(65.4) Wéi Yào 韋曜 [Hóngsì 弘嗣]

Wéi Yào, appellation Hóngsì, was a Wú-jùn Yúnyáng man. (1) From youth he was good at his studies, able to write prose, served in the staff of the Chancellor, was appointed Magistrate of Xī’ān, returned as Secretariat Gentleman, and promoted to Palace Companion to the Heir-Apparent.

韋曜字弘嗣,吳郡雲陽人也。〔一〕少好學,能屬文,從丞相掾,除西安令,還為尚書郎,遷太子中庶子。

  • Yào was originally named Zhāo. Historians because of the Jìn naming prohibition [due to Sīmǎ Zhāo] changed it.

〔一〕 曜本名昭,史為晉諱,改之。

At the time Cài Yǐng was also at the East Palace [of the Heir-Apparent], and by nature enjoyed playing games [like Encircling Chess]. The Heir-Apparent [Sūn] Hé believed this had no benefit, and ordered Yào to comment on it. His [Wéi Yào’s] letter said:

時蔡穎亦在東宮,性好博弈,太子和以為無益,命曜論之。其辭曰:

“One always hears that when the superior gentleman is disgraced in later years and his achievements are not established, he hates that he will leave the world with his reputation not praised. Therefore it is said that when studies are not done promptly it is as losing opportunity. That is why ambitious scholars of the past grieved as time passed and feared their achievement and reputation could not be established, and so they did their utmost, rising early and sleeping late, with no time for recreation, and bitterly toiled for many years and moons in daily exertion, just like the diligence of Níng Yuè and the studiousness of Master Dǒng [Zhòngshū], immersing themselves in the pools of virtue and justice and traveling to the lands of principle and skill. Moreover, even the saintliness of Xī-Bó [Zhōu Wén-wáng] and the ability of Lord Jì [Zhōu-gōng] yet required continuous toil all day, and this was able to raise up and flourish the Way of Zhōu, to be passed down through countless ages. So all the more for common subjects; how can they stop? Looking at records of masters with achievement and reputation from ancient times to now, all had accumulated special legacies, labored bitterly hard, thought diligently and broadly, in easy situations did not abandon their work and in hard times did not change their mission, and thus Bǔ Shì had ambitions even as he plowed and herded, while Huáng Bà learned the Way in prison, and in the end they received the good fortune of honor and fame and so obtained an immortal name. Therefore [Zhòng] Shānfǔ worked hard morning and night, while Wú Hàn would not leave public gates. How can they have had lazy wanderings?

蓋聞君子恥當年而功不立,疾沒世而名不稱,故曰學如不及,猶恐失之。是以古之志士,悼年齒之流邁而懼名稱之不立也,故勉精厲操,晨興夜寐,不遑寧息,經之以歲月,累之以日力,若甯越之勤,董生之篤,漸漬德義之淵,棲遲道藝之域。且以西伯之聖,姬公之才,猶有日昃待旦之勞,故能隆興周道,垂名億載,況在臣庶,而可以已乎?歷觀古今立功名之士,皆有累積殊異之跡,勞身苦體,契闊勤思,平居不墮其業,窮困不易其素,是以卜式立志於耕牧,而黃霸受道於囹圄,終有榮顯之福,以成不朽之名。故山甫勤於夙夜,而吳漢不離公門,豈有游惰哉?

“Of the people of the present many do not attend to the classics and arts, and instead enjoy playing games, abandoning affairs and discarding work, neglecting sleep and food, using up the light of day and continuing by candle light. When they overlook the game board and battle, victory and defeat yet undecided, they focus all their greatest attention, laboring their minds and exhausting their bodies, personal affairs are neglected and not fixed, visitors travel and arrive but have no one to receive them, and even if there is the greatest food delicacies or the most pleasant music, they are too busy to appreciate it. It has reached the point that some gamble even their clothes, and move their residence in order to play more easily. Their understanding of honor and shame slackens, while they show appearances of anger and ruthlessness, even though their ambition does not exceed above a single game and their pursuits do not leave the squares of the board, victories over enemies have no rewards, and capturing of territory [on the board] have no real territorial gains. This skill [of board games] is not one of the Six Arts, and has no use in governing the state. Those to be enthroned do not ascend using its techniques, and selection and recruitment is not done using that its ways. If seeking to learn of the battlefield, it is not the same as learning from Sūn [Wǔ] and Wú [Qǐ]. If examining morality and skill, it is not the Kǒng family [school of thought]. It teaches to seek opportunity to exploit and cheat, and is not a loyal and sincere matter. It gives reputation to robbing and killing, and is not the thinking of the benevolent. Further it is empty waste of sunlight and abandons work, and in the end has no benefit. How is it any different from setting up a wood pole and hitting it, or putting up a stone target and throwing at it? Moreover a superior gentlemen in his residence must work hard personally to support [his parents], in Court must exhaustively devote his life to loyal service [to his ruler], so when overlooking affairs must postpone eating, so how can they have the ability to indulge in games? Therefore, if filial and friendly behavior is established, it manifests chaste and pure reputation.

