(21.1) Wáng Càn 王粲 [Zhòngxuān 仲宣]

Xú Gàn 徐幹 [Wěicháng 偉長], Chén Lín 陳琳 [Kǒngzhāng 孔璋], Ruǎn Yǔ 阮瑀 [Yuányú 元瑜], Yìng Chàng 應瑒 [Déliǎn 德璉], Liú Zhēn 劉楨 [Gōnggàn 公幹]

Hándān Chún 邯鄲淳 [Zǐshū 子叔], Fán Qīn 繁欽 [Xiūbó 休伯], Lù Cuì 路粹 [Wényù 文蔚], Gǒu Wěi 苟緯 [Gōnggāo 公高]

Yìng Chàng’s younger brother Qú 應璩 [Xiūliǎn 休璉], Qú’s son Zhēn 應貞 [Jífǔ 吉甫]

Ruǎn Yǔ’s son Jí 阮籍 [Sìzōng 嗣宗]

Jī Kāng 嵇康 [Shūyè 叔夜]

Huán Wēi 桓威

Wú Zhì 吳質 [Jìzhòng 季重]

Wáng Càn appellation Zhòngxuān was a Shānyáng Gāopíng man. His great-grandfather [Wáng] Gōng and grandfather [Wáng] Chàng, both were Hàn Three Excellencies. (1) His father [Wáng] Qiān, was General-in-Chief Hé Jìn’s Chief Clerk. [Hé] Jìn because [Wáng] Qiān was a famed Excellency’s descendant, wished to together form marriage-alliance, met his two sons, in order to choose. [Wáng Qiān] did not accept. For illness resigned, died at home.


  • (1) Zhāng Fán’s Hàn jì states: [Wáng] Gōng appellation Bózōng, had high reputation in the world Under Heaven. In Shùn-dì’s time became Excellency Commandant. Earlier, Shānyáng Administrator Xuē Qín for deceased wife did not cry, was about to encoffin, overlooking it said: “Fortunate to not die young, what is there to regret?” When [Wáng] Gōng’s wife died, [Wáng] Gōng with his sons together with cane went in mourning clothes, at the time some people ridiculed the two. [Wáng] Chàng appellation Shūmào was named among the Eight Eminents. In Líng-dì’s time he became Excellency of Works, due to flood disaster was dismissed, and Lǐ Yīng also was dismissed and returned to former prefecture, the two men for their upright guidance were not tolerated at the time. The world Under Heaven because [Wáng] Chàng and [Lǐ] Yīng were high gentlemen, the various direct speaking direct acting followers all revered them, and wished to tread their wake, fearing the would not reach. It happened that continuously there were disasters and strangeness, and those speaking of matters all said the Three Excellencies were not these men, and should therefore be changed, to have [Wáng] Chàng and [Lǐ] Yīng replace them, then auspicious omens would certainly arrive. Because of this the eunuchs deeply resented them, and [Lǐ] Yīng was executed and though [Wáng] Chàng therefore was deposed, he ended at home.

〔一〕 張璠漢紀曰:龔字伯宗,有高名於天下。順帝時為太尉。初,山陽太守薛勤喪妻不哭,將殯,臨之曰:「幸不為夭,復何恨哉?」及龔妻卒,龔與諸子並杖行服,時人或兩譏焉。暢字叔茂,名在八俊。靈帝時為司空,以水災免,而李膺亦免歸故郡,二人以直道不容當時。天下以暢、膺為高士,諸危言危行之徒皆推宗之,願涉其流,惟恐不及。會連有災異,而言事者皆言三公非其人,宜因其變,以暢、膺代之,則禎祥必至。由是宦豎深怨之,及膺誅死而暢遂廢,終于家。

Xiàn-dì westward shifted, Càn moved to Cháng’ān, Left Central Cadet General Cài Yōng met and was impressed with hi. At the time [Cài] Yōng’s talent and scholarship were famed, valued heavily in Court, always chariots and riders filled the alleys, guests filled the seats. Hearing Càn was at the door, with inverted slippers welcomed him. Càn arrived, in years young, appearance and shape short and small, all seated were completely surprised, [Cài] Yōng said: “This is Excellency Wáng’s grandson, with unique talent, I cannot compare. My house’s books and registers and written works, completely should be given to him.”


