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The ulcers of Duke Huan of Ch'i.

According to the Tso Chuan [Chinese Text Omitted], the following is said to have occurred in the year 657 B.C. (i.e., the third year of Duke Hsi of Lu [Chinese Text Omitted], and in the twenty-ninth year of Duke Huan of Ch'i [Chinese Text Omitted]):

The Lord of Ch'i (Duke Huan) went for a boat ride in the park with [the lady] Chi of Ts'ai [Chinese Text Omitted]. She rocked the [boat] and the duke became frightened, changed color and forbade her [to continue], but she persisted. The duke became angry and sent her back [to Ts'ai], without breaking off [his relationship with her] completely. The men of Ts'ai, [however,] married her off [to someone else].(1)

One year later, the combined forces of Ch'i [Chinese Text Omitted] and its allies made an incursion into the small state of Ts'ai [Chinese Text Omitted], a direct neighbor of Ch'u [Chinese Text Omitted]. Thereafter Ch'i also threatened the large state of Ch'u.(2)

Elsewhere the Tso chuan states (seventh year of Duke Hsi of Lu, 643 B.C.): "The Lord of Ch'i had three wives, [the lady] Chi of the Royal House [Chinese Text Omitted], Ying of Hsu [Chinese Text Omitted], and Chi of Ts'ai, [but] all were without sons." The text continues: "The Lord of Ch'i was fond of the inner chambers (hao nei [Chinese Text Omitted]) where [he kept] many favorites. Six of them were to him as wives. . . ." It then lists the names of these concubines and says they bore sons. The names of these sons are given, but they do not concern us here.(3)

The three elements contained in the above story - the boat tour and Lady Chi's return to Ts'ai (hereafter we shall refer to Lady Chi as Ts'ai Chi), the military campaign against Ts'ai, the remark on the duke's many wives and concubines - were also presented in later works, but the details vary and several points appear in a distorted form, as will be shown below. However, the dating of these later sources is a highly controversial matter and no attempt can be made in this short note to disentangle the correct sequence of these texts. By and large we shall follow the traditional views, assuming that such works as the Kuo yu [Chinese Text Omitted], Hsun-tzu [Chinese Text Omitted], and Han Fei-tzu [Chinese Text Omitted] were completed after the Tso chuan.

To begin with, it is important to note that Duke Huan of Ch'i (r. 685-641 B.C.), the first of the so-called five hegemons (wu pa [Chinese Text Omitted]), is generally depicted as a strong character in the "early" sources, neither necessarily negative nor exuberantly positive, but with some shortcomings. Kuan Chung [Chinese Text Omitted] (c. 730-645 B.C.), his famous advisor, is said to have described his master with the following words:

[Chiang] Hsiao-po [Chinese Text Omitted] (the duke's name) is not a man of petty intelligence and though he may be a little wild, he has great plans. I (i.e., Kuan) am the only one who can put Hsiao-po's [talents] to use.(4)

The above quotation is from the Kuan-tzu [Chinese Text Omitted], a work of uncertain date and origin. Parts of this work certainly go back to a stock of very old documents, while other segments seem to date to the Early Hun or even later periods. The Kuan-tzu version that is extant today provides the most extensive coverage of the duke's life. It also contains a brief reference to the boating episode, but in it the lady who rocks the boat is no longer identified as his wife. Moreover, the Kuan-tzu claims that she came from Sung [Chinese Text Omitted] and that when the duke sent her back, Sung married her off to the Lord of Ts'ai. This event is dated to the year 684 B.C. The text then states that, in the following year, the duke became angry and wished to attack the small state of Sung. Kuan Chung advised him to give up this idea, but the duke did not heed him and sent his troops against Sung. In the end, the feudal lords came to help Sung and severely defeated Ch'i. According to the Kuan-tzu, this occurred in 683 B.C.(5) The Tso chuan confirms that Ch'i went to war against Sung in that year, but the story of Ts'ai Chi has nothing to do with this campaign.(6) This difference may stem from the fact that the textual structure of the Kuan-tzu is faulty. In all likelihood, the author of this work mixed up the correct sequence of events, so that the campaign against Sung and the Ts'ai Chi affair were erroneously conflated.

The Hun Fei-tzu follows the Tso chuan more closely. It does not date the event but, once again, the lady rocking the boat is from Ts'ai and she is described as Duke Huan's "legal wife." There are some additional details, however, that combine narrative elements found in both the Tso chuan and the Kuan-tzu. Having sent away the lady of Ts'ai, the duke soon "recalled her but [Ts'ai] replied that she had been married out elsewhere. [Thereat] the duke became very angry and was about to attack Ts'ai." Kuan Chung does not favor this plan. He advises the duke to attack Ch'u first and only afterward to invade Ts'ai. The reason for this is that Kuan Chung thinks Ts'ai will not assist Ch'i in its move against Ch'u, whereupon Ch'i can then say it has good reason to punish Ts'ai in the name of "the son of heaven."(7)

Ssu-ma Ch'ien [Chinese Text Omitted] repeats the first part of the narrative - the boating story and Ts'ai Chi's marriage - and then records that Ch'i and its allies invaded Ts'ai and then attacked Ch'u. His wording closely follows the text of the Tso chuan.(8) But in another chapter of the Shih chi [Chinese Text Omitted], a slightly different version is found: "[Duke] Huan of Ch'i was angry about the younger Chi; he [first] made a surprise attack against Ts'ai in the south, then Kuan Chung [advised him] to attack Ch'u . . ."(9) The "younger Chi" may refer to the younger Chi of Wei (shao Wei Chi [Chinese Text Omitted]), one of the duke's six concubines whose names appear in the Tso chuan; or it may imply that Ts'ai Chi was the youngest of the "three Chi" (the duke's three wives with the cognomen Chi, see above); or it may be a simple mistake for Ts'ai.

