Zizhi Tongjian: The Han Dynasty (In Progress)

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BOOK 14

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:14 am

九年(庚午、前一七一)

The Ninth Year of Emperor Wen's Reign (The Gengwu or Metal Horse Year, 171 BC)


春,大旱。

1. In the spring, there was drought.

九年夏大旱。(Records of Former Han 7, Annals of Emperor Wen)

In the ninth year of Emperor Wen's reign (171 BC), in the spring, there was drought.
Last edited by Taishi Ci 2.0 on Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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BOOK 14

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:15 am

十年(辛未、前一七○)

The Tenth Year of Emperor Wen's Reign (The Xinwei or Metal Goat Year, 170 BC)


冬,上行幸甘泉。

1. In the winter (of 171 BC), Emperor Wen went to Ganquan.

十年冬。上行幸甘泉。(Records of Former Han 8, Annals of Emperor Wen)

In the tenth year of Emperor Wen's reign (170 BC), in the winter (of 171 BC), Emperor Wen went to Ganquan.


將軍薄昭殺漢使者。帝不忍加誅,使公卿從之飲酒,欲令自引分,昭不肯;使羣臣喪服往哭之,乃自殺。

2. Emperor Wen's uncle Bo Zhao killed a Han messenger. Although this was a crime deserving of death, Emperor Wen could not bear to have Bo Zhao executed. He sent the nobles and chief ministers to go and drink with Bo Zhao, hoping that Bo Zhao would be convinced to do away with himself, but Bo Zhao was unwilling. Thus Emperor Wen resorted to having his ministers dress in mourning clothes and go to see Bo Zhao while weeping for him. Bo Zhao thus killed himself.

〈引分,猶言引決也。〉

(By "do away with himself", the passage means to kill himself.)


將軍薄昭有罪自殺。(Records of Former Han 8, Annals of Emperor Wen)

The general Bo Zhao committed a crime and took his own life.


臣光曰︰李德裕以爲︰「漢文帝誅薄昭,斷則明矣,於義則未安也。秦康送晉文,興如存之感;況太后尚存,唯一弟薄昭,斷之不疑,非所以慰母氏之心也。」臣愚以爲法者天下之公器,惟善持法者,親疏如一,無所不行,則人莫敢有所恃而犯之也。夫薄昭雖素稱長者,文帝不爲置賢師傅而用之典兵;驕而犯上,至於殺漢使者,非有恃而然乎!若又從而赦之,則與成、哀之世何異哉!魏文帝嘗稱漢文帝之美,而不取其殺薄昭,曰︰「舅后之家,但當養育以恩而不當假借以權,旣觸罪法,又不得不害。」譏文帝之始不防閑昭也,斯言得之矣。然則欲慰母心者,將愼之於始乎!

3. Your servant Sima Guang remarks: Li Deyu of the Tang dynasty said of this incident, "When it came to Emperor Wen of Han's execution of Bo Zhao, I will allow that it was wise in terms of enforcing the law. Yet I cannot consider it a righteous action. After all, there was that occasion that inspired the Weiyang poem from the Book of Poetry where, when Duke Kang of Qin escorted his uncle Duke Wen of Jin to the north side of the Wei River to bid him farewell, Duke Kang was so moved by emotion because Duke Wen reminded him of his late mother, who had been Duke Wen's sister. If Duke Kang felt such grief about his mother although she had already been dead for some time, how much more would Emperor Wen's mother Lady Bo have lamented the loss of her only brother Bo Zhao? So although I do not doubt Emperor Wen's resolve, I cannot say that his action soothed his mother's heart."

Now foolish though I may be, still it seems to me that the law is something that must be applied impartially to all. If the law is to be maintained well, there can be no distinction between one's close relations and other people, none to whom it does not apply. When that is the case, then no one will dare to violate the law while presuming their status will save them. As for Bo Zhao, although he had always been considered a good man, the error that Emperor Wen committed was to not assign worthy instructors to tutor him, but instead left him in charge of military affairs. This made Bo Zhao conceited enough to think that he could act with impunity, to the extent that he even killed a Han messenger. If this is not arrogance, what is? And if, having allowed things to come to this state, Emperor Wen appeased Bo Zhao and pardoned him, then how would he have been any different than his descendants Emperor Cheng or Emperor Ai, who were completely at the mercy of their maternal relatives?

Though Emperor Wen of Cao-Wei (Cao Pi) was always extolling Emperor Wen's excellent qualities, he too faulted Emperor Wen for having killed Bo Zhao. But his reasoning was, "Emperor Wen ought to have cultivated and nurtured a gracious spirit in his uncle instead of lending him power and authority. For when Bo Zhao went so far as to break the law, Emperor Wen was thus left with no choice but to kill him."

Now that is a valid criticism of Emperor Wen, for not having guarded against having to punish Bo Zhao from the beginning. But we must be cautious against condoning such justifications as "soothing a mother's heart"!

〈《詩‧小序》曰︰秦康公之母,晉獻公之女。文公遭驪姬之難,未反而秦姬卒。穆公納文公,康公時爲太子,贈送文公于渭之陽;念母之不見也,我見舅氏,如母存焉。〉

(Li Deyu refers to the Weiyang poem in the Book of Poetry. The notes to that poem state, "The mother of Duke Kang of Qin was the daughter of Duke Xian of Jin. When Chong'er, who later became Duke Wen of Jin, had fled Jin to escape the machinations of Duke Xian's concubine Consort Li, he had not yet returned to Jin before his sister in Qin passed away. Duke Mu of Qin later agreed to shelter Chong'er; at that time, Duke Mu of Qin was still the Crown Prince of Qin. He wrote this poem when he escorted Chong'er to the north side of the Wei River, saying, 'Although I regret I can no longer see my mother, when I see you, Uncle, it is like my mother is still alive.'")
Last edited by Taishi Ci 2.0 on Thu Feb 20, 2020 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."
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Re: BOOK 14

Unread postby Kongde » Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:51 am

Taishi Ci 2.0 wrote:九年(庚午、前一七一)

The Ninth Year of Emperor Wen's Reign (The Gengwu or Metal Horse Year, 171 BC)


春,大旱。

1. In the spring, there was drought.

Sounds like an eventful year
?-Kongde-?
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