restricted access Shih chi 127, the Symbiosis of Two Historians
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Shih chi 127, the Symbiosis 01 Two Historians ηmoteus Pokora lntroduction In my forthcoming book 'Ch'u Shao-sun 褚少孫一 the Third Author of the Shih chi', 1 intend to present studies and annotated translations of those chapters of the Shih chi 史記 which have not yet been translated at al1 and especial1y in which the texts of Ch'u Shao-sun (c.105-c.30 B.C.) are appended to those of Ssu-ma Ch'ien 司馬遷 (c.145-c.87 B.C.). A preliminary account of this uncommon personality was given in my study 'Ch'u Shao-sun - the Narrator of Stories in the Shih chi', Annali dell' Istituto Orientale di NIαpoli, 40 (1981), 1-28. Here 1deal with Shih chi 127, one of the shorter chapters. In Chinese it is entitled very simply 'Jih-che 日者, (The Dayists) which, for the sake of correct understanding, we have to render as 'the diviners of lucky and unlucky days' (for the explication of the difference between \州atson's and my translation of this title, see below). The first translation is due to my countryman August Pfizmaier, who has published 'Sse-ma Ki-tsch泣, der Wahrsager von Tschang-an', Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-Hist. Klasse 37 (1861), pp. 408-19. Much more accessible is the translation of Burton Watson, 'The Biographies of the Diviners of Lucky Days' in his The Records of the Grand Historian of China: Translated from the Shih chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien, 2 vols. (New York and London, 1961), 11, 468-75 [hereafter, Records], published just one hundred years after Pfizmaier's study. Why should one offer a new translation when that of Watson, also in English, is very readable and quite exact? Generally, because, while presenting the literary qualities of Ssu-ma Ch'ien's texts, the amount of actual information derived from the foregoing translation is considerably 215 Timoteus Pokora less. Furthermore, Watson does not translate and does not deal with what he cal1s 'notes ... added by Ch'u Shao-sun' (p. 468, note 1), not even from the literary point of view. After al1, this is his prerogative since, as stated in the title of his book, he deals only with the texts of Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Although 1do not find any contradiction between the so-cal1ed scholarly and literary translations, since both may be appropriate in their own fashion, 1 myself prefer to fol1ow the ways laid down by such scholars as E. Chavannes, D. Bodde, H. H. Dubs, and Y. Hervouet. Translation Chapter 127: The Diviners 01 Lucky and Unlucky Days (Jih-che) 2* From antiquity those who had received the mandate became kings. How many times did they not use the divination by the tortoise-shel1 and by the stalks of yarrow to decide upon Heaven's mandate! This was very frequent under the Chou dynasty and it could be seen during the Ch'in too. The entering (of the court) by the King of Tai 代 was entrusted to the diviner with tortoise-shel1. 1 The (office of the) Great Augur eχisted from the beginning of the Han dynasty.2 Ssu-ma Chi-chu 司馬季主 3 was a man from Ch'u 楚4 3 who practiced * The numbers in bold italics refer to the chapter pagination of the Takigawa Kametarδ edition of the Shih chi. Emperor Wen 文, formerly King of Tai, ascended the throne on November 16, 180 B.C. See Homer H. Dubs, History of the Former Han Dynasty by Pan Ku, 3 vols. (Baltimore, 1937-55), I, 231; hereafter, Dubs, Former Han. 2 The So-yin states: The Office of the Great Augur (t'ai-pu 太卡) is mentioned in the Chou-li 周禮(lnstitutions of Chou]. Here it is stated that it originated at the beginning of the Han. This means that, after the divining with the Great Transversal (ta-heng 大街) during (the reign of) Emperor Wen, the office of the Augur was reestablished and was prosperous.' Cf. Chou-li, pp. 66-8 [Edouard L. Biot, Le Tcheou-li (Paris, 1851), I, 69-85]. The Cheng-yi: 'By divining with the tortoise-shells Han Emperor Wen obtained the Great Transversal and his divination was the same as that of Ch'i of the Hsia (dynasty). Then he rode with six riding chariots and entered Ch'ang-an.' The divination of Ch'i is not mentioned in Shih chi 2; for Emperor Wen, see Dubs, Former Han, 1 , 126. Chang Chao 張照, in his Shih chi k'ao-cheng...


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Subject Headings

  • Bodde, Derk, 1909-2003.
  • China -- Civilization.
  • Sinologists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Philosophy, Chinese.
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