Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Sima Qian

SIMA QIAN (Chinese, c. 145-86 BCE)

A Chinese historian in the early Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), his Records of the Grand Historian covers 2,000 years of Chinese "history," starting with the entirely mythical Yellow Emperor (Huangdi, a god) and bringing the story up to his own sovereign, Emperor Wu of Han. It became the model for official historiography for China and its cultural sphere (Korea, Vietnam, Japan) up until the 20th century. Sima Qian inherited his position as court historian from his father Sima Tan, who had started outlining the great work. Caught up in a political scandal, Sima Qian was offered the choice of death or castration, imprisonment, disgrace, and removal from office. He chose the latter in order to finish the work. He was also a gifted poet and prose writer.


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