Saturday, 9 February 2008

Shiji 1 - Reign of the five Emperors

Shiji – Chapter 1 – First reign – The five emperors

The Yellow Emperor was a son of the lord of Shaodian. His surname was Gongsun, his given name Xuanyuan. Since birth, he had a prodigious spirit. In his childhood, he could discourse. In his youth, his mind was swift. In adulthood, his intelligence developed. At old age, he was clairvoyant.

In the time of Xuanyuan, the House of Lord Shennong had grown weak. Feudal princes fought together and invaded each other, and brutalised their people. Yet the House of Shennong could not correct them. Xuanyuan therefore learned to use weapons, in order to punish those who did not sacrifice to the emperor. All feudal princes rallied him, except for Chiyou, the most violent of them, whom no one dare attack. When the Fiery Emperor tried to invade and oppress the feudal princes, they all joined Xuanyuan. He then cultivated virtue and prepared his weapons. He calmed the five climates, planted the five cereals, ruled over all peoples, and travelled in the four orients. He tamed black and white bears, panthers and leopards, hyenas and tigers, and led them fight the Fiery Emperor in the plain of Banquan. There, he fought three battles, and finally his will was done. But Chiyou rebelled, and dismissed imperial orders. The Yellow Emperor then gathered the armies of all feudal princes, and battled Chiyou in the plain of Zhuolu, taking him prisoner and killing him. Thus, all feudal princes recognised Xuanyuan as the Son of Heaven, and had him replace the House of Shennong, as the Yellow Emperor. If, under heavens, anyone lacked respect, the Yellow Emperor would chase and punish him. Once they submitted, he would leave them. He tore mountains to open roads, and toiled with no rest.

He travelled east to the sea, and climbed mount Wan and mount Daizong. He travelled west to Kongtong, and ascended mount Jitou. He travelled south to the Changjiang, and ascended mount Xiong and Xiang. He travelled north, chased the Xunyu, assembled the jade tablets of the feudal princes on mount Fu, and built his capital on the plain of Zhuolu. As he always travelled, never stopping anywhere, his palace was a camp guarded by soldiers. His officers wore emblems depicting clouds, and were therefore called the army of clouds. He established members of his household as governors, and charged them to rule all states. The states were in peace,and sacrifices to ghosts and spirits, to mountains and seas, to heaven and earth were made in greater number than before. He had precious tripods forged, established a calendar, and used divinatory sticks. He elevated Fenghou, Limu, Changxian and Dahong, and entrusted them with the government of his people. He followed the laws of heaven and earth, the contrast between shadow and light, the respect due to life and death, the opposition between creation and destruction. When it was the time, he sowed all grains, plants and trees, he bred birds and beasts, worms and flies, all around, he ordered the sun moon and stars, the rivers and lakes, the earth and stone, the meatl and the jade. He toiled with his heart, his arms, his ears and his eyes, and defined the use of water, fire, wood and all material. He had the virtue of earth, and was therefore called the Yellow Emperor.

The Yellow Emperor had twenty five sons, and fourteen of them established clans (litt. Were granted surnames).

The Yellow Emperor lived on the hill of Xuanyuan. He took for his wife a princess of Xiling, who assumed the title of Leizu, and became his first spouse. She gave birth to two sons, the descendents of which both ruled the empire. The first one was named Xuanxiao. He became the lord of Qingyang, and conquered and settled in the region of the Changjiang. The second was named Changyi, he conquered and settled in the basin of river Ruo. Changyi took for his wife a daughter of the ruler of Shushan, named Changpu. She gave birth to Gaoyang, who was the most saint and virtuous of all. When the Yellow Emperor died, he was buried on mount Qiao. His grandson, Gaoyang, the son of Changyi, was crowned and became Emperor Zhuanxu.

Gaoyang, Emperor Zhuanxu, was a grand son of the Yellow Emperor and the son of Changyi. He was calm and profound in his deliberations. He had a sharp intelligence, and a great experience. He cultivated plants, and therefore served the earth. He followed the rhythm of seasons, and thus was like the heavens. He deferred to ghosts and spirits, and therefore ruled righteously, he controlled all passions in order to educate and reform. He was pure and honest, and thus conducted sacrifices. He travelled north to Youling (the dark hill), south to Jiaozhi, west to Liusha (the shifting sands), and east to Panmu (the crooked tree). All creatures, living or inanimate, all spirits great or small, under the light of the sun or the moon, every one improved and submitted to him.

