sic) gravestone in Ying-chuan (Henan). Ai himself for a time took the personal name Fan (Model) and the courtesy name Shi-ze (Rule for Gentlemen), but later changed them to avoid confusion with another member of his clan with the same name. The passage "mounted his carriage... to purify the whole realm" was originally applied to Fan Pang (137-169); see HHS 97.16b.

[2] HCHHS: Xu Zhi's purity and loftiness transcended the world and abrogated all custom. Many times he was summoned to office by various nobles, but even though he would never accept a post, whenever the summoner died he would travel 10,000 li to express his condolences. Once (on the occasion of Huang Jiong's death in 164) he prepared a roast chicken, took silk and steeped it in wine, dried it in the sun and wrapped the chicken in it, went directly to a spot outside the crowd who had come for the burial, steeped the silk in water, took a tou-measure of cooked rice and some white rushes for a mat, and placed the chicken before it. After pouring a libation, he left his card and immediately departed without seeing the host.

YHHC: While Chen Fan was in Yü-chang, he kept a couch (t'a) for the sole use of Xu Zhi, and each time after the latter had left he would hang it up. Thus was Zhi treated with deference.

[3] For Shang Rong see SC 3.11b. Liu Qun's commentary cites Xu Shen, author of the SW: "Shang Rong was a worthy man of the Yin era (trad. 1766-1122 B.C.) who was the teacher of Lao-zi." The same statement may be found in Gao Yu's second cent. A.D. commentary at LSCC 15.3a.

2. Zhou Cheng frequently said, "If for two or three months I do not see Huang Xian, then a mean and stingy mind has already sprung up again within me." (1) (HHS 83.4b)


[1] TL: Some of Huang Xian's contemporaries said that Yan Hui (Confucious' favorite disciple) had been reborn. But his family emerged out of obscurity; his father was a cow-doctor.
Xun Shu grasped Huang Xian's hand and said, "Sir, you are my teacher and model." Later, he saw Yuan Lang and said, "In your state there is a Yan Hui. Did you know it?"

Lang replied, "Have you by any chance been visiting our Huang Xian?"

Dai Liang in his youth was condescending toward Huang Xian, but after he had seen him he lowered his opinion of himself and appeared disheartened, as though he had lost something. His mother asked, "Why are you unhappy? Have you come again from that son of a cow-doctor?"

Liang replied, "'I looked up at him in front of me and suddenly he was behind me' ("Analects" IX, 11). He's the one who should be called my teacher."

3. When Guo Tai (1) arrived in Ru-nan (Henan) and went to pay his respects to Yuan Lang (2), his carriage hardly stopped in its tracks, nor did the bells cease ringing on the harness. But when he went to visit Huang Xian he spent a full day and two nights. When someone asked his reason, Tai replied, "Huang Xian is vast and deep, like a reservoir of ten thousand qing; clarify him and he grows no purer, stir him and he grows no muddier. His capacity is profound and wide and difficult to fathom or measure." (3) (HHS 83.4b; TPKC 169; SWLC, pieh 27)


[1] HSHS: As soon as Li Ying had seen Guo Tai he praised him, saying, "I've seen gentlemen aplenty, but never any like Tai."

When Guo Tai died, Cai Yong wrote his epitaph with the remark, "I never write an inscription for anyone without a feeling of embarrassment. It's only in the case of Guo Tai that I can compose a euology for his epitaph without shame." (HHS 98.2b)

Earlier, when he had been recommended as Gentleman with Principles (Yu-dao Jun-zi), Tai said, "I have observed heavenly signs and human affairs. 'What Heaven has abandoned' cannot be propped up." (Zuo-zhuan, Xiang 23.7) Whereupon he declined, claiming illness.

[2] The Yuan Hong (Xia-fu) of the text is an error.

[3] Guo Tai PC: When Xue Gong-zu asked, Tai replied, "Yuan Lang's capacity is like overflowing waves; though they are pure, it is still easy to draw from them. Huang Xian is vast and deep, etc."

4. Li Ying's manner and style were outstanding and proper, and he maintained a haughty dignity. He wished to take on himself the responsibility for the Moral Teaching (ming-jiao) and right and wrong for the whole realm. Among the gentlemen who later progressed in office, if any succeeded in "ascending to his hall," (1) they all felt they had climbed through the Dragon Gate (Long-men) (2).


[1] "Analects" XI, 15.

[2] A famous rapids on the Yellow River near the border of Shansi and Shensi.
SCC: Long-men, the Dragon Gate, is also called He-jing, the River Ford. It is 900 li east of Chang-an. The waters plunge down an infinite distance, so that turtles and fish and the like cannot ascend it. If any do ascend, they are forthwith transformed into dragons.


5. Li Ying once praised Xun Shu (1) and Zhong Hao (2), saying, "Master Xun in his pure understanding would be hard to surpass, while Master Zhong in his supreme virtue may be taken as a teacher." (3) (HHS 92.12b)

[1] HHHC: The clerks who wielded the tablets, erasing knives, and styluses in Xun Shu's office, whom he had selected from among leather-and-wool-clad herdsmen, were all heroic and outstanding men.

[2] HHHC: Zhong Hao's lofty style was continued for generations... Though deficient in "man-made status," he had enough and to spare of "heaven-bestowed nobility." (Mencius VI.16; Legge II, 418-419)

[3] HNHHC: Of the former generation in Ying-chuan (Henan), the ones who were taken as teachers by all within the Four Seas were Chen Shi, Xun Shu, and Zhong Hao. Li Ying honored these three gentlemen and used to say, "Master Xun in his pure understanding, etc., Chen and Zhong in their supreme virtue, etc."

6. Chen Shi once went to visit Xun Shu. As he was poor and frugal and had no servants or attendants, he had his eldest son, Ji, lead the carriage, and his second son, Chen, follow along behind with a staff in his hand. His grandson, Qun, who was still tiny, had rode inside the carriage.

After they arrived, Xun Shu had his third son, Jing, receive them at the gate, and his sixth son, Shuang, serve the wine. The other six "dragons" (1) he had wait on the table. His grandson, Yu, who was also tiny, he had sit before his knees.

At the time the grand astrologer reported to the Throne, "A Realized Man (zhen-ren) (2) is traveling eastward." (3) (PSLT 6; TPYL 849; SWLC, hou 3, pieh 27)


[1] CFHC: Xun Shu had eight sons: Jian, Gun, Jing, Dao, Wang, Shuang, Su, and Fu. While Shu was living in the village of Xi-hao (Henan), the prefectural magistrate, Yuan Kang said, "In antiquity the Lord of Gao-yang (Zhuan Xu, trad. 2513-2435 B.C.) had eight talented sons." Accordingly, he renamed their village Gao-yang Village, and contemporaries called them the "eight dragons."

[2] "Zhen-ren" here appears to have the double meaning of the name of a star and the Taoist term for one who realizes the Tao within himself. See Zhuang-zu VI, 2a; Watson, 77.

[3] HCYC: When Chen Shi accompanied his sons to visit Xun Shu and his sons, there was at the time a confluence of powerful stars, and the grand astrologer reported to the Throne, "Worthies from a distance of 500 li are gathering."

7. A guest once asked Chen Chen, "What achievements and virtues does your father, Chen Shi, have that he enjoys such an honorable reputation throughout the realm?"