今世之人多不務經術,好翫博弈,廢事棄業,忘寢與食,窮日盡明,繼以脂燭。當其臨局交爭,雌雄未決,專精銳意,心勞體倦,人事曠而不脩,賓旅闕而不接,雖有太牢之饌,韶夏之樂,不暇存也。至或賭及衣物,徙棋易行,廉恥之意弛,而忿戾之色發,然其所志不出一枰之上,所務不過方罫之閒,勝敵無封爵之賞,獲地無兼土之實,技非六藝,用非經國;立身者不階其術,徵選者不由其道。求之於戰陳,則非孫、吳之倫也;考之於道藝,則非孔氏之門也;以變詐為務,則非忠信之事也;以劫殺為名,則非仁者之意也;而空妨日廢業,終無補益。是何異設木而擊之,置石而投之哉!且君子之居室也勤身以致養,其在朝也竭命以納忠,臨事且猶旰食,而何博弈之足耽?夫然,故孝友之行立,貞純之名彰也。

“Now though our Great Wú has received the Mandate, Within the Seas is not yet pacified, our Court must ever strive, and work to win over the people, and so warriors with valor and cunning should then receive bear and tiger [military] appointment, and scholars with classical refinement should then receive dragon and phoenix [civil] office, with all working together, both civil and military striving on, extensively seeking out the talented, honoring out the heroic, establish examination systems, set up bestowal of rewards, that would truly be a auspicious occasion out of a thousand records and a great opportunity out of a hundred generations. The scholars of the present age should make an effort to think of reaching the way, love achievement and treasure ability, and thus assist [in creating] an enlightened time and cause their name to be written in historical records, honored in all government offices. This is the greatest affair of the superior gentleman, and at present is of the most urgency.

方今大吳受命,海內未平,聖朝乾乾,務在得人,勇略之士則受熊虎之任,儒雅之徒則處龍鳳之署,百行兼苞,文武並騖,博選良才,旌簡髦俊,設程試之科,垂金爵之賞,誠千載之嘉會,百世之良遇也。當世之士,宜勉思至道,愛功惜力,以佐明時,使名書史籍,勳在盟府,乃君子之上務,當今之先急也。

“How can a wooden game board compare with a state fief? How can three hundred withered game pieces compare with command of ten thousand men? Imperial Dragon robes and the music of metal and stone are sufficient to match the enjoyment of games. If the present people moved their energy from games and instead employed them [to studying] the Shī and Shū, then there would be the ambition of Yán [Huí] and Mǐn [Sǔn]. If they employed it to intelligence and planning then there would be the thinking of [Zhāng] Liáng and [Chén] Píng. If they employed it to resources, then there would be the wealthy of Yīdùn. If they employed it to shooting and riding, then there would be the preparations of military commanders. In this way, achievement and fame could be established while the lowly and despicable would be distant.”