Emperor Zhuanxu had a son named Qiongchan. When Zhuanxu died, the grandson of Xuanxiao, Gaoxin, was crowned as Emperor Ku.

Emperor Ku, Gaoxin, was a great grandson of the Yellow Emperor. His father was named Jiaoji, and the father of Jiaoji was Xuanxiao, who was the son of the Yellow Emperor. Neither Xuanxiao nor Jiaoji were granted the throne, but Gaoxin, in the end, was made the emperor. Gaoxin was therefore a parent of Zhuanxu.

Since birth, Gaoxin had a prodigious spirit. He could speak his name. He always acted in the interest of all creatures, and never in his own. His ears were keen, and could perceive what is far, yet his eyes were sharp, and could see what is hidden. He deferred to the justice of heaven, yet he knew the suffering of the people. He was generous, yet imposing, kind, yet honest. He cultivated virtue, and all under heavens followed him. He took the riches of earth, and defined their use. He governed and taught all the people, and benefited from their knowledge. He calculated the movement of the sun and the moon, to accompany their course. He observed ghosts and demons, and took care to sacrifice to them. His face was full of elegance, his virtue was immense. His actions were like the seasons, his robe was that of a scholar. Emperor Ku always stood in the middle, and thus ruled the world. All that the sun and moon lit, all that the wind and rain touched, every one followed him.

Emperor Ku had taked as his wife a daughter of the lord of Chenfeng. She gave birth to a son named Fangxun. He then married a daughter of the lord of Juzi, who gave birth to a son named Zhi. When Emperor Ku died, Zhi replaced him on the throne, but after Emperor Zhi was crowned, he was struck by ill fortune (and died). His younger brother, Fangxun was crowned, and became Emperor Yao.

Emperor Yao was Fangxun. His generosity was like Heaven’s, his wisdom was like a god’s. When one came close to him, he was like the sun. When one looked at him, he was like clouds. He was rich, yet not proud, noble yet not self-conscious. He wore a yellow cap and a black robe, and rode in a red chariot drawn by white horses. He could display and teach virtue, and used it to befriend all peoples. When all peoples were in peace, he organised them into one hundred families. And when the virtue of the hundred families shone, peace reigned in all states.

Then, he ordered Xi and He to respectfully follow the Great Heaven, to calculate the laws of the sun, the moon, the stars and the zodiac, in order to explain the seasons to the people. Besides, he ordered Xi the second to settle in Yuyi, in the place called the valley of sunrise. There, he took care to record the rising of the sun, and organised the work to be begun in spring. When days have average length, and when the Bird star is in the sky, this is the middle of spring. Then the people disperse, and birds and beasts breed. He ordered Xi the third to settle in Nanjiao, to organise the work to be done in summer, and to take care that they be known. When the days are longest, and when the Fire star is in the sky, this is the middle of summer. The people work together, and the hides of birds and beasts are bald. He ordered He the second to settle in Xitu, in the place called the valley of sunset. There, he took care to record the setting of the sun, and organised the work to be completed in autumn. When the nights are of average length, and the the Xu star in the sky, this is the middle of autumn. The people is in peace, and birds and beasts renew their hide. Then he ordered He the third to settle in Beifang, in the place called the dark capital, and organised what is to be done when people hide inside their homes. When the days are the shortest, and when the star Ang is in the sky, this is the middle of winter. The people is warm, and beasts and animals have marrowy hides. A year had three hundred and sixty six day, and intercalary months were added to correct the four seasons. According to their loyalty, he established his officers, and the merits of all grew greater.

Yao said : « Who could continue my works ? » Fangqi said : « Danzhu, your heir, has an open and clear mind.” Yao said: “Alas! He is ignorant and cruel, I will not use him.” Yao said again: “Who could?” Huandou said: “All around, everybody sings the praises of Gonggong, you could use him.” Yao said: “Gonggong makes nice speeches, but fails when one uses him. He seems polite, yet he even despises heaven. He cannot be use.” Yao said again: “Alas, four peaks (ministers), the waters of a great flood have risen and reach the sky, they encircle the mountains and cover the hills, and all the people is in grief. Is there someone I can entrust with this?” All said Gun could. Yao said: “Gun disobeys my orders, and criticises the clans, he cannot.” The peaks (ministers) said: “Enough! Try him, and if he cannot be use, then stop.” Yao then listened to his ministers and employed Gun. Nine years later, his works had not succeeded.

