Xǔ Cí, appellation Réndǔ, was a Nányáng man. He studied under Liú Xī, was well learned in Zhèng [Xuán’s works], and researched the Yì [Book of Changes], the Shàngshū [Book of Documents], the three Lǐ, the Máo [edition] Shī, and the Lúnyǔ [Analects]. During Jiàn’ān [196-220] he followed Xǔ Jìng and the others from Jiāozhōu into Shǔ.
At the time there was also Hú Qián, appellation Gōngxīng, of Wèi-jùn, who was unknown and so came to the land of Yì [province]. Though Qián’s education was not extensive, he was very intelligent with powerful memory. The ceremonies of the Ancestral Systems and the numbers of all Mourning Rites, he could draw on the ground with his finger and when he lifted his hand it would be easily understood.
When Xiān-zhǔ [Liú Bèi] settled Shǔ , there had been disturbance and bloodshed for a long time, scholarship had declined, so he gathered classics and records and sifted out many scholars. [Xǔ] Cí and [Hú] Qián became Academic Scholars, and with Mèng Guāng and Lái Mǐn and others were in charge of managing the old literature.
It happened that many affairs became confused and actions led to many misunderstandings, so Cí and Qián quarreled with one another, and slandered and insulted each other, so that they shouted and their faces became colored. When each had gaps in their works, they did not help each other, and at times they even came to blows, so that they each sought to overawe the other, boasting while belittling the other, so things had come to this.
Xiān-zhǔ thought it a pity it had become like this, called a great meeting, and sent performers to act as the two masters and imitate the appearance of the quarrel. They drank and played music, and made merry. In the beginning they each used reason to manage difficulties, but in the end used blade and staff and fought one another. After this [performance, Cí and Qián] were moved and ended it [their quarrel].
Qián died first. In the reign of Hòu-zhǔ [Liú Shàn], Cí eventually reached Chief Ever Autumn [head of Empress’s household], then died. (1) His son Xūn inherited his work, and also became a Academician Scholar.
- Sūn Shèng states: Shǔ had few scholars, so Cí and Qián and the rest all had their stories recorded.