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Tian Dan is about to Attack the Di



Tian Dan[1] was about to attack the Di[2]. As he was leaving, he saw Master Lu Zhong[3]. Master Zhong said, "You are going to attack the Di, but you will not be able to overthrow them."

Tian Dan said, "With a town of five li, having suburbs of seven li, and leading the crushed remnants of our fleeing troops, I broke Yan - a state of ten thousand chariots - and restored Qi from the ruins. How could I attack the Di and not overthrow them?" He got into his carriage and left without bidding farewell. He then proceeded to attack the Di. Three months passed, and he had still not defeated them. 




The children of Qi had a song that went, "With a hat bigger than a winnowing basket and a sword so long that it reaches his chin, he attacks the Di but can't bring it off, beneath the ramparts of Wuqiu[4]." 

Tian Dan then became frightened and asked Master Lu Zhong's advice, saying, "Professor, you said that I would not be able to overthrow the Di. Please allow me to hear your arguments."

Master Lu Zhong said, "When you were in Jimo[5] you sat and wove baskets and then stood with a shovel at your side[6], exhorting your troops, saying, 'How[7] can we leave? Our ancestral shrines will be lost! Our days are almost up[8]! Where would we return to?' At that time, you had a mind to die, and your officers and men had lost any hope of surviving. When they heard such words, there was none among them who did not wipe away his tears and stiffened their sinews, desiring battle. Thus you succeeded in breaking Yan. Now you are have been granted Yeyi[9] in the East, and you take your ease by the Zi River[10] to the west; wearing a golden belt you gallop back and forth between the Zi and the Sheng[11], enjoying life, with no mind to die. This is why you will not win."

Tian Dan said, "Now I have a mind to; you have recalled it to me." The next day he went out to raise the troops' morale with a tour of the defences[12]. He stood within the range of the arrows and slings, and beat the drums himself. The Di were thus overthrown.

[1] Tian Dan was a celebrated Qi strategist. He was also known as Lord Anping. 

[2] "Di" was a generic name for non-Chinese peoples living west of Qin. 

[3] Lu Zhonglian was a scholar at the Jixia Academy. He was initially reluctant to take office, but became famous as a diplomat.

[4] The commentaries disagree regarding the meaning of this last sentence, and this is an attempt to render it as given in the text. It is not clear where Wuqiu was, if it even existed.

[5] Jimo was in modern Pingdu County, Shandong. The story of Tian Dan's defence of the city is given in previous chapters. 

[6] Reading 杖 for 丈 here, per the commentaries. The interpretation follows other modern translations. The implication of the sentence seems to be that he shared his men's hardships during the siege of Jimo.

[7] Reading 何 for 可 here, per the commentaries. 

[8] The precise reading of this sentence is uncertain, but the general sense is clear.

[9] Yeyi is now Laizhou in Shandong. 

[10] The Zi River is in Shandong. 

[11] The Sheng River rose near Linzi, the capital of Qi.

[12] Yao suggests 脩 for 循 here. 


The Incident on the Pu River


During the incident on the Pu River[1], Master Zhui[2] was killed and Zhang Zi[3] fled. Master Pan[4] spoke to the King of Qi[5], saying: "There would be nothing better than to send our surplus grain to Song. The King of Song[6] will certainly be delighted, and the Liang family will not dare to cross Song to attack Qi. Qi is obviously weak, and thus we can use our surplus grain to gain Song's support. Qi's strength will be revitalised, so if the debt is repaid by Song, that is an acceptable outcome, and if they do not compensate us it will be an excuse to attack them[7], which is also an acceptable outcome. 

[1] The Pu River was in Heze, Shandong. The "incident" was a battle between Qi and Wei.

[2] According to the commentaries, this was his first name. I have seen modern translations give 聲 for 贅, in which case he was called Master Sheng. 

[3] Kuang Zhang was a general in Qi. 

[4] Tian Pan was an intellectual and policy consultant in Qi.

[5] I am not sure which King is indicated here.

[6] It is not clear which King of Song is indicated here.

[7] According to the commentaries, the 而 here may be superfluous.