Yao said : « Alas, four peaks, I have been on the throne for seventy years. If you can follow my orders, can you not succeed me ? » The ministers answered: “our lowly virtue would dishonour the imperial throne.” Yao said: “Present me with someone, be him from a noble family, or a remote and unknown one.” All of them told Yao: “there is, among the people, and old bachelor named Yushun.”Yao said: “Yes, I have heard of him. How is he?” The ministers said: “He is the son of a blind man. His father was stupid, his mother was crooked, his younger brother was arrogant, yet he was so pious that he could live in peace with them. They gradually mended their ways, and did not fall into vice.” Yao said: “I will try him.” Then, he gave him his two daughters in marriage, to see how virtuous he was with the two of them. Shun settled the two daughters in Guirui, and treated them as married women should. Yao appreciated this, and ordered Shun to conform himself to the five codes of ancient kings. Again, Shun could follow them. He then let him serve in the one hundred offices, and he practiced all of them, one after the other. He sent him greet his guests, at the four doors of the capital, and he served there with good grace. Feudal princes and guests from afar were all treated with respect. Then, Yao sent Shun through mountains and forests, through rivers and marshes, through tempests and thunderstorms. Shun obeyed, and never was troubled. Thus, Yao realised he was a saint. He summoned Shun and said: “Your projects succeed, and your speeches are followed with acts. You have served me for three years, you shall now ascend the imperial throne.” Shun protested that his virtue was not sufficient. Yet, on the first day of the first month, Shun finally accepted, in the temple of Wenzu. Wenzu was the great ancestor of Yao.

Then, Emperor Yao was old. He ordered Shun to replace him and take over the government of the Son of Heaven, and to observe the decrees of Heaven. Shun thus used a red jade sphere with a jade ruler, to determine the movement of the seven celestial bodies (the sun, moon and five first planets). He then made offerings to the Celestial Emperor, he offered sacrifices to the six venerable ancestors, and he prayed to the mountains and rivers, and bowed to all spirits. He collected the five jade tablets, selected a propitious month and day, assembled his four ministers and all the governors of his provinces, and gave them the tablets. The next year, the second month, he travelled east and visited the domains of the feudal princes. As he reached Mount Daizong, he lit a pyre, offered a sacrifice, and gave the prescribed offerings to mountains and rivers. Then, he gave an audience to the lords and elders of the eastern lands. He ordered seasons and months, and corrected days, unified the measures of length, of weight, and of capacity, codified the five ceremonies, the offerings of five pieces of jade, three pieces of silk, two living and one dead animals made during visits. He ordered that the five pieces of jade be given, but returned at the end of the ceremony. In the fifth month, he visited the southern domains, in the eighth month, he travelled west, and in the eleventh month he went north. Each of those visits were like the first one. On his way back, he went to the temple of his ancestors and his father, and paid them respect by offering a bull. Every five years, he went once on an inspection journey, and his vassals came four times to his court audiences. He knew all about them from their speeches, promoted and tried them according to their deeds, and gave them chariots and robes according to their merits. He established twelve provinces, and rectified the course of rivers. He published the punishments prescribed by ancient codes, exiled and pardoned the five class of criminals. The whip became the punishment of courts, the cane the punishment of schools, and corporal punishment could be bought off with gold. Involuntary or accidental offences were pardoned. Deliberate or repetitive crimes were punished. All was obedience ! And peace through the fear of punishment !

When Huandou had suggested Gonggong, Yao had said he could succeed him, and had tried him as his chief of craftsmen. But finally, Gonggong proved to be depraved and treacherous. When the four ministers had suggested that Gun be employed to tame the great flood, Yao had considered he could not, but the ministers had strongly insisted that he be tried, so he had been, and had proven incapable. For this reason, the people was not at ease. South of the Changjiang, and in the province of Jing, the Sanmiao revolted several times. Then, Shun returned to the capital, and addressed the emperor. He demanded that Gonggong be banned to Youling, where he became a northern Di. Huandou was exiled to mount Chong, where he became a southern Man, the Sanmiao were deported to Sanwei, where they became western Rong, and Gun was banned to mount Yu, where he became an eastern Yi. After these four were punished, under heaven, all submitted.