Aged seventeen years, the Excellency of Works recruited him, Imperial Order appointed him Yellow Gate Attendant Cadet, but as the western capital was disturbed in chaos, all he could not accept. Therefore he went to Jīng Province to depend on Liú Biǎo. [Liú] Biǎo because Càn’s appearance was common and his body weak and openly simple, did not deeply value him. (1)


  • (1) Your servant Sōngzhī states: ‘Appearance was common,’ says that his appearance failed his actual quality. ‘Openly simple’ is simple and easy.

〔一〕 臣松之曰:貌寢,謂貌負其實也。通侻者,簡易也。

[Liú] Biǎo died. Càn urged [Liú] Biǎo’s son [Liú] Cóng, having him submit to Tàizǔ [Cáo Cāo]. (2) Tàizǔ recruited him as a Chancellor’s Official, bestowed noble rank as Marquis Within the Passes. Tàizǔ set liquor at Hànbīn, Càn presented goblet congratulations saying: “Recently Yuán Shào rose at Hé’s north, wielding great army, ambition to occupy the realm Under Heaven, however he liked worthies but could not use them, and therefore eccentric scholars left him. Liú Biǎo was at ease in Jīng-Chǔ, sitting and watching the times change, himself believing Xībó could be imitated. Scholars that fled the chaos to Jīng Province, all were within the seas’ greatest heroes; [Liú] Biǎo did not know how to appoint them, and therefore his state was endangered and without assistance. The day your enlightened excellency settled Jì province, you descended carriage and at once repaired its armor and soldiers, collected its greatest heroes and employed them, and so swept across the realm Under Heaven; reaching to pacifying the Jiāng and Hàn, guiding its worthy eminences and installing them in lines of seats, causing within the seas to join heart, watching and hoping for governance, civil and military together employed, heroes complete strength, this is the Three King’s rise.”


Later he was promoted to Military Planner Libationer. When Wèi was established [213], he was appointed Attendant Internal. Of various things he often knew, when asked he never did not answer. At the time old ceremonies fell into neglect, in raising and establishing systems and regulations, Càn always standardized it. (3)


  • (2) Wénshì zhuàn records Càn’s persuasion of [Liú] Cóng stating:
    • “I your servant have a humble plan, and wish to advance it to you General, is it permitted?”
    • [Liú] Cóng said: “I wish to hear it.”
    • Càn said: “The realm Under Heaven is in great chaos, powerful figures all rise, all of a sudden, strong and weak is not yet divided, and therefore people each and every have their own heart and that is all. Just at this time, family after family wish to be Emperors and Kings, men after men wish to be Dukes and Marquis. Observing the successes and failures of the ancients to the present, those able to first see key opportunities, are then always able to receive their fortunes. Now you General judge yourself, how do you compare to Excellency Cáo?”
    • [Liú] Cóng was not able to reply.
    • Càn again said: “If going by what I Càn have heard, then Excellency Cáo is a hero among men. His power and strategy dominates the times, his intelligence and planning overcomes the age, he destroyed the Yuán clan at Guāndù, drove Sūn Quán beyond the Jiāng, pursued Liú Bèi to Lǒngyòu, defeated the Wūhuán at Bǎidēng, the remaining foreigners swept away and settled, going on and on like a spirit, in ways that cannot be counted. In today’s matter, what will occur already can be known. If you General are able to listen to I Càn’s plan, roll up armor and turn spear, answer Heaven and obey command, and so submit to Excellency Cáo, Excellency Cáo will certainly heavily esteem you General. To protect self and preserve clan, to long enjoy fortune and blessings, and pass it down to later successors, this is the absolutely secure plan. I Càn encountered chaos and exile, entrusted life to this province, was immersed in you General father and son’s heavy care, dare I not thoroughly speak?”
    • [Liú] Cóng accepted these words.
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Sūn Quán from before this time, was still with the central states at peace, and had not yet clashed troops, how can it say ‘drove Quán beyond the Jiāng?’ Wèi Wǔ [Cáo Cāo] in the Thirteenth Year [208] campaigned against Jīng Province, Liú Bèi only after several years then entered Shǔ, [Liú] Bèi never once traveled to the Guān and Lǒng, and yet in the year of campaigning against Jīng Province, it yet says ‘pursued [Liú] Bèi to Lǒngyòu, already it is abnomrally wrong; also Báidēng is in Píngchéng, also where Wèi Wǔ did not travel, the northern campaign against the Wūhuán, with Báidēng was never close to there. By this one can know Zhāng Zhì forged these words, and was not aware his falseness was itself exposed. All that [Zhāng] Zhì falsely forged and absurdly made, cannot be listed, and those of this sort, cannot be compiled.