夫一木之枰孰與方國之封?枯棋三百孰與萬人之將?袞龍之服,金石之樂,足以兼棋局而貿博弈矣。假令世士移博弈之力而用之於詩書,是有顏、閔之志也;用之於智計,是有良、平之思也;用之於資貨,是有猗頓之富也;用之於射御,是有將帥之備也。如此則功名立而鄙賤遠矣。


After [Sūn] Hé was deposed, he became Yellow Gate Attendant-Cadet. When Sūn Liàng ascended, Zhūgě Kè assisted the government, and memorialized Yào to be Director of Scribes and compile a Wúshū “History of Wú,” with Huà Hé, Xuē Yíng, and others all assisting together. When Sūn Xiū ascended, he became Palace Librarian Official and Academician Libationer. [Sūn Xiū] ordered Yào to follow the example of Liú Xiàng and proofread and correct all the books, and also wished to have Yào be an Attendant Conversationalist. However, General of the Left Zhāng Bù was close [to Sūn Xiū] and commonly received favor, but in his affairs had many faults, and feared Yào becoming Attendant Conversationalist and Classicist Scholar and also that he was also by nature was shrewd and precise. [Zhāng Bù] feared that he would use ancient and present examples to warn Xiū, and so firmly argued it could not be permitted. Xiū deeply resented Bù, as told in Xiū’s biography [SGZ 48]. However Yào indeed was stopped and did not enter [Court].

和廢後,為黃門侍郎。孫亮即位,諸葛恪輔政,表曜為太史令,撰吳書,華覈、薛瑩等皆與參同。孫休踐阼,為中書郎、博士祭酒。命曜依劉向故事,校定眾書。又欲延曜侍講,而左將軍張布近習寵幸,事行多玷,憚曜侍講儒士,又性精确,懼以古今警戒休意,固爭不可。休深恨布,語在休傳。然曜竟止不入。


When Sūn Hào ascended, he was given fief as Marquis of Gāolíng, promoted to Internal Documents Deputy Director with previous duties, became Attendant Internal and always held office as Left State Historian.

孫皓即位,封高陵亭侯,遷中書僕射,職省,為侍中,常領左國史。

At the time there were frequent reports of good omens in answer [to the ascension]. Hào asked Yào about these, and Yào answered: “These are only commonplace things men [report to receive favor] and that is all.” Hào also wished that [the history chapter on] his father Hé be made an Annals, but Yào argued that because Hé had never ascended the Imperial Throne [the chapter] should be called a Biography. These were not isolated incidents, and gradually he met blame and anger [from Sūn Hào].

時所在承指數言瑞應。皓以問曜,曜答曰:「此人家筐篋中物耳。」又皓欲為父和作紀,曜執以和不登帝位,宜名為傳。如是者非一,漸見責怒。

Yào was increasingly anxious, and so on the grounds of his great age asked to resign his two posts as Attendant and Historian, begging to complete his own books to pass down to others. Hào to the end would not agree. At the time he was ill, and received medical care and urgent treatments.

曜益憂懼,自陳衰老,求去侍、史二官,乞欲成所造書,以從業別有別付,皓終不聽。時有疾病,醫藥監護,持之愈急。


Every time Hào held a banquet, there were none that did not last all day, and all those seated [in attendance] none were permitted not to drink less than seven shēng [~1.4L of alcohol] as a limit. Even those who could not drink anymore had it forced down. Yào could not drink more than two shēng [~0.4L]. Previously, he received special favor for a time, and was always allowed to drink less, or else secretly bestowed with tea in place of alcohol, but when his favor declined, he was forced [to drink] and at once received punishment [for being unable to drink].

皓每饗宴,無不竟日,坐席無能否率以七升為限,雖不悉入口,皆澆灌取盡。曜素飲酒不過二升,初見禮異時,常為裁減,或密賜茶荈以當酒,至於寵衰,更見偪彊,輒以為罪。

Also, after drinking, [Sūn Hào] sent Attendants to insult the Excellencies and Ministers in order to mock them, and had them expose each others’ private faults for fun. At the time if there was a transgression or violation of Hào’s taboos [lèse-majesté], then at once they were bound and put to death.

又於酒後使侍臣難折公卿,以嘲弄侵克,發摘私短以為歡。時有愆過,或誤犯皓諱,輒見收縛,至於誅戮。

Yào believed that if outside the ministers all harmed [each other] then inside they would be very resentful, causing everyone to not be supportive of each other, and that this was not good. Therefore he only scolded by asking difficult questions about meanings and opinions on the classics and nothing more. Hào believed this was not in obedience to Imperial Order and not earnestly loyal, and therefore this combined with all his previous resentment and anger, and he had Yào arrested and sent to prison. That year was Fènghuáng second year [273].