The texts quoted above leave open several questions. Who was the lady involved in the boating incident? Did she really come from Ts'ai as the Tso chuan, Hun Fei-tzu, and other texts suggest? Was it because of her or owing to some other reason that Duke Huan began his military campaign? To begin with, if the Kuan-tzu is correct, the duke was very much determined to strengthen his political position well before the attack on Sung. More generally, he appears as a highly ambitious man willing to employ all methods to expand his influence.(10) Similar ideas are raised in the context of those versions of events where he moved against Ts'ai: that is, the real objective of the campaign against Ts'ai was the wish to weaken Ch'u, with Ts'ai itself only playing a secondary role. If this was so, Ch'i followed a very complex strategy, indeed, and we may surmise that Duke Huan knew well what he was after. Perhaps he thought a weak state like Ts'ai would have to be subdued first, before Ch'u, the major enemy, could be attacked. Under these circumstances, the duke's affair with Ts'ai Chi may simply have served as a pretext to start the campaign. In that event, it can also be asked whether the boating affair occurred as described, or whether it was fabricated and circulated as a "rumor" to the other feudal lords, to let them know that the duke had good reason to attack Ts'ai. News of what had happened in Ch'i may also have served to irritate Ch'u: to Ch'u, the duke's behavior must have appeared as hot-headed, so Ch'u would be inclined to think the duke's primary goal was the conquest of Ts'ai, rather than an attack against Ch'u. Regardless of the facts, the details given in Tso chuan do not suffice to reconstruct a definite picture; all one can say is that Duke Huan had ambitious plans. The Han Fei-tzu, it would seem, supports this general impression, although, in the context of the Ts'ai Chi affair, it clearly portrays the duke as an angry man who wishes to punish Ts'ai without regard for the potential risks involved in such a move. The same can be said of the Kuan-tzu, where the duke is pictured as equally hot-tempered prior to his ill-fated attack on Sung. Finally, in these texts, the role given to Kuan Chung is also somewhat more prominent, in contrast with that in the Tso chuan.

Let us now consider some other points. The Tso chuan, as noted above, claimed that Duke Huan had no son from his three "legal wives." Presumably it was for this reason that he frequented his favorites. It is in this context that one has to consider the expression hao nei. The phrase appears in several later texts and is usually understood as "to be fond of the inner chambers" or "to dote on one's concubines." We can be sure that most Han Confucian moralists would knit their brows upon reading such a phrase - unless the duke's fondness for the inner chambers was seen as a mirror of his exorbitant political powers.

Fu Ch'ien [Chinese Text Omitted] (c. 125-195), a Later Han scholar and one of the early Shih chi commentators, thought it necessary to explain the word nei; he glosses it as fu-kuan [Chinese Text Omitted], i.e., a general reference to "palace women."(11) Perhaps, by adding such a note to a passage that did not really call for a comment, he wished to draw attention to the "doubtful" side of the duke's character. Other texts are more direct and make the duke appear as a lustful man. The Han Fei-tzu, for example, has this: "Duke Huan of Ch'i was by nature jealous and fond of women (hao nei)," continuing to say, "therefore, Shu-tiao [Chinese Text Omitted] castrated himself so as to be put in charge of the [duke's] harem."(12) The duke not only is blamed for having a libidinous streak; his character is also brought into question by permitting Shu-tiao, up to then a stranger, to be employed in his palace.(13)

The Kuan-tzu contains some additional passages. In a dialogue between Kuan Chung and the duke, the duke says of himself: "Unfortunately, I like wine and keep at it day and night." A little farther on, the duke continues: "I have a serious vice: unfortunately, I like women, and have not married off my aunts and sisters."(14)

Hsun-tzu (c. 313-c. 238 B.C.), whose work went through the hands of the Han editor Liu Hsiang (79-8 B.C.) but certainly contains still some original passages, picks up the latter statement from Kuan-tzu and mixes it with other elements: "In conducting the inner chambers, [the duke] left seven of his aunts and sisters (ku tzu mei) unmarried; within the inner gates of the palace, he found enjoyment and pleasure in extravagance and excess."(15) It thus appears that Hsun-tzu too had doubts about the duke's character, although he treats the issue less severely than Han Fei.

But why was the duke presented in such a strange light in these texts, when his portrayal in the Tso chuan had been more favorable? Most Confucian scholars had reservations about the institution of the so-called "five hegemons" of which Duke Huan was the first and probably most dynamic. Such scholars would be inclined to look for arguments enabling them to criticize the duke's private life. One argument of this sort may have originated from a story found in the Tso chuan, Kuan-tzu, and other texts. This story, it is important to note, was primarily attached not to Duke Huan but to his immediate predecessor, Duke Hsiang of Ch'i [Chinese Text Omitted] (r. 697-686 B.C.). We quote the version given in the Kuan-tzu:

The wife of Duke Huan of Lu [Chinese Text Omitted] (r. 711-694 B.C.), Wen Chiang [Chinese Text Omitted], was a native of Ch'i. When the duke was preparing to go to Ch'i accompanied by his wife, Shen Yu [Chinese Text Omitted] (an officer under him) warned him: "This won't do. A woman has her [husband's] house, a man has his wife's chamber. There should be no defilement on either side. This we call having propriety." But the duke would not listen and subsequently with Wen Chiang met Duke [Hsiang] of Ch'i at the Lo [river], where Wen Chiang had improper relations with him. On hearing about it, Duke Huan scolded her. She then told Duke [Hsiung] of Ch'i, who became enraged. After a feast given for Duke Huan, [Duke Hsiung] had [a strong knight], Kung-tzu P'eng-sheng [Chinese Text Omitted], crush Duke Huan in his arms while helping him into his chariot. Thus Duke Huan died in his chariot.(16)

Besides this story, the Kuan-tzu contains some verses in which Duke Hsiang of Ch'i is depicted in an equally negative way.