〔二〕 文士傳載粲說琮曰:「僕有愚計,願進之於將軍,可乎?」琮曰:「吾所願聞也。」粲曰:「天下大亂,豪傑並起,在倉卒之際,彊弱未分,故人各各有心耳。當此之時,家家欲為帝王,人人欲為公侯。觀古今之成敗,能先見事機者,則恆受其福。今將軍自度,何如曹公邪?」琮不能對。粲復曰:「如粲所聞,曹公故人傑也。雄略冠時,智謀出世,摧袁氏於官渡,驅孫權於江外,逐劉備於隴右,破烏丸於白登,其餘梟夷蕩定者,往往如神,不可勝計。今日之事,去就可知也。將軍能聽粲計,卷甲倒戈,應天順命,以歸曹公,曹公必重德將軍。保己全宗,長享福祚,垂之後嗣,此萬全之策也。粲遭亂流離,託命此州,蒙將軍父子重顧,敢不盡言!」琮納其言。臣松之案:孫權自此以前,尚與中國和同,未嘗交兵,何云「驅權於江外」乎?魏武以十三年征荊州,劉備卻後數年方入蜀,備身未嘗涉於關、隴。而於征荊州之年,便云逐備於隴右,既已乖錯;又白登在平城,亦魏武所不經,北征烏丸,與白登永不相豫。以此知張騭假偽之辭,而不覺其虛之自露也。凡騭虛偽妄作,不可覆疏,如此類者,不可勝紀。

  • (3) Zhì Yú’s Juéyí Yāozhù states: At Hàn’s end’s tragic chaos, they were without jade girdle ornaments. Wèi Attendant Internal Wáng Càn noted old girdle ornaments, and first restored making them. The present’s jade girdle ornaments, received their methods from Càn.

〔三〕 摯虞決疑要注曰:漢末喪亂,絕無玉珮。魏侍中王粲識舊珮,始復作之。今之玉珮,受法於粲也。

Previously, Càn with someone together traveled, read a roadside monument, the person asked: “Are you able to blindly recite it?” Said: “Able.” Therefore with his back turned he recited it, and did not miss a single word. Watching people play wéiqí (igo), the board broke, Càn for them restored it, the players did not trust him, with cloth covered the board, and had him again set up another board for them. When comparing them, there was not a single difference. His powerful memory was like this.


By nature he was good at calculation, in making calculations, he thoroughly understood its reasoning. He was good at writing prose, at lifting brush easily completed, without any corrections, at the time people always believed he composed beforehand, however again carefully thinking and deeply considering, they also could not add to it. (1)  He wrote poems, rhapsodies, discussions, comments of sixty piān.


  • (1) Diǎnlüè states: Càn’s talents were high, in debate he responded quickly. Zhōng Yáo, Wáng Lǎng, and others, though each were Wèi’s ministers, in court memorials and comments, all set down brush and were unable to match.

〔一〕 典略曰;粲才既高,辯論應機。鍾繇、王朗等雖各為魏卿相,至於朝廷奏議,皆閣筆不能措手。

Jiàn’ān Twenty-first Year [216], he accompanied the campaign against Wú. Twenty-second year [217] spring, on the road he of illness died, at the time aged forty-one years. Càn’s two sons, were by Wèi Fěng enticed, and were executed, succession cut off. (2)


  • (2) Wénzhāngzhì states: Tàizǔ at the time campaigned in Hànzhōng, heard Càn’s sons had died, and sighed and said: “If I were there, I would not have let Zhòngxuān be without descendants.”