Yao had been on the throne for seventy years when he found Shun. Twenty years later, he was old, and ordered Shun to take over the government of the Son of Heaven, presenting him to Heaven. Yao had stepped aside for twenty eight years when he passed away. The people were grieved, as if they were mourning their parents. For three years, in the four orients, no one dare play music, in memory of Yao. Yao was aware that his son, Danzhu, was not like him, and could not inherit the empire. So, he had decided to pass it to Shun. If he gave it to Shun, all under heaven would benefit from it, only Danzhu would be sad. If he gave it to Danzhu, all under heaven would suffer from it, only Danzhu would benefit. Yao said: “One shall not, when he died, make al under heaven sad, for the sole benefit of one man,” and he gave the empire to Shun. When Yao died, once the three years of mourning ended, Shun ceded the throne to Danzhu and fled south the South River. But when the feudal princes came to court audiences, they did not go to Danzhu but to Shun. Litigants did not come to Danzhu, but to Shun. And the people did not sing the praises of Danzhu, but of Shun. Shun said: “Heaven ordered it.” After this, he returned to the central kingdoms, and, there, he ascended the throne of the son of heaven, becoming Emperor Shun.

Yushun was named Chonghua. The father of Chonghua was Gusou, his father was Qiaoniu. The father of Qiaoniu was Baowang, whose father was Jingkang. The father of Jingkang was Qiongchan who was a son of Emperor Zhuanxu, the son of Changyi. From Changyi to Shun, there were seven generations. But from Qiongchan to Emperor Shun, all of them were lowly commoners.

The father of Shun, Gusou, was blind, and his mother had died. Gusou then remarried, and had a son named Xiang, who was arrogant. Gusou preferred the son of his second wife, and often intended to kill Shun, who managed to escape. Every time he made a small error, he was punished. Yet he went on serving his father, his stepmother and his brother. Everyday, he paid them the utmost attention, never relaxing.

Shun was a native of Jizhou. He tilled on mount Li, fished in lake Lei, shaped pots on the banks of the Yellow River, made tools in Shouqiu, and saw the seasons pass in Fuxia. His father, Gusou, was stupid, his mother was crooked, and his brother, Xiang, was arrogant. They all wanted to kill him. Yet Shun went on behaving righteously, never departing from his duties as a son and the respect and care brothers owe each other. They had tried to kill him, and failed, but when they asked help from him, he always was on their side.

Shun was twenty when his piety became known. When he was thirty, emperor Yao asked who he could use (to replace him). All four ministers recommended Yushun, and he accepted. Then Shun gave him his two daughters to marry, to see how he behaved privately, and sent his nine sons to live with him, to see how he acted in society. Shun settled in Guirui, and proved caring in all private matters. The two daughters of Yao dare not be haughty or arrogant when they serve the family of Shun, and proved to be virtuous spouses. His nine sons all became more generous. When Shun tilled on mount Li, all the people there left each other some space at the border of their fields. When he fished in lake Lei, all people on the lake yielded some space to others. When he made clay pots on the bank of the Yellow River, all pots made there were of good quality. After a year, his house had become a village. After two years, it was a city, and after three years it became a capital. Then, Yao offered Shun embroidered clothes, and gave him a zither. He had a public granary built for him, and offered oxen and sheep. But Gusou still intended to kill Shun. He sent him on the granary, to coat it with mortar, and, from below, lit a fire to burn the granary. But Shun used two rush shields to protect himself and go down. He fled and avoided death. Later, Gusou sent Shun dig a well. While he did so, Shun managed a hidden exit on the side of the well. When Shun went in to plumb the well, Gusou and Xiang both threw earth and filled it. Shun went out through the hidden exit, and fled. But Gusou and Xiang believed that Shun had died. Xiang said: “I was the one who thought of this plan.” And when he shared the belongings of Yu with his parents, he said: “Yao gave Shun his two daughters in marriage, and offered him a zither. I, Xiang, will take them. The oxen, the sheep and the granary, I will give to my parents.” Thus, Xiang took over the house of Shun, and lived there, playing his zither. When Shun came back, and visited him, Xiang made a sad face and said: “I was thinking of you, and were so desperate!” Shun said: “Yes, you are a good person!” And Shun reverted to serving Gusou and loving his brother, proving careful in every thing. Then Yao tried Shun on the five codes and the hundred offices. He handled all of them.

In the past, Lord Gaoyang had eight talented sons. Over time, their families became famous, and were called them “the victorious eight”. Lord Gaoxin had eight talented sons, whose families were known as “the Magnificent Eight”. Over the generations, these sixteen families grew in fame, never letting their name fall. But in the end, Yao could not promote them. Shun employed the victorious eight, and send them rule the land and organise the farm works. Everything was done in due time. He then promoted the magnificent eight, sending them teach the five learnings in all countries, and fathers were righteous, mothers were caring, elder were friendly, brothers were polite, sons were pious, houses were in peace, and the land was prosperous.