Chen replied, "My father is like a cassia (gui) tree growing on the slopes of Mt. Tai (Shandong). Above, there is a height of ten thousand ren, and below, an unfathomable depth. From above it is sprinkled with sweet dew, and from below it is watered by hidden springs. Yet while this is going on, how can the cassia tree know the height of Mt. Tai or the depth of the hidden springs? I wouldn't know if he has any achievements and virtues or not." (IWLC 89; TPYL 518, 957; TPKC 169)


8. Chen Ji's son, Qun, possessed outstanding ability. Once he and his cousin, Zhong (the son of Ji's younger brother, Chen), were each discussing his father's relative achievements and virtues, and, after getting into an argument over it, could not reach a solution. They referred the matter to their grandfather Chen Shi, who replied, "It's hard to regard either Ji as the older brother or Chen as the younger." (SWLC, hou 8)


9. Xun Ju-bo had come from a distance to visit a sick friend. It happened just then that Hu (1) bandits attacked the commandery. The friend said to Ju-bo, "I'm going to die now, anyhow. You may as well leave."

Ju-bo replied, "I came a long distance to see you, and now you are telling me to leave. Is destroying morality to save his own life something Xun Ju-bo would do?"

After the bandits arrived, they said to Ju-bo, "A large army has arrived and the entire commandery is deserted. What sort of man are you that you dare remain here alone?"

Ju-bo replied, "My friend is sick and I can't bear to abandon him. I would rather give myself up for my friend's life."

The bandits talked it over among themselves and said, "We are people without morality who have entered a state where morality prevails." And forthwith they withdrew their army and returned home, and the entire commandery was preserved intact. (IWLC 21; TPYL 409)


[1] Hu is a general term for non-Chinese peoples of the North and Northwest, especially Xiong-nu, Xian-bei, and inhabitants of Turkestan. Several uprisings and raids by such groups, mostly in border areas, are recorded between the years 155 and 166, when Xun Ju-bo was active (HSCC). See TCTC 53.1731-55 and 1796.

10. Hua Xin in his treatment of his sons and younger brothers was extremely strict: even at leisure within the bosom of the family he maintained a rigid formality as though attending a court ceremony. Chen Ji and his younger brother (Chen), on the other hand, were very free in their expression of tenderness and affection. Yet within the two households neither one on this account ever strayed from the path of harmony and peace. (1) (TPYL 511; HTC4)


[1] WeiL: During the reign of Emperor Ling (168-189) Hua Xin accompanied Bing Yuan and Guan Ning of Bei-hai (Shandong) in their travels and study and was friendly with them. At the time people used to say, "The three of them make one dragon," meaning that Xin was the dragon's head, Ning the belly, and Yuan the tail.

11. Guan Ning and Hua Xin were together in the garden hoeing vegetables when they spied a piece of gold in the earth. Guan went on plying his hoe as though it were no different from a tile or a stone. Hua, seizing it, threw it away.

On another occasion they were sharing a mat reading when someone riding a splendid carriage and wearing a ceremonial cap passed by the gate. Guan continued to read as before; Hua, putting down his book, went out to look. Guan cut the mat in two and sat apart, saying, "You're no friend of mine." (1) (IWLC 65, 69, 83; TPYL 409, 611, 709,, 764, 811, 824; SWLC, xu 9; PTSC 97, 133)


[1] WeiL: When Guan Ning was young he was quiet and dispassionate and used to laugh at Bing Yuan and Hua Xin for having the ambition to become officials. When Hua was appointed director of instruction, he sent up a letter to the throne deferring to Guan. But when the latter heard of it he laughed and said, "Hua always wanted to be an old bureaucrat, so let him have the glory of it and be done with it."

12. Wang Lang often praised Hua Xin for his understanding and capacity. On the day of the Year-end Sacrifice (zha) (1) Hua used to gather his sons and nephews for feasting and drinking, so Wang also imitated his example. When someone told Zhang Hua of this affair, Zhang remarked, "Whenever Wang imitates Hua it's always the externals of the form only, and that's why he ends up farther away from him than ever." (YCPT 12; IWLC 5; PTSC 155; SLF 5; TPYL 33; HTC 4)


[1]"Record of Rites" XI, 21 (Legge, Li Ki I, 431): The Son of Heaven's Great Year-end Sacrifice (da-zha) consisted of eight parts.... (The legendary ruler) Yi-ji was the first to perform it. Zha means "to search." In the twelfth month of the year he gathers all things and searches for the spirits and offers them food.

WCYI: During the Three Dynasties the Year-end Sacrifice was called La: the Xia (trad. 2205-1766 B.C.) called it Jia-ping, Auspicious Leveling; the Yin (1766-1122) called it Qing-ji, Pure Sacrifice; the Chou (1122-256) called it the Da-zha. The general term for all three is La.

LCI: The Year-end Sacrifice is a time when "the Son of Heaven gathers all things and searches for the spirits and offers them food." It is a time at the year's end when he rests the aged and eases the people. The La are the five sacrifices offered in the ancestral temple. According to the tradition la means "to join." At the sacrifice the new and old years are joined together. Ever since Qin and Han times the day following the La sacrifice has been the first day of the new year. It is a traditional term from the past. (IWLC 5; TPYL 33)

13. Hua Xin and Wang Lang were sailing together in a boat fleeing the troubles of war (1) when someone wanted to join them. Hua, for his part, disapproved, but Wang said, "Fortunately we still have room. Why isn't it all right?"

Later, when the rebels were overtaking them, Wang wanted to get rid of the man they had taken along, but Hua said, "This was precisely the reason I hesitated in the first place. But since we've already accepted his request, how can we abandon him in an emergency?" So they took him along as before to safety.

The world by this indicident has determined the relative merits of Hua and Wang.


[1] I.e., during Dong Zhuo's removal of the Later Han capital from Luo-yang (Henan) to Chang-an (Shensi) in 190.

PH: While Hua Xin was magistrate of Xia-gui Prefecture (Shensi) the House of Han was in the midst of upheaval, and Hua took flight together with sex or seven like-minded gentlemen, Zheng Tai and others. As they emerged from the Wu Pass (E. Shensi), along the way they came upon a man traveling alone who wanted to join them. Every one took pity on him and wanted to let him do so. Hua alone said, "It won't do. Right now we're already in danger, and the chances of good or evil fortune are about equal. But if we take him with us now without sufficient reason, there's no telling what the chances will be. If we have to hurry on or retreat, could we then abandon him midway?"

But the others could not bear to leave him, so in the end he accompanied them. Along the way this man fell in a wall and everyone was in favor of abandoning him. But Hua said, "Since he's already in our company, it's not right to abandon him." So they went back together and pulled him out, and after that he parted from them. (Cf. SKWei 13.10b, comm.)

14. Wang Xiang in serving his stepmother, Mme. Zhu, was extremely conscientious (1). There was a plum tree (li) (2) in their home whose fruit was exceptionally good, and his stepmother always had him protect it. Once when a storm of wind and rain came up suddenly, Xiang embraced the tree, weeping.

On another occasion, Xiang was sleeping on a separate bed when his stepmother herself came over and slashed at him in the dark. As it happened, Xiang had gotten up to relieve himself, and her vain slashing struck only the bedclothes. After Xiang returned to the room he realized his stepmother bore him an implacable resentment, and kneeling before her he begged her to end his life. His stepmother then for the first time came to her senses and loved him ever afterward as her own son (3). (CS 33.1b; TPYL 413)


[1] Wang Xiang lost his own mother, Mme. Xue of Gao-ping (Shandong), at an early age. His father, Wang Rong*, later married Mme. Zhu of Lu-Jiang (Anhwei). See SSHY Comm., citing (Wang) Xiang Shi-jia.

[2] In CS 33.1b and TPYL 413 the tree is identified as a crab apple (nai).