〔二〕 文章志曰:太祖時征漢中,聞粲子死,歎曰:「孤若在,不使仲宣無後。」

Earlier Wén-dì as Five Office General, and Marquis of Píngyuán [Cáo] Zhí both enjoyed literary scholarship. Càn with Běihǎi’s Xú Gàn appellation Wěicháng, Guǎnglíng’s Chén Lín appellation Kǒngzhāng, Chénliú’s Ruǎn Yǔ appellation Yuányú, Rǔnán’s Yìng Chàng appellation Déliǎn, Dōngpíng’s Liú Zhēn appellation Gōnggàn all met with friendly relations.


[Xú] Gàn became Excellency of Works Military Planner Libationer Official and Associate, Five Office General Literary Scholar. (1)


  • (1) Xiānxián Xíngzhuàng states: Gàn was was pure and profound in form and principle, the Six Conducts cultivated and prepared, sharp of hearing and remembered extensively what he heard, grasping brush completed composition, thought little of officialdom and salary, and did not indulge in wordly glory. During Jiàn’ān, Tàizǔ specially added honors, due to illness he rested. Later he was appointed Shàng’ài Chief, also due to illness he did not accept.

〔一〕 先賢行狀曰:幹清玄體道,六行脩備,聰識洽聞,操翰成章,輕官忽祿,不耽世榮。建安中,太祖特加旌命,以疾休息。後除上艾長,又以疾不行。

[Chén] Lín formerly was Hé Jìn’s Registrar. [Hé] Jìn wished to execute the various eunuchs, the Dowager-Empress did not listen, [Hé] Jìn therefore summoned fierce generals everywhere, having all lead troops toward the capital city, wishing to by this coerce and frighten the Dowager-Empress. Lín advanced remonstrant: “The Yì says ‘following deer without guidance,’ proverb has ‘covering eye to seize sparrow.’ These small things yet cannot be cheated to accomplish ambition, so all the more for the state’s great affairs, how can they by deceptively established? Now you General control Imperial Authority, grasp military force, like dragon soar and tiger leap, high and low at heart; to in this way enact affairs, is no different from rousing great furnace to singe a hair. Merely act quickly like the sound of thunder, enact authority and establish decisively, oppose method in accord with principle, the Heavenly Man follows this; but you instead release sharp weapons, and furthermore summon others. Great troops gather together, the strong becoming imposing, is what is called reversing grip of shield and spear, to give to the other the handle; achievement certainly will not succeed, and it will become the beginning of chaos.” [Hé] Jìn did not accept his words, and indeed by this brought about disaster.


Lín fled the troubles to Jì Province, Yuán Shào had him write literary compositions. When the Yuán clan was defeated, Lín submitted to Tàizǔ. Tàizǔ said: “You in the past for [Yuán] Běnchū sent letters, but could have condemned me and nothing more, the slanders stopping on this body, why then send it up to my father and grandfather?” Lín apologized for his fault. Tàizǔ loved his ability and did not punish.


[Ruǎn] Yǔ when young received study from Cài Yōng. During Jiàn’ān Capital Protector [General] Cáo Hóng wished to have him serve as his letter writer, but Yǔ to the end would not yield. Tàizǔ both had Lín and Yǔ serve as Excellency of Works’ Military Planner Libationers, controlling Record Keepers, (1) and of the army and state’s written dispatches, many were by Lín and Yǔ composed. (2) Lín transferred to Below Gate Commander, Yǔ became Granary Department Official and Associate.