曜以為外相毀傷,內長尤恨,使不濟濟,非佳事也,故但示難問經義言論而已。皓以為不承用詔命,意不忠盡,遂積前後嫌忿,收曜付獄,是歲鳳皇二年也。


Yào had the jailer send up his message: “I the imprisoned received favor and met compassion that none could compare with, but had no grain or yak to repay Your Highness with, and so I dishonored your special favor, and brought upon myself the worst crime. Now I am about to become ash, forever discarded to the Yellow Underworld, and I am miserable and mournful, and harbor a regret, and so wish to send a message to Your Highness. I the imprisoned in the past observed that in present times there many notes to ancient records, of which much that is written down is false, and much of what is in books and works are also mistaken and erroneous. I checked the records and examined the similarities and discrepancies, selected out relevant information, to compile a Dòngjì ‘Thorough Annals,’ from Páoxī [Fúxī] to Qín and Hàn, altogether three volumes. From Huángwǔ [222-229] to now, I am composing a separate volume, but this matter is not yet complete. Also I have read Liú Xī‘s compiled Shìmíng “Interpreting Names” [a dictionary], and though it has many fine aspects, yet its topics are varied and numerous, so rarely is it comprehensive and thorough, and therefore at times there are errors, such as with the matter of noble title, there are mistakes. I believe that titles and honors are now an urgent affair, and should have mistakes. I the imprisoned, neglecting my own lowliness, also Guānzhíxùn ‘Instructions on Bureaucratic Office’ and Biàn Shìmíng ‘Discussed Interpreting Names,’ each one volume, and wish to memorialize them up to Your Highness. They were newly written and just completed, when due to my rudeness I was imprisoned to await judgment and vanished from the sun. I regret not presenting these up, and so sincerely as I face death I beg to send up word to the sacred office, to let them go out and collect my works, and present them inside to inform you. Recalling [my work] and fearing that it is shallow and inferior, and not in keeping with your Heavenly expectations, I hold myself in terror with short breaths, and beg to receive pity and be spared.”

曜因獄吏上辭曰:「囚荷恩見哀,無與為比,曾無芒氂有以上報,孤辱恩寵,自陷極罪。念當灰滅,長棄黃泉,愚情慺慺,竊有所懷,貪令上聞。囚昔見世閒有古曆注,其所紀載既多虛無,在書籍者亦復錯謬。囚尋按傳記,考合異同,采摭耳目所及,以作洞紀,起自庖犧,至于秦、漢,凡為三卷,當起黃武以來,別作一卷,事尚未成。又見劉熙所作釋名,信多佳者,然物類眾多,難得詳究,故時有得失,而爵位之事,又有非是。愚以官爵,今之所急,不宜乖誤。囚自忘至微,又作官職訓及辯釋名各一卷,欲表上之。新寫始畢,會以無狀,幽囚待命,泯沒之日,恨不上聞,謹以先死列狀,乞上言祕府,於外料取,呈內以聞。追懼淺蔽,不合天聽,抱怖雀息,乞垂哀省。」


Yào hoped to with this escape, but Hào was instead bewildered by the letter’s dirtiness and because of this again interrogated Yào. Yào answered: “When I the imprisoned compiled this letter, I truly wished to memorialize to Your Highness, but was afraid there were errors, and repeatedly reread it, and without realizing dirtied it. To be asked about this I tremble [in fear] and breath rapidly and stammer. I sincerely give apologies and bow my head five hundred times with my own two hands beat myself.”

曜冀以此求免,而皓更怪其書之垢,故又以詰曜。曜對曰:「囚撰此書,實欲表上,懼有誤謬,數數省讀,不覺點污。被問寒戰,形氣吶吃。謹追辭叩頭五百下,兩手自搏。」

Also Huà Hé continuously sent up memorials pleading for Yào:

“Yào is one seen by good fortune in a thousand ages, specially received [Imperial] compassion and appreciation, and for his classicist learning was appointed as historian, wore diāo chán “sable cicada [insignia]” as an inner attendant, served in answer to Heavenly [Imperial] questions and to the Court with benevolence and sincerity, carefully grieved for the departed, and at the time of welcoming spirits, [the Emperor] shed tears and appointed Yào. Yào was ignorant and confused, and could not proclaim Your Majesty’s greatness of the sort as Dà-Shùn, instead rigidly constraining himself to the restraints of his office as historian, so that your sacred orders could not be narrated, your conduct could not be manifest, and so truly Yào for his ignorance committed an capital offense. However, I your servant very humbly observe Yào from youth was diligent in studies, and even in old age he is untiring, delving into the ancient books and cannons, recalling the past to understand the future, so that in understanding the classics and records from ancient times to now, among the outer officials few can surpass Yào.