[3] In Wang Xiang's stepmorther's courtyard, there was a plum tree. When it began to bear fruit she had Xiang watch it by day for crows and sparrows, and by night to drive away rats. One night a heavy storm of wind and rain came up, and Xiang embraced the tree, weeping. When dawn came and his stepmother saw him, she felt sorry for him...

Once in midwinter, when the ice was solid, his stepmother suddenly had a craving for fresh fish. Xiang unfastened his clothes and was about to break the ice to get some when it happened that a place in the ice opened slightly and a fish came out...

Xiang's stepmother had a sudden craving for roast sparrow (huang-que), and Xiang thought to himself that it would be difficult to accomplish in a hurry. But in a matter of moments forty or fifty sparrows flew into his net.

Whatever his stepmother required, he was sure to rush off in person to find, and he never failed to get it. Such was the extent of his sincerity (cheng).

CYC: Xiang's stepmother frequently slandered him, but whenever she treated him unreasonably, his half brother, Lan (her own son), would always take Xiang's part. Furthmore, whenever she abused Xiang's wife, Lan's wife would also rush to her support, all of which his stepmother resented.

YYCS: Because of his stepmother Xiang slowly wasted away and never took office. When he was well on towards sixty the governor of Xu province (N. Kiangsu and Anhwei), Lu Qian, summoned him to serve as lieutenant-governor. His contemporaries used to sing the following song about him:
"The sea and River Yi's repose
Are truly due to our Wang Xiang.
That land and state do not lie waste--
All credit to the governor's aide."

He was eventually promoted to become grand protector.

15. Sima Zhao once exclaimed in admiration, "Ruan Ji is the most prudent of men. Whenever I talk with him, all his talk is about the abstruse and remote. I have never yet heard him pass any judgment on personalities." (1) (TPYL 390)


[1] WSCC: Ruan Ji was free and unrestrained and would not be bound by rites or custom. The governor of Yan province (N. Anhwei), Wang Chang, requested an interview with him, but never got to speak with him the whole day. Chang was humiliated and resentful, feeling that he himself was unable to fathom Ji. Ji for his part never talked about worldly affairs; he remained spontaneous and transcendent.

CC: Long ago, I (Li Bing) was once seated in the presence of the former "Emperor" (Sima Zhao). At the time there were three senior administrators who had come to see him together. As they were about to excuse themselves and leave, His Majesty said, "To be an official or chief one should be incorruptible, prudent, and diligent. If you cultivate these three [things] you need never worry that order will not prevail."

They all accepted the imperial advice. His Majesty then turned and said to us, "If you had to make a choice, which of the three should be paramount?"

Someone replied, "Of course, incorruptibility is the root of the others."

Then he asked me, and I replied, "The ways of incorruptibility and prudence require each other to be complete. But if I had to make a choice, then prudence would be the greatest."

His Majesty said, "Your words have got to the root of the matter. Could you give me an example from recent times of someone who has been able to be prudent?"

I then gave as examples the former grand marshal, Xun Yi, and President Dong Zhong-da and Vice-president Wang Gong-zhong.

His Majesty said, "All these men, inasmuch as they are warm and respectful from morning till night, and are models in their management of affairs, are also, each in his own way, prudent. However, the most prudent man in the realm -- wouldn't it be Ruan Ji? Whenever I talk with him, etc. He has never yet criticized or discussed current affairs or passed any judgment, etc. Might he not be called the most prudent?"

16. Wang Rong said, "I have lived with Xi Kang (1) for twenty years (2) and never saw an expression of either pleasure or irritation on his face." (CS 49.12a)


[1] WYCS: Xi Kang's surname was originally Xi*. His ancestors moved from Shang-yu Prefecture (Zhegiang?) to escape a grievance and settled in Zhi Prefecture of Jiao Principality (S. Henan). Since his family had come from Kuai-ji (Zhegiang?), he took one part of the name of the principality (-ji) and pronounced it like his original name, Xi.

YYCS: In Zhi Prefecture there is a Mt. Ji*. Since his home was on its slope, he took his name from it.

(Xi) Kang PC: Kang's nature was to swallow insults and hide his resentment. Love and hate did not contend within his breast, nor were pleasure and anger expressed in his face. His friend, Wang Rong, while he was living in Xiang-cheng (Henan), saw him face to face several hundred times, but never heard his voice or saw his face flushed in anger.This was indeed an excellent model for the realm, as well as a superb achievement in human relations.

[2] Wang Rong met Ruan Ji when he was fifteen (ca. 250) and presumably did not begin his acquaintance with Xi Kang or the other "Worthies of the Bamboo Grove" before that time. Since Xi Kang was executed in 262, Wang could in that case have known him only about twelve years.

17. Wang Rong (1) and He Qiao experienced the loss of a parent at the same time, and both were praised for their filial devotion. Wang, reduced to a skeleton (2), kept to his bed; while He, wailing and weeping, performed all the rites (3). Emperor Wu (Sima Yan, r. 265-290), remarked to Liu Yi, "Have you ever observed Wang Rong and He Qiao? I hear that He's grief and suffering go way beyond what is required by propriety, and it makes me worry about him."

Liu Yi replied, "He Qiao, even though performing all the rites, has suffered no loss in his spirit or health. Wang Rong, even though not performing the rites, is nonetheless so emaciated with grief that his bones stand out. Your servant is of the opinion that He Qiao's is the filial devotion of life, while Wang Rong's is the filial devotion of death. Your Majesty should not worry about Qiao, but rather about Rong." (CS 43.11a)


[1] CCKT: While "Emperor Wen" (Sima Zhao) was in control of the (Wei) government (255-265) Zhong Hui recommended Wang Rong to him with the words, "Pai Kai is pure and perceptive; Wang Rong is unceremonious and concentrates on the essential."

[2] Literally, "chicken-boned."

[3] CYC: While Rong was serving as governor of Yu Province (Henan) he experienced the loss of his mother. He was by nature extremely filial but was not bound by the ritual code. Even though he drank wine and ate meal as usual, or watches games of draughts and chess, his facial appearance became emaciated and downcast, and he could rise only with the aid of a staff. At the same time, He Qiao of Ru-nan (Henan) was also a famous gentleman. He held himself rigidly to the ritual code. While he was mourning the loss of a parent (CS 43.7a specifies his father) he measured his rice before eating, but his sorrow and emaciation did not approach Rong's.

18. The Prince of Liang (Sima Tong) and the Prince of Zhao (Sima Lun), being close relatives of the emperor, were most noble and honored in their time. Pei Kai (1) each year requested from their principalities a tax of several million cash (qian) in order to relieve the needy members on his mother's and father's sides of the family. Someone ridiculed him, saying, "How can you beg from others to perform an act of private charity?"

Pei replied, "To diminish excesses and supplement deficiencies is the Way of Heaven." (2) (CS 35.14b)


[1] MSC: Once Pei Kai had chosen a course of action, he moved in complete compliance with his own mind. Even though slanderous remarks came his way, he held his ground calmly.

[2] Lao-zi 77.

19. Wang Rong said, "Although Wang Xiang lived in the Zheng-shi era (240-249), he did not belong to the group of able conversationalists. (1) Yet whenever anyone talked with him, the effect of his reasoning (2) was pure and remote. Isn't it a case of his virtue having overshadowed his speech?" (CS 33.4a)


[1] I.e., He Yan, Wang Bi, Deng Yang, and others of the coterie of Cao Shuang, whose brilliance as conversationalists gave the Zheng-shi era its luster as the "Golden Age" of "pure conversation" (Qing-tan).