  • (1) Wénshìzhuàn states: Tàizǔ heard of Yǔ’s reputation, summoned him, he did not answer, continuously met with pressure, and therefore fled into the mountains. Tàizǔ sent men to burn the mountains, captured Yǔ, and sent him, and he was summoned to enter. Tàizǔ at the time was campaigning in Cháng’ān, greatly entertaining guests, was angry that Yǔ would not with him speak, and had him with the performers line up. Yǔ was good at discerning notes, able to play zither, and therefore stroked strings and sang, thus composing a song: “Abundant abundant heaven’s gate opens, great Wèi answers phase shift. Green canopy patrols Nine Provinces, where east and west people complain. Gentlemen for the one who understands them die, women for the one who pleases them play. Gratitude and righteousness if spread free, how can other men disorder?” Making the tune was nimble, the note and sound unique and sublime, at the time crowning the seated, and Tàizǔ was greatly pleased.
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Yú sir’s Diǎnlüè and Zhì Yú’s Wénzhāngzhì both say Yǔ at Jiàn’ān’s beginning claimed illness to avoid conscription, and would not to Cáo Hóng yield. Obtaining Tàizǔ’s summons, he at once cast aside staff and rose. There could not have been this matter of fleeing into the mountains and burning him out. Also Diǎnlüè records that when Tàizǔ first campaigned in Jīng Province, he sent Yǔ to compose letter to Liú Bèi, and when campaigning against Mǎ Chāo, he also sent Yǔ to compose letter to Hán Suì, and these two letters at present both survive. Reaching to before Cháng’ān, [Hán] Suì and the rest were defeated and fled, and Tàizǔ first in the Sixteenth Year [211] was able to enter the Passes and that is all. Yet Zhāng Zhì says at the time of first obtaining Yǔ that Tàizǔ was at Cháng’ān, this also is ridiculous. Yǔ in the Seventeenth Year [212] died, Tàizǔ in the Eighteenth Year [213] received tally as Duke of Wèi, yet it says Yǔ’s song lyrics said: ‘Great Wèi answers phase shift,’ and one can even more know this is extremely absurd. Also its lyrics say: ‘How can other men disorder,’ its meaning is not completely said. What Yǔ would say, would certainly not be like this.

〔一〕 文士傳曰:太祖雅聞瑀名,辟之,不應,連見偪促,乃逃入山中。太祖使人焚山,得瑀,送至,召入。太祖時征長安,大延賓客,怒瑀不與語,使就技人列。瑀善解音,能鼓琴,遂撫弦而歌,因造歌曲曰:「奕奕天門開,大魏應期運。青蓋巡九州,在東西人怨。士為知己死,女為悅者玩。恩義苟敷暢,他人焉能亂?」為曲既捷,音聲殊妙,當時冠坐,太祖大悅。臣松之案魚氏典略、摯虞文章志並云瑀建安初辭疾避役,不為曹洪屈。得太祖召,即投杖而起。不得有逃入山中,焚之乃出之事也。又典略載太祖初征荊州,使瑀作書與劉備,及征馬超,又使瑀作書與韓遂,此二書今具存。至長安之前,遂等破走,太祖始以十六年得入關耳。而張騭云初得瑀時太祖在長安,此又乖戾。瑀以十七年卒,太祖十八年策為魏公,而云瑀歌舞辭稱「大魏應期運」,愈知甚妄。又其辭云「他人焉能亂」,了不成語。瑀之吐屬,必不如此。

  • (2) Diǎnlüè states: Lín composed various letters and dispatches, the drafts completed and presented to Tàizǔ. Tàizǔ previously had bitter headaches, on that day his illness occurred, lying down he read what Lín had composed, and stammered and rose and said: “This healed my illness.” Repeatedly he gave heavy bestowments. Tàizǔ once sent Yǔ to compose letter to Hán Suì, at the time Tàizǔ happened to be about to go out, Yǔ followed in attendance, and therefore on horseback completed the draft, finished writing and presented it. Tàizǔ picked up writing brush wishing to finalize it, but indeed he had nothing to add or remove.

〔二〕 典略曰:琳作諸書及檄,草成呈太祖。太祖先苦頭風,是日疾發,臥讀琳所作,翕然而起曰:「此愈我病。」數加厚賜。太祖嘗使瑀作書與韓遂,時太祖適近出,瑀隨從,因於馬上具草,書成呈之。太祖攬筆欲有所定,而竟不能增損。

[Yìng] Chàng and [Liú] Zhēn each were by Tàizǔ recruited, becoming Chancellor’s Officials and Associates. Chàng was transferred to Marquis of Píngyuán’s retainer, later became Five Office General’s Literary Scholar. (1) Zhēn for disrespect was punished, the punishment finished and he was appointed to office. (2) Both wrote literature and rhapsodies of several tens of piān.