In the past our former prince, Duke Hsiung, / Made lofty his pavilions and broad his ponds. / Wallowing in pleasure and drinking wine, / He hunted with net, and stringed arrow / Paying no attention to ruling the state. / He despised the gentry and ridiculed the sages, / Only women were honored. / Nine wives (chiu fei [Chinese Text Omitted]), [each] with six ladies-in-waiting (liu p'in [Chinese Text Omitted]), / Ranked concubines by the thousands, / To be fed with millet and meat, / To be clothed in ornate embroidery, / While martial knights endured cold and hunger. . .(17)

This was certainly more than an "ordinary" Hah Confucian could bear. The Li-chi [Chinese Text Omitted] spoke of three fu-jen [Chinese Text Omitted] (legal wives), nine p'in, twenty-seven shih-fu [Chinese Text Omitted], and eighty-one yu-chiang [Chinese Text Omitted] in connection with the emperor. Other texts give different numbers of ladies permitted to the feudal lords and the emperor, but no text permits such an inflated number of consorts as Duke Hsiang is said to have kept for himself.(18)

Duke Hsiang's escapades inspired Liu Hsiang to include a whole chapter on Wen Chiang in his famous collection of women's biographies, the Lieh nu-chuan [Chinese Text Omitted]. This chapter centers on Wen Chiang's rendezvous with the duke. Moreover, since the duke was her older brother, the relation between them is termed "incestuous."(19) The Shih chi and other works also allude to the illicit nature of this affair.(20) It is clear, therefore, that Duke Hsiang had a bad reputation and that most later authors tended to perpetuate this image.

This negative picture of Duke Hsiang seems to have been confounded with the image of Duke Huan of Ch'i, either during the Han period or somewhat earlier. The phrase hao nei and the fact that Duke Huan had three wives and many favorites (both these elements were mentioned in the Tso chuan), as well as the dialogue quoted from Kuan-tzu and other passages in which the duke admitted his taste for wine and women, perhaps caused some scholars to regard him as no better than his predecessor. A number of cases may serve to illustrate this. The Lieh-nu chuan states, for example, "Duke Huan of Ch'i liked licentious music . . .,"(21) and the Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu [Chinese Text Omitted] reports that he indulged in heavy drinking and eating. It then adds, "he loved women indiscriminately" - the Chinese phrase, hao se wu pieh [Chinese Text Omitted], probably being an extension of the old hao nei.(22) Hsu Yen [Chinese Text Omitted], in a commentary to the Kung-yang chuan [Chinese Text Omitted], attributes another passage to the Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu (which, however, is not found in the present edition of that book): "Our former seigneur, Duke Huan, was licentious; he did not marry off nine of his female relatives (nu-kung-tzu [Chinese Text Omitted]). . . ."(23)

Based on these or similar statements, men like Lu Chia [Chinese Text Omitted] (c. 228-c. 140 B.C.), author of the Hsin-yu [Chinese Text Omitted], proposed the extreme explanation: "Duke Huan of Ch'i was fond of women's love. He took as wives his aunt(s) and sisters, and many [cases of] immoral relations with one's relatives were [recorded] in his country."(24) Needless to say, the passage here printed in italics (ch'i ku tzu mei [Chinese Text Omitted]) is clearly derived from the Hsun-tzu, Kuan-tzu, or some related source, the remarkable thing being that Lu Chia obviously thought the duke had not married off his female relatives because he wished to enjoy their sexual favors himself.

Ho Hsiu's [Chinese Text Omitted] (A.D. 129-82) notes on the Kung-yang chuan reveal similar fantasies but, like some later writings, they also raise doubts about the story of Duke Huan's multiple incest.(25) The conclusion offered by Ho is that at least one important detail is questionable: according to one version of the story, seven sisters and aunt(s) were involved, whereas, according to another, their number was nine. (Hsun-tzu, we may add, had spoken of seven ladies.) Ho Hsiu goes on to raise another doubtful point: why is it that the people of Ch'i did not criticize Duke Huan for his ninefold incest, if they had earlier criticized Duke Hsiang for having illicit relations with only one lady (Wen Chiang)?

The matter becomes even more complicated when T'ang Yen's [Chinese Text Omitted] comment to the Hsin-yu is consulted. This quotes the Han shu, where it is said, "Duke Hsiang was licentious and did not marry off his aunt(s) and sisters. Thereupon, the eldest daughters of many families were not married. . ." The curious point here is that this passage is linked to Duke Hsiang and not to Duke Huan.(26) Obviously, the commentator has mixed up the two dukes, as suggested above. Or perhaps he was simply "inspired" through Duke Hsiang's negative portrayal in the Kuan-tzu, because of such passages as: "Only women were honored. / Nine wives, [each] with six ladies-in-waiting, / Ranked concubines by the thousands."