[2] Emending li-zhong of the Song edition to li-zhi after CS 33.4a.

20. When Wang Rong experienced the loss of his mother, his extreme grief went beyond that of other men. Pei Kai, after going to offer his condolences, said, "If a single sorrow could actually hurt a person, Wang Rong could not escape the charge of 'extinguishing his nature.'" (1) (CS 43.11a, where Pei Wei is credited with the statement)


[1] Qu-li ("Record of Rites" I, 33; Legge I, 87-88): The rites for one in mourning are: though emaciated and lean, he should not show it, nor let his sight and hearing be dimmed... If he becomes unable to perform the mourning, it is comparable to being uncompassionate or unfilial.

Xiao-jing (18): To become emaciated, but not to the point of extinguishing the nature -- this is the teaching of the sages.

21. Wang Rong's father, Wang Hun*, had an honorable reputation, and in his official career had reached the governorship of Liang Province (Gansu). When Hun* died, loyal friends in the nine commanderies where he had successively served, cherishing the memory of his virtues and favors, got together and contributed several million cash. But Rong accepted none of it. (1) (CS 43.9b; TPYL 550)


[1] YYCS: It was on the strength of this that Wang Rong got his reputation.

22. Liu Bao was once sentenced to penal servitude, and the Prince of Fu-feng (Chang-an), Sima Jun (1), ransomed him for five hundred bolts (pi) of cloth. Later, he employed him as a junior administrator. At the time it was considered to be an exemplary act.


[1] CCKT: When Sima Jun was in his eighth year (239) he became cavalier attendant-in-ordinary and attendant explicator to the Wei Prince of Qi, Cao Fang. After the Jin received the mandate (265) he was enfeoffed Prince of Fu-feng and stationed in Guan-zhong (Chang-an). His administration was considered the best the region ever had. After his death he was given the posthumous title, Prince Wu. The people of the West missed him sorely, and those who merely saw the inscription on his tombstone all did obeisance and wept. Such was the legacy of affection he had left.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Kongde » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:06 am

Chapter 1 - Virtuous Conduct (Part 2)

23. Wang Cheng, Hu-wu Fu-zhi, and their circle all considered giving rein to their impulses to be "freedom" (da) (1), and there were even some among them who went naked.

Yue Guang laughed about it and said, "In the Moral Teaching (ming-jiao) itself there are also enjoyable places. Why go to such lengths?" (CS 43.23b; WHLSC 38, 39, 40)


[1] WYCS: Toward the end of the Wei Kingdom, Ruan Ji in his fondness for wine let himself go completely. Baring his head and letting his hair loose, he would set with his legs sprawled apart, completely naked. After him his disciples who valued "free wandering" -- people like Ruan Ji, Wang Cheng, Xie Kun, and Hu-wu Fu-zhi -- all carried on the tradition founded by Ruan Ji, claiming they had attained the root of the Great Way. So they doffed kerchief and cap, stripped off their clothes and exposed their foul ugliness like so many birds or beasts. Those who went to extremes were called "unimpeded" (tong), and those in the next category were called "free" (da). (Cf. also the biography of Guang Yi, CS 49.14b-15a, and Zürcher, Conquest, 78-79; Fung, History, II, 190-191.)

24. When Chi Jian met with the devastation and upheavals of the Yong-jia era (307-312) (1), he was living in his home village (Jin-xiang, in Shandong) in extreme poverty and hunger. The villagers, because of his reputation and virtue, took turns sharing their food with him. At first Chi always took along his elder brother's son, Chi Mai, and his sister's son, Zhou Yi*, whenever he went to eat. But the villagers said, "All of us are hungry and hard-pressed ourselves. It's only because you're an important, worthy person that we want to share in helping you. But we're afraid we can't survive if we feed the children too.

Chi thereafter went alone to eat, but each time would hold the rice in his mouth tucked against the sides of his two cheeks. When he got home, he would spit it out and give it to the two boys. Afterward they all survived and crossed the Yangtze river together.

When Chi Jian died (339), Zhou Yi* was serving as magistrate of Shan Prefecture (Zhegiang?). Resigning from his post, he returned home and sat on a straw mat at the head of Chi's spirit bed (ling-chuang) in heart-mourning for a full three years. (2) (CS 67.19a; MCYC, xia, PSLT 6; TPYL 367, 486, 512)


[1] I.e., the invsations and destruction of Western Jin by the Xiong-nu.

[2] The mourning prescribed for teachers, without outward signs, but in the heart. (See "Record of Rites" III, 2; Legge I, 121.)

25. While Gu Rong was living in Luo-yang (Henan), he once accepted someone's invitation to a meal. Sensing that the man who was serving the roasts had the appearance of wanting some himself, he stopped eating his own and gave it to him. Those who were seated with him laughed at him, but Rong replied, "Should the one who holds the meat in his hands all day never know its flavor?"

Later on when he encountered the disorders (1) and was fleeting south across the Yangtze River, whenever he was passing through danger or an emergency, he always found a man on his left or right protecting him. After inquiring into the reason, it turned out that it was the man who had received the roast. (2) (CS 68.1b; PTSC 145; TPYL 477, 863; SWLC, xu 10)


[1] Of 307-312; see the preceding anecdote.

[2] WASC: Once while Gu Rong was in the Department of Punishments, he was feasting with his colleagues when he observed that the man serving the roasts was different from an ordinary servant, so he cut off some of his own and gave it to him to eat. Later when the Prince of Zhao, Sima Lun, usurped the throne (300), his son, Sima Qian*, who was serving as central commander coerced Rong to serve as his senior administrator. When Lun was executed (301), Rong was also taken into custody and over ten persons of his group were killed. But there was someone who saved Rong's life. When asked for his reason, the man replied, "I am the servant from such-and-such a department who received the roast from you."

Rong then realized who he was and, sighing, said, "The proverb 'Yesterday's kind favor of a single meal today is not forgotten,' is no empty saying of the ancients!"

26. When Zu Na was young, though orphaned and impoverished, he was by nature extremely filial, and would always personally tend the stove and prepare the food for his mother. Wang Yi, hearing of his excellent reputation, made a present to him of two female slaves and took him on as a junior administrator. Someone teased him, saying, "So the price of a male slave is twice that of a female slave!"

Zu replied, "Was Bo-li Xi (1) necessarily less valuable than the five ram skins with which he was ransomed?" (2) (CS 62.20a, where Wang Yi is mistakenly identified as Wang Dun; IWLC 35; TPKC 246)


[1]Bo-li Xi was a grandee of the seventh century B.C. who, after wandering from state to state offering his services, fell into the hands of brigands, and was ransomed by King Mu of Qin (r. 659-621 B.c.) for five ram skins and raised to high honors. (CKHHC)

[2] There may be a pun intended between Xi's name and nu, both of which mean "male slave," and between pei, "female slave," and pi, "skin," both of which in Middle Chinese were pronounced *b'jie.

27. Zhou Zhen had resigned his post as grand warden of Lin-chuan (Giangsi) and was returning to the capital. Before he went up to court he stopped and moored his boat by the bank of the Qing Creek (south of Jian-kang), where Chancellor Wang Dao went to visit him. It was during the summer months and a violent rainstorm suddenly came up. The boat was extremely small and in addition leaked profusely, so that there was scarcely any place to sit down. Wang said, "In what respect did Hu Wi's incorruptibility surpass this?" (1) Accordingly he memorialized to have Zhou employed as grand warden of Wu-xing Commandery (Zhegiang?). (PTSC 38; MCYC, xia, TPYL 21, 262; the first and fourth quotations substitute Zhou Yi for Zhou Zhen)


[1] CYC: Hu Wei's father, Zhi, was famous for his loyalty and incorruptibility. When Zhi was governor of Jing province (Henan-Hubei) Wei went from the capital (Luo-yang) to visit him. When he announced that he was returning, Zhi presented him with a bolt of silk. Kneeling, Wei said, "Father, with your incorruptibility and eminence, where did you get this?"