  • (1) Huà Jiào’s Hànshū states: Chàng’s grandfather Fèng, appellation Shìshū, was talented and clever and good at recitation, and therefore everyone said: ‘Yìng Shìshū reads book, Five Phases all below.” He wrote Hòuxù of over ten piān, and was the era’s Classicist. During Yánxī [158-167], he reached Colonel Director of Retainers. His son Shào appellation Zhòngyuǎn, also had wide learning and much knowledge, and was outstanding in service. He compiled Fēngsútōng and others, altogether over a hundred piān, and though the words were not standard, the era admired his wide learning.
  • Xù Hànshū states: Shào also wrote Zhōng Hàn Jíxù [Middle Hàn’s Compiled Narrations], Hàn Guānyí [Hàn Official Ceremonies] and Lǐyí Gùshì [Ritual Ceremony Former Practices], altogether 11 zhǒng, 136 juàn. Court Regulations and Bureaucracy Cermeonies, that they were not lost, was because Shào recorded it. His rank reached Tàishān Administrator. Shào’s younger brother Xún, appellation Jìyú, was an Excellency of Works’ Official, and was Chàng’s father.

〔一〕 華嶠漢書曰:瑒祖奉,字世叔。才敏善諷誦,故世稱「應世叔讀書,五行俱下」。著後序十餘篇,為世儒者。延熹中,至司隸校尉。子劭字仲遠,亦博學多識,尤好事。諸所撰述風俗通等,凡百餘篇,辭雖不典,世服其博聞。續漢書曰:劭又著中漢輯敘、漢官儀及禮儀故事,凡十一種,百三十六卷。朝廷制度,百官儀式,所以不亡者,由劭記之。官至泰山太守。劭弟珣,字季瑜,司空掾,即瑒之父。

  • (2) Wénshì Zhuàn states: Zhēn’s father Liáng, appellation Mànshān, originally named Gōng, when young had purity and ability, for his literary learning met with esteem, and ended as Yěwáng Magistrate.
  • Diǎnlüè states: Emperor Wén [Cáo Pī] once bestowed on Zhēn a Kuòluò belt, later its crafter died, he wished to borrow it to make a copy, and therefore wrote letter teasing Zhēn saying: “Objects because of men are valued, therefore those in the hands of the lowly, do not reach the sides of the honored. Now though I request it, do not fear that it will not return.” Zhēn answered: “I Zhēn have heard Jīngshān’s jade, glorifies the fundamental ruler’s treasures; Suíhóu’s pearls, illuminate the multitudes’ goodness; Nányín’s gold, tops a seductive beauty’s head; Húndiāo’s tails, are swen in the attending ministers’ headscarves. These four treasures, are found below rotten stones, within dirt and mud, and yet are raised up above a thousand years, beyond the colored fields of the past, and also all were not at first able to reach honor. What the honored wear, are by the humble made. What the the noble ride, are by the lowly tested. Therefore grand houses first completed have the crafters first standing below it, auspicious grain first ripening have the peasant farmer first tasting its granules. I Zhēn regret [only] having this belt, and am without other sublime ornamentation, and if it truly is unique, it can be presented.” Zhēn’s words in cleverness were all like this, and by this he was specially by the various noble sons [of Cáo Cāo] close and favored. After this the Heir-Apparent [Cáo Pī] once invited various literary scholars, they became intoxicated and sat together happily, and he ordered his wife lady Zhēn to come out and pay respects. Of those seated everyone all bowed, but [Liú] Zhēn alone was upright and stared. Tàizǔ heard this, and therefore arrested [Liú] Zhēn, reducing death sentence to labor.

〔二〕 文士傳曰:楨父名梁,字曼山,一名恭。少有清才,以文學見貴,終於野王令。典略曰:文帝嘗賜楨廓落帶,其後師死,欲借取以為像,因書嘲楨云:「夫物因人為貴。故在賤者之手,不御至尊之側。今雖取之,勿嫌其不反也。」楨答曰;「楨聞荊山之璞,曜元后之寶;隨侯之珠,燭眾士之好;南垠之金,登窈窕之首;鼲貂之尾,綴侍臣之幘:此四寶者,伏朽石之下,潛汙泥之中,而揚光千載之上,發彩疇昔之外,亦皆未能初自接於至尊也。夫尊者所服,卑者所脩也;貴者所御,賤者所先也。故夏屋初成而大匠先立其下,嘉禾始熟而農夫先嘗其粒。恨楨所帶,無他妙飾,若實殊異,尚可納也。」楨辭旨巧妙皆如是,由是特為諸公子所親愛。其後太子嘗請諸文學,酒酣坐歡,命夫人甄氏出拜。坐中眾人咸伏,而楨獨平視。太祖聞之,乃收楨,減死輸作。