It is not known whether these verses from the Kuan-tzu are the work of a Han scholar or whether they go back to earlier times. If they were a fabrication of the Han period, we would have to conclude, again, that the image of Duke Hsiang, as well as that of Duke Huan, was significantly distorted in that period, But not all scholars accepted what their contemporaries had to say about the two dukes, especially about Duke Huan. Ho Hsiu was one skeptic. Wang Ch'ung [Chinese Text Omitted] (A.D. 27-c. 100) is another case:

It has been recorded that Duke Huan of Ch'i married his seven cousins. That cannot be true, for it would be incest and a violation of the laws of consanguinity. . . . Had Duke Huan married his seven cousins, his viciousness would have left behind that of Chieh and Chou. . . . The Ch'un-ch'iu commends the smallest merit and condemns the slightest wrong. For what reason then did it not condemn the great crime of Duke Huan?. . . Why was the Ch'un-ch'iu so hard upon Duke Hsiang, recording his lewdness, and why so lenient to Duke Huan, concealing his crime and having no word of reproof for it? . . . The fault of Duke Huan consisted in his too great condescension towards the ladies of his harem. Six concubines enjoyed his special favour, and five princes contended to become his heirs. . . . People hearing of these six favourites, and that no distinction was made between the sons of his wife and his concubines, then said that he misbehaved himself with his seven cousins.(27)

Wang Ch'ung, it is clear, wishes to rectify Duke Huan's reputation. References found elsewhere also seem to support the idea that the duke was not as lewd as some had thought, because he had a sense of what was right and wrong, and knew how a woman should comport herself. The Lieh-nu chuan contains one such reference in its chapter on Wei Chi [Chinese Text Omitted] (or Chi of Wei), one of the duke's three legal wives. Wei Chi, we are told, was quite intelligent and exerted a moderating influence on the duke. The duke, seeing that she was loyal and correct in her behavior, "admired her, ordered her to rule the inner apartments, and established her as his legal consort."(28) Another story in the same work relates that Duke Huan had Lady Ai Chiang [Chinese Text Omitted] killed, as punishment for having had illicit intercourse with Ch'ing-fu [Chinese Text Omitted], the brother of her husband.(29)

The image of Duke Huan is thus very ambiguous. On one side, Han sources present him as a capable ruler with a clear sense of justice and an instinct for political power; on the other side they accuse him of various indecencies and misdeeds, some of which seem to be confused with the faults and crimes committed by Duke Hsiang.

The Chan-kuo ts'e [Chinese Text Omitted], another well-known work edited by Liu Hsiang, also fosters this divided image. But it adds two interesting details that derive from earlier statements. The first is this: "Duke Huan of Ch'i had seven 'markets' (shih [Chinese Text Omitted]) in [his] palace, and seven hundred women (nu-lu [Chinese Text Omitted]), and the people were [all] against it."(30) A similar passage is contained in the Han Fei-tzu, but there the number is "two markets" and "two hundred" women.(31) Both passages were often interpreted to mean the duke's capital had several brothels with several hundred prostitutes in them.(32) The Han Fei-tzu contains another passage that bears on the duke's poor behavior: "Duke Huan disheveled his hair, met (yu [Chinese Text Omitted]) his wife (or wives), and, on a daily [basis], went through the markets [with her (or them)]."(33) The character yu normally means "to manage," "to drive a chariot," "to wait on," etc. The precise meaning of the sentence is difficult to make out, but in all likelihood the purport was not very sympathetic to the man in question.

The second strange element found in the Chan-kuo ts'e will eventually bring us back to the initial part of this paper. This element is embedded in a tale in the "Yen ts'e" chapter of that book. Crump translated it as follows:

It is the common practice of the sages to turn disaster into good fortune and defeat into victory. This is how Duke Huan could turn his back (fu [Chinese Text Omitted]) on the woman sent to be his wife yet make this the means of gaining more honor (ming i tsun [Chinese Text Omitted]).(34)

Here it is the character fu that causes headaches. Besides "turn one's back on," it may also mean "to carry on the back," "to bear," etc. Now, what is interesting here is that some scholars take the entire passage as referring to the story of Ts'ai Chi: the duke was angry about her, so he "turned his back" on her, i.e., he sent her away. He then attacked the state of Ts'ai, as we have seen above, and afterward even moved against Ch'u; thus he "gained more honor" for himself and increased his reputation. A somewhat different interpretation rests on the assumption that fu here stands for fu-lei [Chinese Text Omitted], i.e., "to involve," or "to be involved" (or, if the object is included: fu fu-jen chih lei [Chinese Text Omitted]). If so, then the duke "involved" his wife in his political plans so as to profit from her.(35) Both of these interpretations are shortened versions of the Ts'ai Chi story, which ultimately derives from the Tso chuan.