King Min of Qi Meets his Death



When King Min of Qi[1] met his death, his son, Fazhang[2], changed his name and became a menial labourer in the Taishi household in Ju[3]. Taishi Jiao's[4] daughter[5] noticed something unusual in Fashang's appearance, and realised that he was no ordinary man. She sympathised with him, and regularly stole food and clothes for him; their relationship grew intimate. All the servants of the state who had fled Qi had gathered together in Ju. They hoped to seek out the son of King Min, wishing to put him on the throne. Fazhang thus spoke up and identified himself in Ju, and they elevated him to the throne as King Xiang. Having been enthroned, King Xiang made the girl from the Taishi family his Queen, and she gave birth to a son, Jian[6]. Taishi Jiao said, "The girl had no matchmaker[7] but married anyway; she is no offspring of mine. She has polluted my family." To the end of his days, he never saw her again. Queen Jun was wise and did not let this refusal to see her become a reason to neglect the proper etiquette between parent and child.


King Xiang died and his son Jian became King of Qi. Queen Jun worked cautiously with Qin and built up her credibility with the sovereign lords. This is why King Jian survived over forty[8] years without suffering any military incursions.


Qin Shi Huang[9] once sent[10] envoys to Queen Jun with two interlocking jade rings, saying, "Qi is very clever. Clever enough[11] to undo these rings?" Queen Jun showed them to her assembled private secretaries. They did not know how to separate them.

Queen Jun took a hammer[12] and smashed them. She thanked the envoys, saying, "We have carefully separated them for you."


When Queen Jun was sick and dying, she warned King Jian, saying, "Of all your private secretaries, you should only employ..."

Jian said, "Please write down their names."

Queen Jun said, "Very well." A brush and bamboo slips[13] were brought to record her words, but Queen Jun said, "I have already forgotten...[14]"



Queen Jun died and Hou Sheng[15] then became Chancellor of Qi. He received many jewels and much gold from Qin's agents, and sent various members of his household to Qin. They all then employed devious arguments to persuade the King to pay homage in the court of Qin, rather than taking care to prepare for war. 

[1] The Pu River was in Heze, Shandong. The "affair" was a battle between Qi and Wei.

[2] Fazhang later ruled Qi under the name King Xiang (283–265 BC).

[3] Ju was formerly an independent state, but later became a Qi stronghold.

[4] Reading 徼 for 摼 here, per the commentaries. 

[5] She would later reign as Queen Jun.

[6] King Jian (264–221 BC) was the last King of Qi, and so does not have a posthumous name.

[7] Reading 媒 for 謀, per the commentaries. 

[8] The commentaries suggest that the 四 here is superfluous, and this should read "ten years", but forty fits better with Jian's reign dates.

[9] At the time Qin Shihuang was still known as King Zheng of Qin (247 – 210 BC). He would later conquer the other states and rule the empire.

[10] The commentaries suggest reading 遣 for 使 here.

[11] Yao suggests reading 能 for 而 here.

[12] The commentaries suggest reading 錐椎 for 椎椎 here.

[13] For writing on.

[14] Reading 忘 for 亡 here, per the commentaries.

[15] This may be one of Queen Jun's relations.

King Jian of Qi Goes to Pay Homage at the Qin Court



When King Jian of Qi[1] was leaving to pay homage at the court of Qin, the Yong Gate[2] Cavalry Captain said to him, "When you took the throne, was it for the spirits of earth and grain, or did you do it for yourself?" 

The King said, "For the spirits of earth and grain."

The Cavalry Captain said, "If you became king for the spirits of earth and grain, why are you leaving them behind and going to Qin?" The King of Qi turned his carriage around and returned home. A senior official from Jimo[3] heard[4] that the Yong Gate Cavalry Captain's remonstrances had been listened to, and believed that he too had a plan to offer[5], and so he obtained an audience with the King, saying, "Qi is several thousand square li, guarded by hundreds of thousands[6] of men-at-arms. The senior officials of the Three Jin are obstacles in Qin's way, and between E[7] and Juan[8] there are hundreds of them[9]. If you welcome them and unite with them, your ranks will be millions strong. Send them to retake the former lands of the Three Jin, and then they can enter Qin via the Linjin Pass[10]. The senior officials of Yanying[11] have no desire to work for Qin, and there are hundreds of them beyond our southern walls. If you receive them and join them, then you will have millions of troops. Send them to retake Chu's former lands, and then they can enter Qin via the Wu Pass[12]. In this way, Qi's greatness could be established, and the state of Qin be wiped out, but you are abandoning your south-facing royal position[13] to face west and serve Qin. This not acceptable behaviour for a great king." The King of Qi did not listen.



Qin dispatched Chen Chi[14] to induce the King of Qi to come to Qin, with an agreement to grant him five hundred li of land. The King of Qi did not listen to the official from Jimo, but rather to Chen Chi. Consequently, King Jian went to Qin. Qin settled him among the pines and cypresses in the wilderness of Gong[15], where he starved to death. Even before he expired, the people of Qi had come up with a song about him, with the lyrics, "Ah, the pines! Ah, the cypresses! Those who sent Jian to Gong were once his guests!"[16] 

[1] King Jian (264–221 BC) was the last King of Qi, and so does not have a posthumous name.