[Ruǎn] Yǔ in the Seventeenth Year [212] died. [Xú] Gàn, [Chén] Lín, [Yìng] Chàng, [Liú] Zhēn in the Twenty-Second Year [217] died. Emperor Wén’s letter to Yuánchéng Magistrate Wú Zhì states: “In past years was sickness and plague, of my close and old friends many departed in this disaster. Xú [Gàn], Chén [Lín], Yìng [Chàng], Liú [Zhēn] in the same time together passed. Observing the ancient and present literary men, their sort do not protect delicate conduct, few are able to for reputation and integrity establish themselves. But [Xú Gàn] Wěicháng alone embraced culture and character, quiet and content with few desires, having the will of Jī mountain, and can be called a refined gentleman. He wrote Zhōnglùn of over twenty piān, its words and meanings refined and elegant, sufficient to be transmitted to posterity. [Yìng Chàng] Déliǎn always was remarkable in narrating and creating ideas, his talent and learning sufficient to write books, his beautiful ambitions were not achieved, so very lamentable! [Chén Lín] Kǒngzhāng’s essays were special and invigorating, but a bit complicated. [Liú Zhēn] Gōnggàn[‘s writings] had outstanding air, but was not vigorous. [Ruǎn Yǔ] Yuányú’s notes are graceful, sufficient to enjoy. [Wáng Càn]  Zhòngxuān alone was good in ballads and rhapsodies, a pity his form was weak, and could not raise up to his words; as for his strengths, of the ancients none can surpass him. In the past Bóyá broke his strings for Zhōng Qī [never playing music again after his death], Zhòngní threw away his favorite meats for Zǐlù [never enjoying it again after his death],  such is the pain of the difficulty in meeting an intimate friend, the wounds of none being able to match those closest. Those masters though do not yet match the ancients, they were the exceptional of our time.”


  • (1) Diǎnlùn states: The recent literary men, Lǔ-guó’s Kǒng Róng, Guǎnglíng’s Chén Lín, Shányáng’s Wáng Càn, Běihǎi’s Xú Gàn, Chénliú’s Ruǎn Yǔ, Rǔnán’s Yìng Chàng, Dōngpíng’s Liú Zhēn, these seven masters, in scholarship were without omission, in words were without falseness, all were like refined horses crossing a thousand lǐ, of high level and all galloping. [Wáng] Càn excelled in ballads and rhapsodies. [Xú] Gàn had outstanding air, however he was not of [Wáng] Càn’s level. Like [Wáng] Càn’s Chūzhēng, Dēnglóu, Huáifù, Zhēngsī, [Xú] Gàn’s Xuányuán, Lòuzhī, Yuánshàn, Júfù, even Zhāng [Héng] and Cài [Yōng] do not surpass, however their other writings cannot be praised thus. [Chén] Lín and [Ruǎn] Yǔ’s essays and notes, are the present’s exceptional works. Yìng Chàng was harmonious but not strong; Liú Zhēn was strong but not confidential. Kǒng Róng’s form and air were high and sublime, surpassing other men, however he was not able to maintain discussion, his reasoning unequal to his words, so that he used miscellany to ridicule and mock; as for his strengths, he was of Yáng [Xióng] and Bān [Gù]’s class.

〔一〕 典論曰:今之文人,魯國孔融、廣陵陳琳、山陽王粲、北海徐幹、陳留阮瑀、汝南應瑒、東平劉楨,斯七子者,於學無所遺,於辭無所假,咸自以騁騏驥於千里,仰齊足而並馳。粲長於辭賦。幹時有逸氣,然非粲匹也。如粲之初征、登樓、槐賦、征思,幹之玄猿、漏卮、圓扇、橘賦,雖張、蔡不過也,然於他文未能稱是。琳、瑀之章表書記,今之雋也。應瑒和而不壯;劉楨壯而不密。孔融體氣高妙,有過人者,然不能持論,理不勝辭,至于雜以嘲戲;及其所善,揚、班之儔也。