A completely different scenario arises if the character fu is understood as fu [Chinese Text Omitted], i.e., "to wear," "to submit," "to serve," "garments," etc. Some think this reading can be linked to Han Fei. The passage in question is quoted in a commentary by K'ung Ying-ta [Chinese Text Omitted] (574-648). It says:

Duke Huan was fond of wearing purple clothes (fu tzu [Chinese Text Omitted]). [So,] everyone in the country would wear such robes. At that time it was impossible to exchange ten plain [white garments] for one purple [robe]. [Therefore] plain silks of low quality were dyed with purple [color] and sold at prices ten times as high [as what they were worth].(36)

Now, if, as some critics think, those wearing purple garments were, for the most part, women, and if the phrase fu fu-jen [Chinese Text Omitted] in the "Yen ts'e" segment of Chan-kuo ts'e is a corruption or an abbreviation of fu fu-jen [chih fu-se [Chinese Text Omitted]], i.e., "to wear clothing with the color of women's robes," then the entire passage in this same segment might mean that "Duke Huan's [habit of] wearing [purple] robes [caused the production and profitable sale of cheap imitations], and [in this way the duke] gained more honor."(37) In short, we have two quite different explanations of the same passage, the choice being between an abridged version of the Ts'ai Chi story, on one hand, and the image of a profit-making Duke of Ch'i, on the other.

But that is not all. The character fu also stimulated the analytical skills of Wang Ch'ung, who pointed out the fallacies in various traditional interpretations of historical documents and, in general, admonishes the reader to be critical with literary works. Among the many examples he cites in support of his views is the following (quoted in Forke's translation):

There is a notice in some books to the effect that Duke Huan of Ch'i carried his wife (fu fu-jen [Chinese Text Omitted]), when he received the feudal princes in audience. This would show that the duke's lust reached the last degree of indecency. If Duke Huan carried his wife on his back at great audience, how could he have outdone this feat at the wildest Bacchanal?(38)

This interpretation of the character fu (i.e., "to carry [on the back]") differs significantly from those discussed above. Presumably, Wang Ch'ung's version derives from some earlier references. These, however, have not been transmitted: the Han and pre-Han texts available today do not record such a story.(39) Perhaps we are dealing with a missing link that can no longer be restored in its original form. Others have tried to bridge this "textual gap" by referring to the Chan-kuo ts'e; Wang Ch'ung (or the author of the missing link), they argue, either did not understand the phrases "Duke Huan fu fu-jen" and "ming i tsun" correctly, or, alternatively, Wang mis-remembered and misquoted the words when he wrote down his own explanations.(40)

Wang Ch'ung, however, was a rigorous scholar who would not content himself merely with what he had heard or seen (or fabricated himself?). Duke Huan, he continues,

refined the manners of scholars, inspiring them with awe and reverence by his majesty - how could he, with his wife on his back, have led on the princes to do homage to the royal house? At the meeting of K'uei-ch'iu,(41) Duke Huan was very proud and elated. The Heads of nine States then revolted from him. His angry looks could not prevent the revolt of the nine States. Now fancy the duke carrying his wife and affording them such a spectacle of lascivity; - would that have induced them to stand by him?(42)

After this, Wang Ch'ung proceeds through a complicated chain of arguments. This is intended to show that the blame for the duke's alleged fault ought to be put on others:

Some say that Kuan Chung informed the princes that his master (i.e., the duke) had ulcers (chu ch'uang [Chinese Text Omitted]) on his back,(43) which would not heal without the wife's assistance. The princes believed Kuan Chung and therefore did not rebel. Now, in all places of ten families (i.e., in the smallest hamlets) an honest man like Confucius can be found. At that time, the princes had assembled over a thousand men. There was, doubtless,

one among them experienced in the art of curing ulcers, so that the services of the duke's wife could be dispensed with.

Kuan Chung, it may appear at first sight, was the one who had concocted this fantastic story in defense of his master's alleged lascivity. But the initial words of the quotation - "some say that" - rather seem to put the blame on others. These, we may surmise, were the Han Confucian scholars; evidently, they had fabricated the entire story to slander both the duke and his counselor, Kuan Chung. Or, had Wang Ch'ung invented the "others" himself, and the "rumors" associated with them? It is well known that he harbored a deep grudge against the ruling class of his time, primarily because he did not succeed in obtaining a high government post. Be this as it may, the important thing is that Wang Ch'ung presents the facts from very different angles.

What follows next is another set of complicated arguments, which, since they are not directly related to our case, may here be left out. In due course, Wang says:

The scholiasts of the Shu-ching relate that Duke Chou as a regent wore the silken ribbons of the emperor and his hat, and that, his back turned upon a screen and facing the south, he gave audiences to the princes.(44)

He then continues:

A partition between the door and the window is called a screen (i [Chinese Text Omitted]). Facing the south indicates the high dignity. If in sitting one turns the back upon the screen and looks southward, the screen is behind. Now, when Duke Huan held an audience of all the princes, he was perhaps sitting with his face turned to the south, and his wife stood behind him. This has given rise to the popular tradition that he carried his wife on his back.

Duke Huan, thus, behaved correctly, and in full compliance with the rules of royal etiquette. Several Han and pre-Han works comment on the way court ceremonials were held, including the direction in which a ruler would be seated during an audience.(45) One statement occurs in the Han shu biography of Wang Mang [Chinese Text Omitted]:

The Duke of Chou received the feudal lords (or princes) in the Hall of Enlightenment (Ming-t'ang); the emperor, with his back turned upon the axe-embroidered screen (fu fu-i [Chinese Text Omitted]) and his face showing south, stood [in the palace to receive his subjects].(46)

The Li-chi is given as the source for this statement, although the wording there is slightly different. Notwithstanding, two observations emerge from the above. First, the character fu occurs in both the Han shu and the Li-chi; this clearly supports Wang Ch'ung's line of argument, namely, that the expressions fu fu-i and fu fu-jen were deliberately confounded. Second, royal etiquette was a popular topic in Han literary circles; therefore, Wang Ch'ung's attack against the ruling elite of his times was a courageous one - a move that would not necessarily be supported by his contemporaries.

