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Notes on Literary Chinese

Selections from Stratagems of the Warring States

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Literary Chinese Prose

Collection of Literary Chinese Prose

Selections from Stratagems of the Warring States

Stratagems of the Warring States 戰國策, also known in English as Intrigues of the Warring States, Chronicles of the Warring, or Records of the Warring States, is a well known historical work on the Warring States Period compiled between the third and first centuries BCE. It throws light on the political views of the period and also the social characteristics of the time. The original author(s) are not know but it was later discovered by Liu Xiang 劉向 (79—8 BCE) in the Imperial Library. He edited and compiled it into a single work from a number of fragments. See entries for Liu Xiang in the References.

The 戰國七雄 Seven Warring States were Qi , Chu , Yan , Han , Zhao , and Qin .

Zeng Shen Kills Someone



From Qin 2

Long ago the Zeng Zi lived in the city of Bi. [A city in the state of Lu, under the juristiction of the East China Sea.] There was a man from Bi with the same name and clan [name, clan, and surname] as Zeng Zi who killed someone. Someone told Zeng's mother “Zeng Shen has killed someone.” Zeng Zi's mother said, “My son would not kill anyone.” She continued to weave calmly. [Seemingly, as if it was in the past.] Shortly afterwards someone else said, “Zeng Shen has killed someone.” His mother still continued to calmly weave. Shortly afterwards another man told her, “Zeng Shen has killed someone.” His mother became afraid, threw away her shuttle, climbed over the wall and left. [Climbed over the wall and fled.] In spite of Zeng Shen's virtue and his mother's and his mother's faith in him when three men accuse him his mother, despite her love, his mother was unable to have faith.


This selection is from the Scroll 4, Qin Dynasty 2 . Zeng Shen 曾参 was a disciple of Confucius. The sections in square brackets [] are additional annotations included in Fuller. (Fuller, 2004, pp. 111-113) Fuller also gives notes and vocabulary on this section of text. The English here is an original translation.

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