Zhi replied, "This was left over from my salary, so I'm using it for your provisions on the trip, that's all."

Wei accepted it and departed. Whenever he arrived at an inn, he would personally put out his donkey to graze, then gather firewood and cook his own meals. When he was finished eating he would resume his travels.

The director-general from Zhi's staff had been secretly laying aside provisions and wanted the silk. Accordingly he accompanied Wei as a traveling companion, and in all matters helped make the arrangements, and furthermore ate very little rice himself. Wei became suspicious of him and, confidentially drawing him out with questions, discovered he was none other than the director-general. Wei therefore [taking the silk he had previously been given] repaid and thanked him and sent him on his way. Later [in a separate letter] he reported the matter to Zhi, and Zhi had the director-general beaten with one hundred strokes and his name removed from the official register. Such was the incorruptibility and prudence of father and son.

When Wei became governor of Xu Province (northern Giangsu? and Anhui), Emperor Wu (Sima Yan r. 265-290) granted him an interview and talked with him about affairs at the frontier. When the conversation touched upon everyday life, the emperor sighed in admiration over his father's incorruptibility, and took the occasion to ask Wei, "How does your incorruptibility compare with your father's?"

Wei replied, "Mine falls short of his."

The emperor asked, "In what way did his surpass yours?"

Wei replied, "In the case of my father's incorruptibility, he was afraid other people would know about it. In my case, I'm afraid other people won't know about it. In this respect mine falls far short of his."

(Portions in square brackets have been interpolated from SKWei 27.5a, comm., which cites the same source.)

28. When Deng You began his flight from the troubles of war (1), he abandoned his own son along the way to save the son of his deceased younger brother. (2) After crossing the Yangtze River he took a concubine whom he loved devotedly. Some years later he inquired about her origins, and the concubine told him her whole story -- she was a northernor who had emigrated after meeting with the disorders. When she recalled the names of her parents, it appeared she was You's niece on his mother's side. You had always led a virtuous life, and his speech and conduct were above reproach. When he heard this he was stricken with grief and remorse. To the end of his life he never again kept a concubine. (3) (CS 90. 13ab, 14b)


[1] I.e., during the Xiong-nu invasions of the North between 307 and 312.

[2] You's younger brother's name is unknown; the brother's son was Deng Sui (Li-min; see below, n. 3, end).

[3] TTCC: During the Yong-jia period (307-312) You was captured by the Xiong-nu chieftan Shi Luo, who summoned him for an interview, keeping him standing beneath the tent. After talking with him, Luo took a liking to You and had him sit down and eat with him.

The place where You's carriage was parked was hub-to-hub with that of a Hu barbarian. The Hu neglected his fire and burned down the whole carriage encampment. One of Luo's petty officers interrogated the Hu, who falsely accused You. You estimated that it would be impossible to argue with him, so he said, "A while ago I was cooking gruel for my old woman and I neglected the fire, which spread out of control. My crime deserves ten thousand deaths."

When Luo learned of it, he pursued him. But the Hu who had falsely accused him generously repaid You's kindness and gave him his own donkey and horse and convoyed him out of the camp so that he was able to make his escape.

WYCS: Because of the length of the journey, You hacked his carriage to pieces and had the ox and horse carry his wife and the children on their backs to make their escape. Bandits later robbed them of the ox and horse. You said to his wife, "My younger brother died early and there is only his son, Sui, left to carry on his name. Now that we have to travel on foot, to carry both boys on our backs and have all of us die would not be as good as abandoning our own son and carrying Sui in our arms. Afterwards we may still have another son." His wife consented.

CHS: You abandoned his own son in the grass. The boy followed, sobbing and calling after them, finally catching up with them at nightfall. The next morning You bound his son to a tree and departed, and so they got across the Yangtze River... When You died, this younger brother's son, Sui, wore the coarse hempen mourning garments of the second degree for him for three years.

29. (1) Wang Yue as a person was respectful and agreeable, and in servicing his parents completely discharged his filial duty of "care with a cheerful countenance." (2) Each time his father, Chancellor Wang Dao, saw him he was always glad, whereas each time he saw Yue's younger half-brother, Tian, he was always angry. When Yue talked with the chancellor he always made a discreet intimacy his first principle. As the chancellor returned to his office, when it came time to go, Yue never failed to escrot him to the rear of the carriage, and he would always arrange the boxes and cases for his mother, Mme. Cao (Cao Shu).

After Yue died, when the chancellor returned to his office, from the time he mounted the carriage he continued to weep until he reached the office gate. Mme. Cao placed a seal on the boxes and could not bring herself to reopen them. (CS 65.11a and 10a)


[1] In KI, this item is only prefaced by the following anecdote: Chancellor Wang Dao once dreamed that a man wished to buy his elder son, Wang Yu, for a million cash. The chancellor was very upset over it and secretly made elaborate arrangements for someone to pray for him. Later, while he was building a room, he inadvertantly unearthed and discovered a vault of cash, estimated at ten million. Very unhappy, he hid the whole treasure away and locked it up. Without warning, Yue died.

[2] Cf. "Analects" II, 8.

30. Each time Huan Yi heard anyone characterize Zhu Fa-shen, he would always say, "Since this genetleman had a reputation in the past, and in addition enjoyed the praise of the former generation, and furthermore had the most cordial relations with my deceased father (Huan Hao), it's not proper to talk about him."

31. Among the horses which Yu Liang used to ride, there was a White Forehead (di-lu). (1) When someone (2) suggested that he sell it, Yu replied, "If I sell it, there has to be a buyer, and so I will be harming the new owner. I would far rather inconvenience myself than shift the risk to someone else. Long ago Sun Shu-ao (3) killed a two-headed snake for the benefit of those who might come after him. Isn't it a mark of understanding to imitate the excellent stories of antiquity?" (CS 73.10b)


[1] HMC: Horses with a white forehead extending to their mouths as far as the front teeth are called Elm Geese (yu-yan), or White Foreheads (di-lu). If a slave rides one, he will die in a strange land, and if the owner rides, he will be executed in the marketplace. It is an ill-omened horse.

(SKSHU 2.6a, comm., quoting WCSY, describes Liu Bei's escape on a White Forehead which could "leap thirty feet in one bound.")

[2] YL (so also CS 73.10b): Yin Hao urged him to sell the horse.

[3] CIHS (Chun-qiu pian): When Sun Shu-ao (fl. 600 B.c.) was a boy he went out on the road and saw a two-headed snake, which he killed and buried. When he came home and saw his mother he was crying. She asked the reason, and he answered, "The person who sees a two-headed snake is sure to die. Today I went out and saw one, and that's why I'm crying."

His mother asked, "Where is the snake now?"

He answered, "I was afraid people coming after me would see it, so I killed it and buried it."

His mother said, "Whoever does good in secret will surely be rewarded openly. You have nothing to worry about."

Subsequently he rose to favor at court in Chu, and when he was grown he became prime minister.