Towards the end of his chapter on "Falsehoods in Books," from which we have been quoting, Wang Ch'ung presents various other examples of textual absurdities. One story concerns Duke Ting of Sung [Chinese Text Omitted] (eleventh or tenth century B.C.?): There was no well in the duke's compound, says Wang Ch'ung, so everyday a man had to be sent to fetch water. When a well was finally dug, this man was no longer needed.

Therefore they said that Duke Ting of Sung, digging a well, found a man. Popular tradition went a step farther, pretending that Duke Ting, digging the well, found a man in it. Man is born from man and not from earth. Piercing the earth and boring a well is not done with the object of finding a man.

Wang Ch'ung then returns to Duke Huan, saying:

In point of analogy, the story of Duke Huan carrying his wife comes in the same category. He was sitting, his back turned upon his wife, whence the statement that his wife was on his back. Knowing that having one's wife on one's back is indecent, they concocted the story of Kuan Chung curing ulcers through the wife.(47)

The technique of Wang Ch'ung's rhetoric is a subtle network of different narrative modes. Some parts of his Lun-heng are serious philosophical debates, others consist of long strings of arguments and counter-arguments, others read like allegories. Still, others seem to contain a good deal of pungent humor. The latter is apparent in Wang's final comment on the ulcer story:

If Duke Huan had laid aside his princely robe, when his wife was on his back, perhaps the female fluid could remove the ulcers, and his boils could be cured by his wife. But, on receiving the lords, Duke Huan was clad in heavy garments, and his wife likewise wore thick clothes. The female fluid thus being checked, of what benefit would it have been to carry his wife? Duke Huan bestowed much thought on the savants. He illuminated his palace, and was sitting there at night. By his meditations he attracted the scholars, and how should he have received the princes with his wife on his back during the day?

The present note began with a quotation from the Tso chuan, viz., Ts'ai Chi's rocking of Duke Huan's boat, her subsequent "dismissal," and the duke's military campaigns. We then saw how the duke was presented in later works, and how his image as a lewd man was constructed. Our discussion of an important line in the Chan-kuo ts'e centered on the expression fu fu-jen and the way in which some scholars linked this to the Ts'ai Chi affair. We ended with a story of boils (or "ulcers") on Duke Huan's back and with Wang Ch'ung's deconstruction of the duke's image as an indecent ruler.

The ulcers, interestingly, continued to be referred to in later texts. For example, encyclopedias such as the T'ai-p'ing yu-lan [Chinese Text Omitted] contain entries that include references to the chu [Chinese Text Omitted] of Duke Huan. The affliction is said to have been particularly agonizing and could, we are told, even lead to sudden death.(48)

1 Cf. translation in James Legge, The Ch'un Ts'ew with the Tso Chuen, in Legge, The Chinese Classics, 5 vols., rev. ed. (Hong Kong: Hong Kong Univ. Press, 1960), 5: 138.

2 Ibid., 140-41.

3 Cf. ibid., 173.

4 W. Allyn Rickett, Guanzi: Political, Economic, and Philosophical Essays from Early China: A Study and Translation, vol. 1 (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1985), 285; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Tai Wang, rpt. Chu-tzu chi-ch'eng (Shanghai: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1954), 5: 102. Note that Rickett's translation, which is followed here, is based on Wang Nien-sun's [Chinese Text Omitted] reading of the Kuan-tzu. Also see Rickett, 85 n. 21, and Kuan-tzu chi-chiao [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Kuo Mo-jo, Hsu Wei-yu, and Wen I-to, 2 vols. (Peking: K'o-hsueh ch'u-pan-she, 1956), 1: 264.

5 Rickett, 295; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 5: 106.

6 Legge, Ch'un Ts'ew, 86.

7 "Wife," for ch'i, is preferred over Liao's translation "concubine"; the lady's name is not mentioned in Han Fei's work. See W. K. Liao, tr., The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu, 2 vols. (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1939 and 1959), 2: 28, 45-46; Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Liang Ch'i-hsiung, 2 vols. (rpt., Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1960), 2: 269, 281-82.

8 Shih chi (rpt. Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1975), 33.1489; Edouard Chavannes, Les Memoires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, 5 vols. (rpt., Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1967), 4: 52-53.

9 See Shih chi, 62.2133; William H. Nienhauser, Jr., et al., The Grand Scribe's Records, vol. 7: The Memoirs of Pre-Han China by Ssu-ma Ch'ien (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1994), 12.

10 Rickett, 294-95; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 5: 105-6.

11 Shih chi, 33.1493 and 1494, n. 2; Chavannes, 4: 58. The Shih chi passage is of course based on the Tso chuan (see reference in n. 3). Most dictionaries explain fu-kuan [Chinese Text Omitted] as nu-kuan [Chinese Text Omitted] it is unlikely, therefore, that "officials in charge of the palace" were meant. For nu-kuan, see, e.g., Charles O. Hucker, A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1985), no. 4340.

12 Cf. Liao, Works of Han Fei Tzu, 1: 50; Burton Watson, Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1964), 33; Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 1: 45-46.

13 Kuan Chung did not support Shu-tiao; in fact, he warned Duke Huan against him. In the end Shu-tiao turned against the duke. See Liao, 2: 144-45; Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 350-52; Rickett, 385, 428; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 159, 181.