[2] Yongmen was the West gate of Linzi, the capital of Qi. 

[3] Jimo was in modern Pingdu County, Shandong. The story of Tian Dan's defence of the city is given in previous chapters. 

[4] Reading 聞 for 與 here, per the commentaries. 

[5] The commentaries disagree regarding the precise reading of this sentence, but the general sense is clear.

[6] Reading 十 for 百, per the commentaries.

[7] E is now Dong'e County, Shandong.

[8] Juan is now Juancheng in Shandong.

[9] They would have fled to Qi following the collapse of their own states.

[10] This was in modern Dali County, Shaanxi.

[11] Yanying was the capital of Chu, it was just North of modern Jingzhou, in Hubei.

[12] The Wu Pass was in mordern Dafeng County, Shaanxi.

[13] In a royal audience the ruler would face south and the subordinate addressing him would face north.

[14] A Qi politician whose loyalty had been purchased by Qin.

[15] Gong was in modern Hui County, Henan.

[16] I.e. the members of Jian's entourage whose loyalty had been bought by Qin.

Lord Nao's Insurrection


Lord Nao's[1] insurrection altered the relationship between Qi and Qin[2], but when it was over, Qin wished to bring Qi over to its side, so it dispatched Su Juan[3] to Chu and sent Ren Gu[4] to Qi. Qi Ming[5] spoke to the King of Chu[6], saying, "The King of Qin[7] wants Chu on his side, but not as much as he wants Qi. If he has sent Juan here, it is to show Qi that he has already acquired Chu's backing, thereby bolstering Gu in Qi. When Qi sees what is happening in Chu, Gu will certainly be well-received. This being so, if you listen to Juan, it will be just the thing to help Gu in his push for an accord between Qi and Qin. If Qi and Qin form an accord, it will not be to Chu's benefit, and what Juan came here to say is definitely not what Gu is saying in Qi[8]. Your Majesty could do nothing better than to have someone carry Juan's deceptive speeches[9] to Qi. Then Qi and Qin will definitely not form an accord. If Qi and Qin do not form an accord, then Your Majesty will be more influential. If you then choose to seek Qi's support and attack Qin you will be able to acquire Hanzhong[10], while if you wish to use Qin to attack Qi you will be able to acquire the land between the Huai River[11] and the Si[12]."

[1] Nao Chi, the Chancellor of Qi who killed King Min. This episode takes place in the aftermath of Min's death. 

[2] Yao suggests 讎秦 for 秦 here, which would translate to "as a result of the disorder provoked by Lord Nao, Qi and Qin became enemies". It is not clear why this would be the case, since Nao Chi was from Chu rather than Qin. Conversely, Bao suggests 事秦 for 秦, which would translate as "as a result of the disorder provoked by Lord Nao, Qi began serving Qin's interests". In this case the next sentence would be a reference to a formal treaty rather than informal support. Meanwhile, modern translations suggest Chu for Qin in this sentence. The commentaries agree that this chapter is likely corrupt. Thus, while the translation here does not follow the text precisely, it allows for multiple interpretations, just as the original does.

[3] Su Juan is not otherwise well-known. 

[4] Ren Gu is not otherwise well-known. 

[5] Qi Ming is mentioned as a celebrated persuader in the records of the Grand Historian.

[6] King Qingxiang of Chu (298–263 BC) was the son of King Huai, and ascended the throne while his father was still held prisoner in Qin. 

[7] King Zhaoxiang of Qin (306–251 BC) began life as a relatively minor prince, and served as a child hostage in Zhao before being sneaked out by Queen Xuan (his mother), her brother Wei Ran, and King Wuling of Zhao to assume the throne following the premature death of his brother, King Wu. Upon coming of age, he exiled Queen Xuan and Wei Ran, and worked with a succession of important figures of the age (Gan Mao, Fan Ju, Bai Qi...) to expand Qin's territory during the course of a long and successful reign.

[8] The commentaries disagree regarding the precise reading of this sentence, but the general sense is clear. 

[9] The commentaries suggest that the 來 here is superfluous. 

[7] Hanzhong is still called Hanzhong, and is in modern Shaanxi. At the time it was contested territory between Qin and Chu.

[8] The Huai River is midway between the Yellow River and the Yangtze.

[9] The Si River is in Shandong.

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