32. While Ruan Yu was living in Shan (Zhegiang?) he owned a fine carriage. For anyone who asked to borrow it he never failed to make it available. There was one man who was burying his mother who had in mind to borrow it but did not dare speak to him. Ruan, hearing of it later, signed and said, "If I own a carriage and make people not dare to borrow it, what's the use of having a carriage?" Whereupon he burned it. (CS 49.10b)

33. While Xie Yi was serving as magistrate of Shan Prefecture (Zhegiang?) there was an old man who had violated the law. Xie penalized him by making him drink unmixed wine. Even after the man had become excessively drunk, he still did not stop.

Yi's younger brother, Xie An, was in his seventh or eighth year at the time, and was seated by his elder brother's knee wearing blue cloth trousers. He rebuked Yi, saying, "Big brother, the old man is to be pitied; how can you do this to him?"

Yi at this point changed his expression and said, "Do you want me to let him go?" Whereupon he dismissed him. (CS 79.12a; TPYL 516)

34. Xie An (1) was an absolute admirer of Chu Pou, and often praised him, saying, "Although Chu Pou doesn't speak, the working of the four seasons is nonetheless complete." (2) (CS 93.6b)


[1] WTC: When Huan Yi saw Xie An in his fourth year, he praised him, saying, "This boy's manner and spirit are outstandingly perceptive. He will carry the tradition of Wang Cheng*."

[2] Cf. "Analects" XVII, 17: The Master said, "Does Heaven speak? The four seasons make their rounds by it; the hundred living things grow by it. But does Heaven speak?"

35. While Liu Tan was residing in Dan-yang Commandery (Jian-kang), as he approached his end and was breathing his last, he heard below his room the drumming and dancing of sacrifices to the spirits, and started with a solemn expression, "Let us have no obscene offerings."

Someone outside asked for permission to kill the ox which drew his carriage as a sacrifice to the spirits, but Tan replied, "I have already been praying for a long time; (1) don't trouble yourselves any further." (CS 75.34a)


[1] Cf. "Analects" VII, 35. Liu quoted Confucius directly, using the latter's personal name, Qiu, rather than the first-person pronoun.

36. Xie An's wife (Mme. Liu) was once instructing her sons (Xie Yao and Xie Yan), when she asked An, "How comes it that from the start I've never once seen you instructing your sons?"

An replied, "I'm always naturally instructing my sons." (1)


[1] SSHY Comm. (cf. CS 41.12a): The grand marshal, Liu Shi (219-309) was incorruptible and possessed determination and integrity. He conducted himself according to the rites, but his two sons (Ji and Xia) were incompetent, and both were convicted of accepting bribes. Shi (as their father) was implicated in their crime and relieved of his post.

A stranger asked him, "Why didn't you instruct them and lead them in the right way?"

Shi replied, "My own conduct of affairs was what their ears and eyes continually heard and saw, yet they did not imitate me. Would they have been changed by severe admonitions?"

37. When the Jin Emperor Jian-wen (Sima Yu) was serving as General Controlling the Army (345-361), he would not permit the dust to be brushed off the dais on which he sat. When he saw the tracks where rats had run he looked on them as a thing of beauty. One of his aides saw a rat running in broad daylight and struck and killed him with his baton. The general was displeased in both mind expression. But when one of his underlings raised an accusation against the aide, he rebuked him, saying, "Even when a rat comes to grief I can't get it out of my mind; so now isn't it out of the question to harm a man on account of a rat?" (SWLC, hou 41)

38. When Fan Xuan was in his eighth year he was cutting vegetables in the back garden when he accidentally injured his finger and started to cry loudly.

Someone asked, "Does it hurt?"

He replied, "It's not because it hurts, but 'even the hair and skin of the body I dare not destroy or injure' (1) -- that's the reason I'm crying."

Xuan was incorruptible in behavior as well as modest and frugal. When Han Bo once left him a hundred bolts (pi) of silk, he would not accept them. Han reduced them to fifty, but still he would not accept them. In this way Han kept reducing the amount by half until there was only one bolt left, but in the end Xuan would not even accept that.

Later, Han and Fan were riding together, and while they were in the carriage Han tore off two chang (about twenty feet) and presented it to Fan with the words, "Would you have your wife go without trousers?"

Fan, Laughing, accepted it. (2) (CS 91.15a; TPYL 370, 426, 696, 817; SWLC xu 2


[1] Xiao-ching 1.

[2] CHS (cf. CS 91.15b): Xuan's family was extremely poor, and he seldom took part in ordinary human affairs. When the grand warden of his home commandery, Yu-chang (Giangsi?), Yin Xian, observed that Xuan's thatched cottage was unfinished, he wanted to rebuild his house for him, but Xuan adamantly refused. Xian was very fond of him, and since Xuan was poor, and, moreover, the year was famine-stricken and an epidemic was raging, he provided him with generous portions of food, but again Xuan would accept none ofi t.

39. Wang Xian-zhi was critically ill. Daoists, when they offer up a petition (shang-chang), must make a confession of their faults (shou-guo). (1) The master in attendance (2) asked Xian-zhi what unusual events or successess and failures there had been in the course of his life.

Xian-zhi replied, "I'm not aware of anything else, except only that I remember being divorced from my wife of the Chi family (Chi Dao-mao)." (3) (CS 80.14a)


[1] The petition was written out on a paper and burned with incense. It was addressed to the Celestial Ruler (Tian-di) and usually requested an extension of life. It was accompanied by a confession, on the assumption that all sickness is the result of wrongdoing. See Holmes Welch, The Parting of the Way, Boston, 1957, p. 115.

[2] Cf. below, SSHY XVII, 16, n. 3: An unknown Daoist master came a distance to attend the two Wang brothers, Hui-zhi and Xian-zhi, who were ill at the same time. They both died in the same year (388), only a month apart.

[3] In the version of this story quoted, from TPYL 641, Xian-zhi says, "I have nothing to confess. It's only my having sent away the daughter of the Chi family which causes me regret."

40. After Yin Zhong-kan had become governor of Jing province (Henan-Hebei), he encountered a shortage of food due to floods. His meals always consisted of five bowls, and there was no extra food beyond what was in the dishes. If a grain of rice fell between the dishes and the mat, he would always pick it up and devour it. Although in doing so he wished to set an example for others, he was also following the true simplicity of his nature. He would often say to his sons and younger brothers, "Don't imagine, because I have accepted office in the present province, that I have given up my usual attitude of earlier days. At present, the situation in which we are living is not easy, but 'poverty is the gentleman's normal state.' (1) Why should he climb out on the branches and lose contact with his roots? You should all preserve this principle!" (CS 84.15b)


[1] Lie-zi 1.6 (Graham, p. 24).

41. Earlier Huan Xuan and Yang Guang had both advised Yin Zhong-kan to deprive Yin Ji of his post as Commandant of Southern Barbarians in order to establish their own power. Ji himself was also aware of their intentions. One day, on the pretext of walking after taking a powder, (1) he went directly to his private residence and never returned. No one either inside our outside his headquarters had any foreknowledge that he would do so, for his mood and expression were serene, resembling from afar To Gu-yu-tu's lack of resentment. (2) Contemporary discussions lauded him for this. (3) (CS 83.16ab)


[1] Xing-san, literally, "to walk a powder," was a therapeutic practice adopted from Xian-Daoism, the "Immortality Cult" of the late Han period, and popularized in the third century by He Yan (see below, SSHY II, 14). The powder was a blend of five mineral substances (wu-shi): stalactite (shi-zhong-ru), sulphur (shi-liu-huang), milky quartz (bai-shi-ying), amethyst (zi-shi-ying), and red bole or ochre (chi-shi-zhi). Taken with warm wine and cold food (the alternate name was cold-food powder, han-shi-san), it was circulated through the body by walking and was supposed to have simultaneously tranquilizing and exhiliarating properties. {See Bao-pu-zi 4.11a; Murakami Yoshimi, Chukoku no sennin, Kyoto, 1956, p. 57; Masutomi Junosuke, "Shosoin yakubutso o chushin to suru kodai sekiyaku no kenkyu," Shosoin no kobutsu, Kyoto, 1958, I, p. 21-22, and Yu Jia-xi, "Han-shi san kao," in Yu Jia-xi lun-xue za-zhu, Peking, 1963, pp. 181-226.}

[2] Cf. "Analects" V, 19: The prime minister of Chu, Zi-wen (Dou Gu-yu-tu, 7th cent. B.C.), served three times as prime ministers, but never looked pleased. Three times he was dismissed, but never looked resentful.

