For whom did it come? The form of the book further bears out this supposition. It is worthwhile there- fore to examine in detail the elements of this masterpiece of form and see how they work. Kao-tsu, reviving the feudal system which the Ch'in had abolished, granted fiefs both to his followers and to his relatives. The first is the obvious one: that the historian wished to avoid relating in detail the same incident in two or three places. He was a hero-worshipper who devoted much of his life to writing of the heroes of the past, while in his own day he saw the old freedoms, the old personal loyalties, being stifled by an ever-growing bureaucracy and a net of petty and exacting laws. Cheng Ch'iao 1108-1166 , another Sung historian who produced a monu- mental history of the past modeled on the Shih chi form, argues in the preface to his work that the history of a single dynasty is meaningless and without value unless it is seen in terms of the eras which preceded and produced it. Sima's work influenced the writing style of other histories outside of China as well, such as the Korean history the.
Xiang Yu, receiving word that Han Xin had already conquered the area north of theYellow River, defeating Qi and Zhao, and was about to attack Chu, sent Long Ju to attack him. In the Han army there was a man who was very skilful at shooting from horseback, a so-called loufan. For over ten days they continued on combat with the Shan-yü. The age of Confucius was certainly such a period of decline and chaos. But Ch'ien's imitation of the Annals does not end with this statement. His success, however, was shortlived, and rebellion brought his death and the restoration of the Liu family to the throne in 25 A. I am the only one who has a boat, so that when the Han army arrives they will have no way to get across! It has often been pointed out by Western scholars that the attempts of the commentaries to discover these subtle moral judgments, particularly in the exact wording of the chronicle, generally end in confusion, contra- diction, and sheer absurdity.
Ssu-ma Chien initiated a remarkable tradition of historical writing. Parts of this literature, such as the songs of the Odes, sections of the Documents, and the Spring and Autumn Annals, undoubtedly represent earlier writings. If we are to consider it as a prototype of biographical writing and it is certainly one step in that direction , we might go farther back and consider the Mencius and Analects, which do not differ basically from it in form, as similar prototypes. His constant care was to sacrifice himself for his country, hastening in time without thought for his own safety. He proceeds to the story of Po I and Shu Ch'i, two men of ancient times praised by Confucius for the fact that they did not bear grudges.
The superior man hates the thought of his name not being mentioned after his death. It is hardly necessary to remark at this point that his interest was not in just any individual. His solu- tion was hailed as a masterpiece of creation, and quickly became the model for the main tradition of later Chinese historical writing. Yet within five years he was dead and his kingdom lost. The king of Han secretly sent someone to find out who the new challenger was, and when he learned that it was Xiang Yu himself he was greatly astonished. In his history he is careful to note the degree to which various peripheral and non-Chinese peoples conform to pure Chinese ways, for this was the criterion by which their place in the hierarchy of mankind could be judged. .
But these remarks, viewed in their context, seem to indicate no more than the existence of local accents and dialect words. Sima Qian sought out stories from those who might have closer knowledge of certain historical events, using them as sources to balance the reliability and accuracy of historical records. Ssu-ma Ch'ien's concept o his- tory was essentially poetic and these omens and wonders where often his symbols. The Han Confucianist Tung Chung-shu 179-104 B. This new Han differed in many ways from the old one.
All of these works except the Genealogical Origins Shih pen and the Spring and Autumn of Ch'u and Han Ch'u-Han ch'un-ch'iu are still extant. The governor consented, and Xiang Liang sent for Xiang Yu to come in. And if a man hopes to win success and establish a lasting family, he cannot afford to confuse them! Then he returned and sat down again with the governor. The difficulty is that Ch'ien is seldom consistent in his avowal of any belief. In 576, six years after their mar- riage, Kung died and was succeeded by his son Ch'eng, who became Duke P'ing. A third would list vice-presidents and important cabinet ministers with dates of office in relation to the various presidents.
When the Ch'in assumed full control of the nation, it de- stroyed all these chronicles because they contained deprecatory refer- ences, preserving only its own chronicle of Ch'in. But if one could rise rapidly by good luck and his own efforts, he could just as rapidly fall from power when his luck changed. For Ssu-ma Ch'ien felt that the facts of history, recorded just as he found them, told a story sufficiently interesting and instructive. Brief nota- tions of the move of the Chou capital to the east, the beginning of the ascendency of Ch'in, the death of Confucius, or the destruction of Wu, serve to punctuate the history of each little principality and remind one of the progress of greater changes beyond its borders that will eventually affect its whole existence. Emperor Yii, founder of the Hsia dynasty, was a great-great-grandson of the Yellow Emperor, while the rulers of the Ch'in dynasty were descended from Emperor Chuan Hsu, a grandson of the Yellow Emperor. The Shih chi is not, of course, primarily the statement of a single school of thought, as are the other works that are rougly contemporary with it, the Huai-nan Tzu, the Ch'un-ch'iu fan-lu or the Yen-t'ieh~lun.
Her suicide is an act of self-sacrifice to grant fame to another. Parables were sometimes used in China, as they were later to be used in the teach- ings of Jesus. We know nothing about his wife, but he seems to have had only one child, a daughter. We must be constantly wary of this tendency in Chinese thought, for it has led to the transformation of any number of legendary figures and events into what appears to be sober historical truth. The exception is the modern scholar Ts'ui Shih, author of the Shih- chi t'an-yuan, who insists that any material dealing with events later than 123 in the Shih ch'i is an interpolation.