In the past, the Dihong clan had a talentless son, who shunned justice and protected criminals. He enjoyed behaving cruelly and hiding his vices, and all in the empire called him Hundun (chaos). The Shaohao clans had a worthless son, who broke his promises and contempted honesty. He admired deceptions and bad words, and all in the empired called him Qiongqi (talentless). The Zhuanxu clan had a talentless son who could neither be taught nor improved. He could not talk or debate, and all in the empire called him Taowu (Confused). Over the years, the three clans had always tolerated them. After Yao was enthroned, he could not get rid of them. The Jinyun clan had a talentless son, who revelled in drink and food, and was greedy for riches and treasures. All in the empire called him Taotie (greedy and covetous). All hated him, and he was like the three cruels. When Shun was in charge of greeting guests at the four doors of the capital, he exiled the families of the four cruels, and banned them to the borderlands, to rule over the demons of mountains and forests, and then, the four doors were open, and not one talked about cruel people.

Shun went to the forests on the foot of mountains, but neither the violent winds, nor the thunder and rain, troubled him. Yao therefore knew that Shun could rule the empire. When Yao was old, he ordered Shun to take over the government of the son of heaven, and to make inspections in the lands ruled by feudal princes. Shun had been promoted and employed for twenty years when Yao entrusted him with the government. Eight years later, Yao died. After three years of mourning, he ceded the throne to Danzhu, but finally, the empire returned to Shun. And the families of Yu, Gaoyao, Xie, Houji, Boyi, Kui, Long, Chui, Yi and Pengzu all began to be used in the time of Shun, before public offices were granted. Then Shun went to see Wenzu, he discussed with the four Peaks, he opened the four doors, and understood and related to all eyes and ears in the four orients. He ordered the twelve herdsmen to discuss imperial virtue, he ruled with generosity and benevolence, he kept flattery afar, and thus all barbarians submitted to him. Shun told the four peaks: “Is there someone who could strive to improve the works of Yao, who could lead the officials, and assist me in my works?” They replied: “If the Elder Yu was the minister of construction, he could improve the imperial works.” Shun said: “It shall be so! Yu, you will control the waters and lands, let this be your task.”Yu prosterned and bowed his head. Then he wanted to cede his place to Ji, Xie, and Gaoyao. But Shun said: “So shall it be, go!” Then he said: “Qi, the black headed people is becoming hungry. You will be the minister of agriculture, and sow all seeds at the right moment.” Then he said: “Xie, the hundred families are not kind, the five family relations are not peaceful, you will be my minister of education, you will strive to spread the five teachings, which will make them generous.” Then, he said: “Gaoyao, the Man and Yi trouble the civilised people, there are brigands and criminals, bandits from outside, and rebels from inside, you will be my minister of justice. The five punishments will correspond to faults. There will be five categories of faults, and three places where they are punished. The five exiles will have degrees, and these five degrees will correspond to three regions of deportation. In this, only your clarity of mind can inspire confidence.” Shun said: “who can I entrust with crafts?” All said Chui could, and he was made the head of craftsmen. Shun then said: “Who can I entrust with the high and the low, woods and plants, birds and beasts?” All said Yi could. Therefore, Yi was made inspector of forests. Yi prosterned himself and bowed his head, and wanted to cede his office to two other vassals, Zhuhu and Xiongpi. But Shun said : “Go, you are worthy of this.” Then, he made Zhuhu and Xiongpi his assistants. Shun then said: “Now, four peaks, who could order my three rites?” All said Boyi could, and Shun said: “Now Boyi, I will charge you to make offerings to each, according to their dignity, to keep watch from morning to night, and to just remain in peace.” Boyi ceded his place to Kui and Long, but Shun said: “Thus, let Kui be in charge of music and of teaching the young, for he is righteous yet good, generous yet imposing, strong yet not violent, great yet not arrogant. Let poems speak one’s mind, let songs extend speech, let sounds be like eternity, and let tones be united in sounds. When the eight instruments are in harmony, and none goes out of her natural place, then men and spirits are in harmony.” Kui said: “Oh! If I strike, if I stroke, the musical stones, all beasts start dancing.” Shun said: “Long, I fear and loathe slanders and speeches which attack and deceive, they frighten my people. I will make you minister of speech, from morning to evening you will circulate my decrees, and you just need to be honest.” Shun said: “Oh! You, twenty two persons, keep watch, because you, in due time, will handle heavenly matters.”Every three years, their merits were examined, and after three examinations, they would be promoted or demoted. Among the man people who lived close or far, all those who had valour were promoted. They were sent north, to the Sanmiao.