[3] CHS: Earlier Yin Zhong-kan wanted to raise men-at-arms to attack Sima Dao-zi and secretly sought help from Yin Ji, but Ji would not join him. Yang Guang and his younger brother, Yang Juan-qi, urged Zhong-kan to kill Ji, but he would not consent. (See below, SSHY X, 23, for the background of this incident.)

42. (In 397) when Wang Yu was governor of Jiang Province (Hubei and Giangsi?) and was being pursued by Yin Zhong-kan and Huan Xuan, (1) he fled for refuge to Yu-chang (Giangsi?), and it was not known whether he was alive or dead. His son, Wang Sui, was in the capital (Jian-kang), and since anxiety and grief showed in his face, whether in his daily acts or in eating and drinking, in everything he suffered a decline. His contemporaries called him a "son who is tasting the mourning of his parents." (CS 75.15b)


[1] HKCC: Wang Yu had barely arrived at his post in Wu-chang as governor of Jing Province when Huan Xuan and Yang Juan-qi began raising men-at-arms in response to the call of Wang Gong to punish Sima Dao-zi (in 397). Coming downstream from Jiang-ling, they arrived unexpectedly. Yu was undefended and in panic took refuge in Lin-chuan (Giangsi?), where he was captured by Huan Xuan. When Huan usurped the throne (in 404), Yu was transferred to be vice-president of the Court Secretariat.

43. After Huan Xuan had defeated the governor of Jing Province, Yin Zhong-kan (in 399), he apprehended ten or more of Yin's generals and aides, including the advisory aide, Luo Qi-sheng. (1) In the past Huan had treated Qi-sheng generously, so just before he was to be executed, Huan first sent a man to tell him, "If you apologize to me, I will remit your sentence."

Qi-sheng replied, "I am a petty officer on the staff of the governor of Jing Province. At present the governor has fled and disappeared and there is no telling if he is dead or alive. How should I have the face to apologize to Lord Huan?"

After he came out into the marketplace for execution Huan again sent someone to ask if he wanted to say anything. He replied, "In the past, Prince Wen of Jin (Sima Zhao) killed Xi Kang, but Xi's son, Shao, became a loyal minister of the Jin. (2) I beg of you to spare my one younger brother (Luo Zun-sheng) to take care of my aged mother."

Huan did spare the brother as requested.

On an earlier occasion Huan had presented Qi-sheng's mother, Lady Hu, with a lambskin coat. Lady Hu was living at the time in Yu-chang Commandery (Giangsi?). When news of Qi'sheng's execution arrived, she burned the coat the very same day. (CS 89.26b)


[1] (Huan) Xuan PC: When Xuan conquered Jing Province, he killed Yin Dao-hu (son of Yin Zhong-kan's younger brother) and Zhong-kan's aides, Luo Qi-sheng and Bao Ji-li, all of whom had been intimately relied upon by Zhong-kan.

CHS (cf. CS 89.26ab): Yin Zhong-kan had at first requested Luo Qi-sheng to serve as work-detail officer in his headquarters, but when Huan Xuan came to attack, he transferred him to advisory aide. Zhong-kan was frequently in doubt and seldom decisive, which was a source of deep concern to Qi-sheng. He said to his younger brother, Zun-sheng, "Lord Yin is a good man, but indecisive, and his affairs are certain not to succeed. But whether they succeed or fail is within Heaven. I will stick with him dead or alive."

When Zhong-kan fled, none of his civil or military staff saw him off. Only Qi-sheng accompanied him. Their route passed Qi-sheng's house, where Zun-sheng tricked him by saying, "If we're going to part like this, can't you at least shake hands?"

Qi-sheng turned his horse about and extended his hand, whereupon Zun-sheng pulled him down and said, "You have an aged mother at home; what will she do?"

Qi-sheng brushed away his tears and said, "In today's affair I am sure to die. All of you take care of her, and don't neglect the way of sons. If in a single family there are both loyal and filial sons, then what regrets can there be?"

Zun-sheng held him even more tightly in his arms, while Zhong-kan waited for him in the road. Qi-sheng shouted at a distance to him, "Today it's all the same if I live or die. Please don't wait any longer!"

Zhong-kan saw there was no possibility of Qi-sheng's getting away, so, goading his horse, he departed.

In a very short time, Huan Xuan arrived. Men and officers all flocked to Xuan. Qi-sheng alone did not go, but stayed to put Zhong-kan's house in order. Someone said to him, "Xuan's nature is suspicious and impetuous; he'll never be able to comprehend your sincerity or integrity. If you don't go to visit him, calamity will surely come to you."

Qi-sheng replied with a solemn expression, "I am a petty officer of Lord Yin, who has treated me like a gentleman of the state. Since I haven't been able to join him in rooting out the wicked and rebellious, but he has instead ended in flight and defeat, with what countenance would I approach Huan to plead for my life?"

When Xuan heard of it he was furious and apprehended him, saying, "After I have treated you so well as this, why have you turned your back on me?"

Qi-sheng replied, "Sir, the blood of your sworn alliance with Yin is not yet dry on your mouth, yet you have hatched this treacherous plot. For myself I am distressed that my strength has been too weak to cut down the evil and rebellious. I only regret that I'm so late dying!"

Huan forthwith decapitated him. He was at the time in his thirty-seventh year.

[2] WYCS: When Emperor Hui (Sima Zhong, r. 290-306) was defeated (in 304) at Dang-yin (Henan), all his officers and attendants fled and dispersed. Only Xi Shao, with his perfect dignity and unruffled cap, defended the emperor with his own person. Armed men clashed by the imperial palanquin, and flying arrows gathered like rain, and thus he was killed.

44. When Wang Gong returned to the capital from Kuai-ji (Zhegiang?), Wang Chen went to see him. He observed that Gong was sitting on a six-foot bamboo mat, and accordingly said to him, "You've just come from the east and of course have plenty of these things; how about letting me have one?"

Gong said nothing, but after Chen had left he took up the one he had been sitting on and sent it along with him. Since he had no other mats, he sat thereafter on the coarse floor matting.

Later Chen heard of it and in extreme astonishment said, "I originally thought you had a lot of them, and that's the reason I asked for one."

Gong replied, "You don't know me very well. I'm the sort of person who has no extra things." (CS 84.1a)

45. Chen Yi of Wu Commandery (Soochow?) was extremely filial in his family relations. His mother was fond of eating scorched rice from the bottom of the pot. While Yi was a superintendent of records for the commandery he always kept a sack ready, and every time he cooked a meal he would always put aside some of his scorched rice in it. On the occasions when he returned home he would give it to his mother.

