19 August 2020

Shiji v04 (complete)

Alright, it's summer and I have some more time to devote to translating again. Gonna quickly get Shiji v04 done and then move to doing both v02 of Planet Sutakola and continue Kamui-Den.

Well, a little over a year since I translated chapter 2 of this volume, I'm back with chapter 3 to actually wrap up this volume! An interesting note about Lord Mengchang, the subject of chapter 3, is that in Yokoyama's manga adaptation, he's clearly portrayed in a highly positive manner. However, the actual Shiji had a slightly more negative portrayal. For instance, after Lord Mengchang successfully escapes Qin, he crosses through Zhao to return to Qi. However, some Zhao commoners who came out to see what the great Lord Mengchang looked like as he passed through their town, they burst into laughter because his physical appearance was that of a small and unimposing man. Lord Mengchang was enraged by this, and his guests drew their swords and killed several hundreds of people to destroy an entire county. This incident somewhat goes along with the fact that there were more than a few ruffians among Lord Mengchang's many guests. 

In fact, Sima Qian even concludes his biographical chapter on Lord Mengchang by saying he personally visited Xue and found that its customs were rough and there were many violent youngsters, quite unlike the hometowns of Confucius and Mencius. Sima Qian asked a Xue resident why there were so many rough men, and the resident replied it was because Lord Mengchang had invited both stalwart and despicable people to the point that Xue had grown by 60,000 households during his rule. Thus Sima Qian remarks that Lord Mengchang being fond of receiving guests was at least one rumour about him that wasn't baseless. Overall, Sima Qian seems to view Lord Mengchang's generous reception of shi as mostly positive, but was more critical towards his lack of discretion and judgment towards those shi. Given Confucianism's central emphasis on cultivating morals in oneself and others, it's not too surprising that other writers echoed similar criticisms. The famous Song dynasty Confucian bureaucrats Wang Anshi and Sima Guang may have been bitter political rivals, but both negatively viewed Lord Mengchang, with Wang Anshi calling him a leader of ruffians, and the Sima Guang calling him a hero for villains.

Download:
Shiji v04: Mega
Shiji v04 c1: Mega
Shiji v04 c2: Mega
Shiji v04 c3: Mega

Regarding chapter 1, which chronicles the hectic back-and-forth conflict between Qi and Yan in the late Warring States period, the actual Shiji and other historical records explicitly state that King Kuai made his chancellor Zizhi as his successor. Not counting the legendary emperors, this seems to be the only historically attested incident of a ruler abdicating the throne willingly to a non-kin member. The fact that this had disastrous consequences seemed to prove to all the political philosophers active during the late Warring states that willing abdication to the "most capable" as you might have in a more democratic state was a big no-no. Consequently, all the different schools of political philosophy still agreed on the idea of a universal monarchy ideally passed down through primogeniture, though different schools of thought had different ideas on how much power/responsibilities the nobles or minister should have. If you're at all interested in the intellectual history on how prominent thinkers proposed solutions on how to "fix" the broken realm that was the turbulent Eastern Zhou, I'd highly recommend Yuri Pines' Envisioning Eternal Empire: Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era.
This tactic was consequently named the "fire oxen strategy (火牛之計)." It's pretty interesting how setting animals on fire comes up quite often in military history. Some are likely more legendary, like with Olga of Kiev's burning of a Drevlian city, while others, such as using bats carrying incendiaries to burn Japanese cities in WW2 sounds completely insane but was something that actually happened was attempted.

Download:
Shiji v04: Mega
Shiji v04 c1: Mega
Shiji v04 c2: Mega
Shiji v04 c3: Mega

5 comments:

  1. did you drop historie?I Noticed the next volume is about to come out in japan.

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    Replies
    1. Nope. The next volume simply contains chapters I've already done. Iwaaki typically takes breaks before releasing a new tankoban volume to re-do the art. So we're all still fully caught up with Japan.

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  2. Nice! Been waiting for this one.

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  3. HI what about Ad astra. or we are also up to date? thanks for your effort

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  4. I have been following Shiji and Sangokushi for a long time. Chinese history has perhaps one of the most unexpected talents who brought unimaginable stratagems into life. My favourite so far are Zhuge Liang from Sangokushi and Tian Dan from Shiji. I can't wait to read the rest of Shiji. Please keep up the good work

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