15 April 2017

Shiji v2: Revenge-Seekers (last updated Apr. 23)

And it's time for v2 of Shiji! This should be more exciting than the first volume, as it's all about famous revenge-stories set in the Southern Chinese kingdoms of Chu, Wu, and Yue and you know what they say about the fiery temper of Southerners... The first two stories will be about Wu Zixu.
The famous whipping of King Ping's corpse is, I think, one of the earliest recorded examples of posthumous sentences, though I would imagine there was probably an earlier instance in the Fertile Crescent. My money would be on ancient Egypt. A more well-known instance in Western history is probably Oliver Cromwell's posthumous hanging and beheading. Wikipedia even has a list.
This incident is probably where Chiang Kai-Shek's famous quote about "Japanese being a mere disease of the skin while Communists being a disease of the heart/internal organs" comes from. Also, the origin behind 臥薪嚐膽 (Wo Xin Chang Dan) was even more confusing than I thought. I have no idea why some Song-dynasty literati decided to add the 臥薪 part when it was never used in the Shiji. However, I did find two interesting theories (not sure how credible, though) on it. One explains how 臥薪 is a corruption of 臥辛 (since 薪 and  are homonyms) which is a contracted form of a phrase meaning, "to rub spice in sleepy eyes." The "rubbing spice in sleepy eyes" is something that the Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue (a historical record written during the Han Dynasty) does mention for Goujian as an example of the many harsh measures he imposed on himself in addition to licking gallbladder. 

Another explanation is that th蓼薪 (specific type of spicy herb that Goujian rubbed in his eyes according to the Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue) was misunderstood and corrupted into 臥薪, which would mean sleeping on firewood. If there's a Chinese-speaker who can use the Chinese internet and find a better explanation, let me know.

Shiji v02 c01:   Mega
Shiji v02 c02:   Mega
Shiji v02 c03:   Mega
Previous volumes: Mega


  1. Do you read Kingdom, Hox? I just realized that Kingdom is based on the Shiji. Now I'm worried that there might be spoilers for Kingdom in the Shiji manga.

    1. There certainly are a few stories in this manga which'll centre on Qin ministers, kings, and generals, but I wouldn't really consider them to be spoilers for Kingdom, just because Kingdom handles history very differently. You can always skip a chapter if you're super sensitive about that though.

      One of the Shiji volumes will be entirely on Qin Shi Huang/Ying Zheng's life post-unification though.

    2. Volume 7 will cover Ying Zheng's pre-unification life. Volume 8 will cover his life as Qin Shi Huang.
      Volumes 9-12 will cover the Chu-Han contention.
      Volumes 13-15 will cover the lives of the early Han emperors all the way up to Emperor Wu.

      Volume 7 and 8 will contain the most spoilers for Kingdom-readers but like I said before, Kingdom paints history with much more of a creative flair.

    3. Alright, thanks for looking that up. Kingdom certainly takes liberties with how it tells the story. I just googled some Shiji stuff related to Shin and already read some spoilers of his coming exploits. With that I realized I don't really mind because the Shiji probably only mentions characters of Kingdom every now and then in one-liners which don't really tell much at all. So that doesn't really change my enjoyment of Kingdom. I'll be looking forward to reading Yokoyama's depiction of Kingdom stuff in vol 7-8.

  2. Hello, I have only one thing to say and it's thanks for.you hard work ☺.

    One question more have a specific day of publishing or where you have time?

  3. Thank you for your translations. They're clear, concise and splendid!