“In the past Lǐ Líng was a Hàn General. When his army was defeated he did not return but surrendered to the Xiōngnú. Sīmǎ Qiān did not join denouncing [Lǐ Líng], and plead on [Lǐ] Líng’s behalf. Hàn Wǔdì [-114-87], because Qiān had the ability of a great historian, wished to allow him to complete his compilation, and restrained [his anger] and did not execute him, so the book was completed, and passed down without end. Now Yào is at Wú, just like Hàn had [Sīmǎ] Qiān as its historian.

“Looking from beginning to end for auspicious signs and omens, directions of spirits and answers from heaven, repeatedly they appear, signifying that the time of reunification is no longer too far away. After the matter of pacification, it will be time to establish regulations. The Three Imperials did not copy each others ceremonies, and the Five Emperors did not copy each others traditions and music. Each culture had their own unique aspects, with good and bad and difference in form, so it is suitable to have the sort of people as Yào to understand ancient principles for correction and establishment. When Hàn succeeded Qín, it then had Shūsūn Tōng formulate a [new] system of ceremonies for the whole dynasty. Yào’s ability and learning is also of the sort as Hàn’s [Shūsūn] Tōng.

“Also, though the Wúshū ‘History of Wú’ already has its basic outline, its narration and interpretation is not yet finished. In the past Bān Gù compiled the Hànshū ‘History of Hàn,’ and its language was refined. Later Liú Zhēn, Liú Yì, and others compiled the Hànjì “Annals of Hàn,” and it was far off from matching [Bān] Gù, and its narration of traditions was exceedingly inferior. Now Wúshū is about to be passed down through a thousand ages, it will be handed down by all historians, and later talented scholars will discuss its merits and faults, so it cannot be without the sort of great talent as Yào’s, or else it will truly be unable to be an immortal book. A servant who is foolish and ignorant, that is not this man.

“Yào is already seventy and has few years remaining, so we beg to reduce his punishment by one grade to spend the rest of his life in exile, so that he could complete his writings, and let it be ever passed down through a hundred generations. I earnestly send up this memorial, and bow my head a hundred times.”

而華覈連上疏救曜曰:「曜運值千載,特蒙哀識,以其儒學,得與史官,貂蟬內侍,承合天問,聖朝仁篤,慎終追遠,迎神之際,垂涕敕曜。曜愚惑不達,不能敷宣陛下大舜之美,而拘繫史官,使聖趣不敘,至行不彰,實曜愚蔽當死之罪。然臣慺慺,見曜自少勤學,雖老不倦,探綜墳典,溫故知新,及意所經識古今行事,外吏之中少過曜者。昔李陵為漢將,軍敗不還而降匈奴,司馬遷不加疾惡,為陵遊說,漢武帝以遷有良史之才,欲使畢成所撰,忍不加誅,書卒成立,垂之無窮。今曜在吳,亦漢之史遷也。伏見前後符瑞彰著,神指天應,繼出累見,一統之期,庶不復久。事平之後,當觀時設制,三王不相因禮,五帝不相沿樂,質文殊塗,損益異體,宜得曜輩依準古義,有所改立。漢氏承秦,則有叔孫通定一代之儀,曜之才學亦漢通之次也。又吳書雖已有頭角,敘贊未述。昔班固作漢書,文辭典雅,後劉珍、劉毅等作漢記,遠不及固,敘傳尤劣。今吳書當垂千載,編次諸史,後之才士論次善惡,非得良才如曜者,實不可使闕不朽之書。如臣頑蔽,誠非其人。曜年已七十,餘數無幾,乞赦其一等之罪,為終身徒,使成書業,永足傳示,垂之百世。謹通進表,叩頭百下。」

Hào would not permit this, and so executed Yào, and exiled his family to Línglíng. [Yào’s] son Lóng also had literary learning.

皓不許,遂誅曜,徙其家零陵。子隆,亦有文學也。

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