Later (in 401) it happened that Sun En's rebellion broke out in Wu Commandery. The grand warden, Yuan Shan-song, started punitive action against them the very same day. Yi had already collected several dipperfuls (dou) of scorched rice, but as he had not yet had leave to return home, he carried it with him on the campaign. They fought at Hu-du (northwest of Shanghai) and were defeated. The men in the ranks scattered and absconded among the hills and swamps, and most of them died of starvation. Yi alone, because of the scorched rice, managed to live. His contemporaries considered that this was the reward of his "unmixed filial devotion." (1) (Cf. Nan-shi 73.7b, under biog. of Pan Zong)


[1] Cf. Zuo-juan, Yin 1.4.

46. While Kong An-guo served as personal attendant to Emperor Xiao-wu (Sima Yao, r. 373-396), he was treated with fond regard. When the emperor was buried at Shan-ling (the imperial mausoleum near Jian-kang), Kong was at the time serving as grand ordinary. His frame had always been emaciated, and now he wore heavy mourning garments, weeping and wailing all day long. Those who say him thought he was a true filial son (mourning his father). (CS 78.3b-4a)

47. The two brothers, Wu Tan-zhi and Wu Yin-zhi were living in Dan-yang Commandery (Jian-kang). Sometime thereafter they experienced the loss of their mother, Mme. Tong (Tong Qin-yi), and from morning to evening they wept as they approached her coffin. Whenever their longing became extreme, or when guests came to offer condolences, they would wail and leap, and their grief would know no bounds; even those passing by on the road would shed tears for them.

At the time Han Bo was serving as intendant of Dan-yang, and his mother, Lady Yin, was living with him in the commandery next door to the Wu residence. Every time she heard the two Wu brothers weeping she felt sorry for them and would say to Bo, "If you are ever in a position to select officials, you should treat these men well." Bo himself also was aware of the situation.

Afterwards, Han Bo actually became president of the Board of Civil Office, and although the elder Wu never survived the period of mourning, (1) the younger Wu subsequently attainted great honor. (2) (CS 90.15a)


[1] THHTC (quoted, IWLC 20): On the evening in which Wu Tan-zhi's mother was buried they set up nine food offerings. Each time Tan-zhi approached for one of the offerings he would always cry out in grief until he lost his breath. At the seventh offering he spit up blood and died.

[2] HTC: When Yin-zhi encountered the loss of his mother, his grief and emaciation surpassed what was required by the rites. At the time he was living as a neighbor with the grand ordinary, Han Bo. Bo's mother, the younger sister of Yin Hao, was an intelligent and enlightened woman. Every time Yin-zhi wept, Bo's mother would always stop whatever she was doing to shed tears, her sympathy being said to Bo, "If later you ever occupy the office of weighing and selecting officials, always use this kind of person!"

Later after Bo became president of the Board of Civil Office, he promoted and employed Yin-zhi.

CATC: Wu Yin-zhi was already extremely filial by nature, but in addition was frugal and incorruptible. Whatever he received in salary he shared with all nine branches of his family, though he himself went without bedclothes even in winter.

(Ca. 400) Huan Xuan, wishing to clean up the corruption in Ling-nan, appointed him governor of Guang Province (Kwangdong-Kwangsi?). Twenty li from the provincial headquarters there had been a tradition that whoever drank from it, his heart would never know satiety. Accordingly, when Yin-zhi came to the bank of the river he poured himself a cupful and drank it, and proceeded to compose a poem, which went:
In Stone Gate is the Avarice Spring,
One whettling of the lips and there's a craving
for a thousand gold.
But try and make Bo Yi or Shu Chi take a drink;
Till death they'd never change their minds.

CHS: According to an old saying, anyone going to Guang Province who drinks from the Avarice Spring loses his frugality and incorruptibility. But when Wu Yin-zhi became governor, he poured himself a cup from Avarice Spring and drank it, then wrote an inscription on the Stone Gate in the form of a poem, which went, etc.

(Previous governors of Guang Province, succumbing to the soft life of the tropics and the profitable exploitation of the pearl industry along the southern coast, had made the post notorious. See CS 90.15b-16a; E. H. Schafer, "The Pearl Fisheries of Ho-p'u," JAOS 72, 1952, 155-168.)


End of Chapter 1
Last edited by Kongde on Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:56 pm

The Hu invaders dialogue in 9 made me laugh. Interesting some of these tales ended up in the ZZTJ and that some figures like Wang Rong and Han Xin's group got such a lot of tales around them, I like Liu Yi's ability to tend between the ritual and the facts behind it

Thanks Kongde, look forward to more tales
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Kongde » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:43 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:The Hu invaders dialogue in 9 made me laugh. Interesting some of these tales ended up in the ZZTJ and that some figures like Wang Rong and Han Xin's group got such a lot of tales around them, I like Liu Yi's ability to tend between the ritual and the facts behind it

Thanks Kongde, look forward to more tales

Most definitely, I think my favorite one so far that I found most humorous is the very first one on the next post (#23), one cant help but to laugh when reading it. I cant wait to post it so you can see for yourself :lol: I personally think there are many truths within Shishuo Xinyu. While it may not be designed to be historical, it certainly retains cultural elements of the time, and being how close to the time it was, I believe even some of the wives tales, at minimum, can give you an insight to how that person may have been even if the particular scenario is not fully true.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Lord Yang Jiahua » Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:35 am

The Hua Xin , Guan Ning interactions are also included in the Moss Roberts translations and the notes of SGYY.

I think Guan Ning wanted to be a devoted ascetic scholar, and is noting Hua Xin's actions as some kind of temptation/ shallowness for worldly matters. Therefore he shuns him.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Kongde » Fri Oct 11, 2019 9:28 pm

Part 2 of Chapter 1 is now up on the second post. Chapter 1 is now complete.

Enjoy! 8-)
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:31 am

5. Li Ying once praised Xun Shu (1) and Zhong Hao (2), saying, "Master Xun in his pure understanding would be hard to surpass, while Master Zhong in his supreme virtue may be taken as a teacher." (3) (HHS 92.12b)


I like this quote. :D
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Jordan » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:50 am

Thank you. This is very useful.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:30 am

Can I say this makes me slightly uncomfortable? Someone has worked hard translating it and put it in a book form so they can gain payment for doing so. I get why we prefer pinyin stuff and think that Kongde's efforts are fantastic and worthwhile, but wonder if perhaps it should only be shared with those who have paid for the book? Much like the pdf's of RDC's books? For the record I don't own the book but it is on my amazon wishlist.
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Re: Shishuo Xinyu [Pinyin Edition]

Unread postby Kongde » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:52 pm

DaoLunOfShiji wrote:
5. Li Ying once praised Xun Shu (1) and Zhong Hao (2), saying, "Master Xun in his pure understanding would be hard to surpass, while Master Zhong in his supreme virtue may be taken as a teacher." (3) (HHS 92.12b)


I like this quote. :D

:huohu: Very fitting

Jordan wrote:Thank you. This is very useful.


Glad to hear it!

Sun Fin wrote:Can I say this makes me slightly uncomfortable? Someone has worked hard translating it and put it in a book form so they can gain payment for doing so. I get why we prefer pinyin stuff and think that Kongde's efforts are fantastic and worthwhile, but wonder if perhaps it should only be shared with those who have paid for the book? Much like the pdf's of RDC's books? For the record I don't own the book but it is on my amazon wishlist.


A very valid concern, and one I hold as well. I would gladly take it down if requested to by the translator's estate/Publisher, Richard Mather. As far as proof of owning the book, my thinking was more in line that it would be similar to the ZZTJ situation considering its age. I would contact him and ask him for his good grace, however he has unfortunately passed away. As such, the only option I have left is to contact the publisher. To which, I've e-mailed and asked their permission to do. Does this quell your discomfort?
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