Wáng Fán, appellation Yǒngyuán, was a Lújiāng man. He read and studied extensively, and was also skilled in calendar calculation and the arts. He began as a Secretariat official, but resigned his office. When Sūn Xiū ascended, he and Hè Shào, Xuē Yíng, and Yú Sì were all appointed Scattered Cavalry Regular Palace Attendants, and all made Imperial Relative Commandant. At the time he was said to be elegant and refined. He was sent as envoy to Shǔ, the people of Shǔ praised him, and he returned as Supervisor of the Army of Xiàkǒu.
At the beginning of the reign of Sūn Hào, he returned as a Regular Attendant, with the same office as Wàn Yù. Yù had known Hào for a long time, but was a common person recently come to power, and said that Fán had made light of him. There was also a Palace Library Deputy Chén Shēng who was one of Hào’s favored ministers, who repeatedly slandered Fán. Fán by nature was of high and noble character who could not calmly bear follow certain orders, and so at times would stubbornly refuse some, and over time he accumulated criticisms.
Gānlù second year , Dīng Zhōng the envoy to Jìn returned. Hào summoned a great banquet with his ministers. Fán became very intoxicated and fell over, and Hào was suspicious [that he was being disrespectful] and very displeased, and had Fán carried out. Shortly afterward he asked to return, but the effects of the wine could not have ended, yet Fán’s expression was very dignified and his movements were composed. Hào was extremely angry, and called for his attendants to drag him outside the palace and behead him. General of the Guard Téng Mù and General Attacking the West Liú Píng plead on his behalf, but were unsuccessful. (1)
- (1) Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: Hào followed the words of a shaman who said that the Jiànyè palace was unfavorable, and therefore went west to Wǔchāng, but though he planned to move the capital he was afraid the various ministers would not follow, so he called together a great banquet and bestowed invitations to the officials. He asked Fán: “When an arrow does not pierce leather, it is because the strength was not sufficient. What do you say of that?” Fán thought long without answer, so he ordered Fán be brought up to the palace and beheaded. He went out and climbed Lái mountain, and had his trusted general throw Fán’s head over, and the sound of the crash was like the leap of tigers or fighting of wolves. The head was completely shattered, as a demonstration so that none would dare offend him.
- This is in contradiction to the base biography.
- Wúlù states: Every time Hào was at a banquet, he would become intoxicated and then order his attendants to ridicule the high ministers, and laugh and make merry. Wàn Yù was Left Chancellor, and Fán ridiculed Yù: “Whenever a fish dives into deep abyss, from the water comes foam. Why is this? Everything has its own nature, and one cannot cross boundaries and overstep bounds. Yù came from creeks and grain fields, has the heart of a sheep beneath the skin of a tiger, is empty but receives bright favor, stepping past the seats of the Three [Excellencies] and the Nine [Ministers]. Even dogs and horses known how to be useful, but what has he done to receive such heavy favor?” Yù said: “The Court of Táng Yú had no talents that were falsely raised. The doors of Zàofù had no lame worn out horses. Fán at most falsely slanders wise choices of selection, and at least mocks our foundations. What injury to our times. He has seen much but does not know how to judge and that is all.”
- Your Servant Sōngzhī remarks: The base biography Dīng Zhōng the envoy to Jìn had returned, Hào called a great banquet, and during the banquet killed Fán. Checking that Zhōng returned from the north in the spring of that year, Yù at that time had not yet become Chancellor. It was not until autumn that he became Chancellor and that is all. What Wúlù had said is in contradiction.
Chancellor Lù Kǎi presented a memorial: “Regular Attendant Wáng Fán is reasonable and logical within the Palace, understands the Heavens and all things, and serves the Court loyally to exhaustion, is a crucial support for the State Altars, a dragon that came to our Great Wú! In the past he served our Imperial Jǐng [Sūn Xiū], offered comment on all things, and Jǐng praised his excellence and sighed that he was remarkable. But Your Majesty Descending the Throne was angry at his bitter remarks, hated his frank answers, beheaded him in the Palace Hall, and threw his body away [without burial]. Within the commandaries all are pained in heart, and one should make note of all the sorrowful mourning.” The sorrow for Fán was like this.
Fán died at age thirty-nine. Hào exiled Fán’s family to Guǎngzhōu. His two younger brothers Zhù and Yán were both skilled makers of tools. When Guō Mǎ rebelled, they would not join Mǎ, and so came to harm.