14 Rickett, 345; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 129. On the duke's fondness for wine, see also Liao, 2: 158, and Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 360.

15 Cf. Hermann Koster, tr., Hsun-tzu (St. Augustin: Steyler Verlag, 1967), 63; John Knoblock, Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works, 3 vols. (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1988-1994), 2: 57; Homer H. Dubs, The Works of Hsuntze (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1928), 81-82; Hsun-tzu chi-chieh, ed. Wang Hsien-ch'ien, 2 vols. (rpt., Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1988), 1: 104. Koster has "eight" instead of "seven" sisters.

16 See Legge, Ch'un Ts'ew, 69-71; Rickett, 287; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 103; Chavannes, 4: 43-44; Shih chi, 32.1483. Shen Yu is called Shen Hsu [Chinese Text Omitted] in the Tso chuan.

17 See Rickett, 322-23; Kuan-tzu chiao-cheng, 5: 120. A similar passage is in Kuo yu (SPPY), "Ch'i yu," 6.2a.

18 See James Legge, tr., Ch'u Chai and Winberg Chai, eds., Li Chi: Book of Rites, 2 vols. (rpt., New York: Univ. Books, 1967), 2: 432; Li-chi cheng-i [Chinese Text Omitted], in Shih-san ching chu-shu fu chiao-k'an [Chinese Text Omitted], 2 vols. (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1980), 2: 61.1681c (453); Liu Shih-sheng, Chung-kuo ku-tai fu-nu shih [Chinese Text Omitted] (Tsingtao: Ch'ing-tao ch'u-pan-she, 1991), 47.

19 Albert Richard O'Hara, The Position of Women in Early China, According to the Lieh Nil Chuan, "The Biographies of Chinese Women" (rpt., Taipei: Mei Ya Publications, 1978), 193-94; Lieh-nu chuan chiao-chu [Chinese Text Omitted] (SPPY), 7.3b-4a. For earlier references, see Legge, Ch'un Ts'ew, 70-71; Shih chi, 33.1530; Chavannes, 4: 109-10.

20 See references in n. 16 above.

21 O'Hara, 51; Lieh-nu chuan chiao-chu, 2.1b.

22 See Rainer Holzer, Yen-tzu und das Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1983), 104; Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu chi-shih [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Wu Tse-yu, 2 vols. (rpt., Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1982), 1: 245, 246 n. 3.

23 Ch'un-ch'iu Kung-yang chuan chu-shu [Chinese Text Omitted], in Shih-san ching chu-shu fu chiao-k'an, 2: 8.2236b (42); also quoted in Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu chi-shih, 1: 246, n. 3. Note that Hsu Yen's authorship of the comment on the Kung-yang chuan can be put in doubt.

24 See Annemarie von Gabain, "Ein Furstenpiegel: Das Sin-yu des Lu Kia," Mitteilungen des Seminars fur Orientalische Sprachen 33.1 (1930): 34; Hsin-yu chiao-chu [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Wang Li-ch'i (rpt., Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1986), A.67.

25 Ch'un-ch'iu Kung-yang chuan chu-shu, 8.2236b (42). Also quoted in Yen-tzu ch'un-ch'iu chi-shih, 1:246 n. 3; Hsin-yu chiao-chu, A.69, n. 11; Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Ho Chien-chang, 3 vols. (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1990), 1: "Tung Chou ts'e," 11, 19 n. 10. For a translation of the relevant Kung-yang chuan passage (which, however, says nothing of Duke Huan's relations to his wives and sisters), see Goran Malmqvist, "Studies on the Gongyang and Guliang Commentaries," Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 43 (1971): 136. Interestingly, Knoblock, 2:276 n. 4, also thinks that Hsun-tzu had it in mind to accuse the duke of having incestuous yearnings. See also Koster, 63; and Dubs, 81-82.

26 Hsin-yu chiao-chu, A.69, n. 11; Han shu (rpt., Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1964), 28B.1661.

27 Translation from Alfred Forke, Lun Heng: Miscellaneous Essays of Wang Ch'ung, 2 vols. (rpt., New York: Paragon, 1962), 2: 253-55; see also Lun-heng chiao-shih [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Huang Hui, 4 vols. (Taipei: T'ai-wan Shang-wu yin-shu-kuan, 1968), l: 180-82. A large number of Western and Chinese works have been published on Wang Ch'ung. For a recent survey, see Nicolas Zufferey, Wang Chong (27-97?): Connaissance, politique et verite en Chine ancienne (Bern: Peter Lang, 1995), esp. pp. 85-89 (on the "Shu hsu" [Chinese Text Omitted] chapter from which the quoted passages are taken).

28 O'Hara, 51-53 (quote from p. 53); Lieh-nu chuan chiao-chu, 2.1b-2a.

29 O'Hara, 195-96; Lieh-nu chuan chiao-chu, 7.4a/b. For a slightly different version, see Legge, Ch'un Ts'ew, 129, 134-35.

30 Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih, 1: "Tung Chou ts'e," 17; James I. Crump, Chan-kuo Ts'e (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), 51, translating "seven hundred compounds for his women."

31 Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 362; Liao, Han Fei Tzu, 2: 162. Ko Hung's Pao p'u tzu has "three hundred" women; see the Chu-tzu chi-ch'eng text, "Wai-p'ien," 12.122.