These twenty two men all perfected their talents. Gaoyao was the great judge, he was even, and in the people, everyone would humbly receive his sentences. Boyi ruled over rites, and from all levels in society yielded to each other. Chui ruled over craftsmen, and all crafts reached perfection. Yi governed the inspectors of water and forest, and mountains and ponds were perfect. Qi ruled over crops, and all cereals were ripe in their time. Xie ruled over instruction, and the families were caring and peaceful. Long governed the visitors, and people came from afar. The twelve pastors did their work, and in the nine provinces, no one dare transgress the rules. Yu was the worthiest of them all. He cut the nine mountains, made channels between the nine lakes, dredged the nine rivers, and pacified the nine provinces. Each would give him tribute according to his rank, yet, he did not lose measure. Over a territory five thousand leagues wide, which reached to the wastelands, to the south, he submitted Jiaozhi, Beifa, Western Rong, Xizhi, Di, Qiang, Rongs of Beishan, Xishen, Dongchang, Niaoyi. Inside the four seas, all praised the merits of emperor Shun. Then, Yu had the nine Songs of Zhao composed, brought extraordinary objects. Dragons and phoenixes came flying around him. In the empire intelligence and virtue really began with Yu.

Shun was twenty when his piety became known. At thirty, Yao promoted him. He was fifty when he took over the rule of the Son of Heaven, and fifty eight when Yao died. He replaced Yao and ascended the imperial throne at sixty one. After thirty nine years on the throne, he made an inspection journey in the south, and died in the deserts of Cangwu. He was buried in Jiuyi, in the Jiangnan, which was renamed as Jiling. As Shun stepped on the imperial throne, he took the banner of the son of heaven and paid a visit to his father, Gusou, showing some fear and only respect, as is fitting for a son. He enfeoffed his brother, Xiang, and made him a feudal prince/ But his son, Shangjun, was not as worthy as he was, and Shun had intended to propose Yu to Heaven. He died seventeen years later, and after three years of mourning, Yu ceded the throne to the son of Shun, as Shun had done with the son of Yao. But feudal princes brought him back, and, afterwards, Yu stepped on the imperial throne. The son of Yao was Danzhu, the son the Shun was Shangjun. Both were given territories, so that they could do sacrifices to their ancestors. They wore their own clothese, and had their own rites and music. The visited the son of Heaven as guests, and the son of Heaven never made them vassals, showing that he did not want to appropriate them.

From the Yellow Emperor to Shun and Yu, all emperors had the same surname, and differed by the title of their kingdom, which reflected their virtue. Thus, the Yellow Emperor was Youxiong, Emperor Zhuanxu was Gaoyang, Emperor Ku was Gaoxin Emperor Yao was Taotang and Emperor Shun was Youyu. Emperor Yu established the Xia emperors, and took different names. He assumed the surname Si. Xie established the Shang, and assumed the surname Zi. Qi established the Zhou, and assumed the surname Ji.

Commentary by Sima Qian : « Scholars have often talked about the five emperors, but this is very ancient. Thus, the Book of Documents only records events posterior to Yao. Even when scholars of the one hundred schools discuss the Five Emperors, their works are imprecise, so literate people and scholars have difficulty talking of them. The Virtue of the Five Emperor and Names and lineages of the Emperors, which Confucius transmitted to Zai Yuwen, some scholars think they were not transmitted. But I have travelled west to Kongtong, crossed Zhuolu to the north, reached the sea to the east, and in the south navigated on the Long River and the Huai, and now, as I am old, I have been to all these places which bear the name of the Yellow Emperor, Yao and Shun, And traditions and teaching have certainly been separated, and reuniting them would mean departing from ancient texts. I have read the Spring and Autumns Annals and the Discourse of the States. Their explanations on the Virtue of the Five Emperors and the Names and lineages of the Emperors are clear, but they have not been deeply researched, yet what they present is not false. The Book of Documents shows several defects, but the fact it omitted can be found here and there in other teachings. Should one not like study, or ponder deeply, should feelings lead one’s mind, it is surely difficult to find order in these superficial descriptions and these scattered rumours. I united them, discussing each one, I chose from the best commentaries, and thus compiled them in the beginning of my books of reigns.

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