32 Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih, 1: 19, n. 10. Liu Shih-sheng, Chung-kuo ku-tai fu-nu shih, 50, quotes an unverified source which says the duke collected money from the pleasure quarters in the capital to support his army. Two other references given by Liu, to show that women were kept for the pleasure of soldiers (Wu Yueh ch'un-ch'iu [Chinese Text Omitted] and Yueh chueh shu [Chinese Text Omitted]), are also questionable. For the Yueh chueh shu, see the SPPY edition of that text (8.5b), and Axel Schussler, "Das Yue-chue shu als hanzeitliche Quelle zur Geschichte der Chan-kuo-Zeit" (doctoral diss., Univ. of Munich, 1966), 111.

33 Liao, 2: 128; Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 338. "On a daily [basis]" might instead mean "during the day."

34 Crump, 508; Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih, 3: 1087. In other texts (Tso chuan, Han Fei-tzu, Shih chi) the expressions kuei [Chinese Text Omitted] or ch'u [Chinese Text Omitted] are used instead of fu.

35 Yokota Iko, Sengoku saku seikai [Chinese Text Omitted], quoted in Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih, 3: 1089, n. 15. A very different view is found in I-lin [Chinese Text Omitted] (SPTK), 5.75, where Ts'ai Chi is said to have caused calamities and where she is compared to Pao Ssu [Chinese Text Omitted], one of the femmes fatales of Chinese antiquity.

36 For the quotation, see Chan-kuo ts'e chi-chu hui-k'ao [Chinese Text Omitted], ed. Chu Tsu-keng, 3 vols. (Nanking: Chiang-su ch'u-pan-she, 1985), 3: 1516-17, n. 13; Chan-kuo ts'e, 3 vols. (Shanghai: Ku-chi ch'u-pan-she, 1978), 3: 1046, n. 1; Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih, 3: 1088-89, n. 15. Also see K'ung Ying-ta, Ch'un-ch'iu Tso chuan cheng-i [Chinese Text Omitted], in Shih-san ching chu-shu fu chiao-k'an, 2: 60.2179a (477). Modern editions of Hen Fei-tzu contain two different versions of this story. One version reads: "The King of Ch'i was fond of wearing purple clothes. So were the people of Ch'i. As a result, in the Ch'i state with the cost of five plain white garments nobody could buy a purple one. Over the expensiveness of purple clothes, the King of Ch'i worried." The king (Duke Huan) was then advised to put off these clothes when at court. Moreover, "When any officials wearing purple clothes come in, tell them: 'Get away! I dislike the bad odor!' In consequence, that day no courtier wore purple clothes; in a month nobody in the state capital wore purple clothes; and in a year nobody within the state boundaries wore purple clothes." The translation follows Liao, Hen Fei Tzu, 2: 53-54, with some minor alterations. Also see Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 286-87.

37 See Chin Cheng-hui's comments on the story in "Yen ts'e," quoted in Chan-kuo ts'e chu-shih and Chan-kuo ts'e chi-chu hui-k'ao, as in previous note.

38 Forke, Lun Heng, 2: 255; Lun-heng chiao-shih, 1: 182.

39 T'ai-p'ing ya-lan [Chinese Text Omitted] (Taipei: Hsin-hsing ch'u-pan-she, 1958), 742.4b-6a, quotes this story, but has "in some Confucian books (ju shu)."

40 The modern editor of the Lun-heng thinks that fu in the Chan-kuo ts'e passage meant hen [Chinese Text Omitted] ("to bate," "to dislike") and that, later on, it was wrongly read as ho-fu [Chinese Text Omitted] ("to bear," "to carry responsibility"); hence, from this was derived the absurd story that Duke Huan carried his wife on his back. See Lun-heng chiao-shih, 1: 183.

41 See Legge, Ch'un Ts'ew, 154. This meeting was held in 651 B.C.

42 Forke, 2: 255; Lun-heng chiao-shih, 1: 182.

43 Ch'uang [Chinese Text Omitted] may mean "cuts." I-wen lei-chu [Chinese Text Omitted] (rpt., Shanghai: Shang-hai ku-chi ch'u-pan-she, 1982), 35.618, and T'ai-p'ing yu-lan, 371.9a, and 742.4b-6a, have ch'uang [Chinese Text Omitted] (with rad. 104), "ulcer," "sore."

44 Forke, 2: 257; Lun-heng chiao-shih, 1: 185. This statement does not occur in the extant Shu-ching, but it resembles a similar statement in Han shu. See below and references in n. 46.

45 E.g., Shang-shu cheng-i, in Shih-san ching chu-shu fu chiao-k'an, 1: 16.223b/c (181).

46 Cf. Homer H. Dubs, The History of the Former Han Dynasty by Pan Ku, 3 vols. (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1938-55), 3: 222; Hans O. Stange, Die Monographie uber Wang Mang (Ts'ien-Han-shu Kap. 99) (rpt., Nendeln, Lichtenstein: Kraus, 1966), 83; Han shu, 99A.4080; Legge, Li Chi, 2: 29; Li-chi cheng-i, 2: 31.1487c (259).

47 Forke, 2: 258-59; Lun-heng chiao-shih, 1: 187-88.

48 T'ai-p'ing yu-lan, 742.5a, quoting Han shu; Chavannes, 2: 303-4; Nienhauser et al., The Grand Scribe's Records, vol. 1: The Basic Annals of Pre-Han China (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1994), 200; Shih chi, 7.325 (the last three quotations on the case of Fan Tseng [Chinese Text Omitted]).
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Title Annotation:frequently mentioned character in classical Chinese literary sources
Author:Schilling, Dennis; Ptak, Roderich
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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