From Yǐngchuān’s Hándān Chún, (1) Fán Qīn, (2) Chénliú’s Lù Cuì, (3) Pèiguó’s Dīng Yí and Dīng Yì, Hóngnóng’s Yáng Xiū, Hénèi’s Gǒu Wěi and others, they also had literary talent, but were not with these seven ranked. (4)


  • (1) Wèilüè states: Chún originally named Zhú, appellation Zǐshū, was broadly learned and had talent, and also was good with the Cāng, , Chóng, Zhuàn, and Xǔshì Zìzhǐ. In Chūpíng’s time [190-193], he from the Three Adjuncts became a guest of Jīngzhōu. Jīngzhōu internally submitted [208], Tàizǔ had previously heard of his name, and summoned him to meet, and was deeply respectful and impressed with him. At the time the Five Office General [Cáo Pī] was widely involved with exceptional classicists, and also had heard Chún’s name, and therefore summoned Chún wishing to have him in the Literary Scholarship offices. It happened that the Marquis of Línzī [Cáo] Zhí also sought Chún, and Tàizǔ sent Chún to visit [Cáo] Zhí. Zhí first obtained Chún and was deeply happy, brought him inside to sit, without first with him conversing. At the time the weather was hot, [Cáo] Zhí therefore called his regular followers to fetch water and bathed himself, and applied face powder, then with bare head and chest, with a Hú dance practiced the five hammer exercises, jumped ball and sword fenced, reciting various exceptional stories of several thousand words and finished, and said to Chún: “Sir Hándān how about it?” Therefore he then again put on clothes and head-dress, fixed his appearance, and with Chún discussed the fundamentals of the universe and nature, the meanings of categories of things and distinguishing them, and afterward debated the rankings of the goods and bads of the worthy sages and famed officials and ardent heroes from Xīhuáng and onward, ranking and praising the ancient to the present’s literary works and rhapsodies and eulogies, and how to order officials and government matters, and also debated the influence of using military actions and soldiers relying on ambush. Then he ordered the kitchen manager, and alcohol and roasts were delivered, those seated in attendance were speechless, none able to with them match. Reaching evening, Chún returned, and to those he knew he sighed at [Cáo] Zhí’s ability, calling him a “Heavenly Man.” But at that time the successor had not yet been established, Tàizǔ briefly had intentions on [Cáo] Zhí, and Chún repeatedly praised [Cáo[ Zhí’s ability, and because of this the Five Office General was not pleased. Reaching Huángchú’s beginning [220], he appointed Chún as Academic Scholar Dispensing Matters Internal, Chún made a Target Pot rhapsody of over a thousand words and presented it, Wén-dì for the work, bestowed silk of a thousand pǐ.

〔一〕 魏略曰:淳一名竺,字子叔。博學有才章,又善蒼、雅、蟲、篆、許氏字指。初平時,從三輔客荊州。荊州內附,太祖素聞其名,召與相見,甚敬異之。時五官將博延英儒,亦宿聞淳名,因啟淳欲使在文學官屬中。會臨菑侯植亦求淳,太祖遣淳詣植。植初得淳甚喜,延入坐,不先與談。時天暑熱,植因呼常從取水自澡訖,傅粉。遂科頭拍袒,胡舞五椎鍛,跳丸擊劍,誦俳優小說數千言訖,謂淳曰:「邯鄲生何如邪?」於是乃更著衣幘,整儀容,與淳評說混元造化之端,品物區別之意,然後論羲皇以來賢聖名臣烈士優劣之差,次頌古今文章賦誄及當官政事宜所先後,又論用武行兵倚伏之勢。乃命廚宰,酒炙交至,坐席默然,無與伉者。及暮,淳歸,對其所知歎植之材,謂之「天人」。而于時世子未立。太祖俄有意於植,而淳屢稱植材。由是五官將頗不悅。及黃初初,以淳為博士給事中。淳作投壺賦千餘言奏之,文帝以為工,賜帛千匹。

  • (2) Diǎnlüè states: Qīn appellation Xiūbó, used literary talent in critical debate, when young obtained reputation about Rǔ and Yǐng. Qīn was both skilled in writing records, and also good in poems and rhapsodies. His letters with the Heir-Apparent, recorded speech transferred meanings, were all skillful and beautiful. He became Chancellor’s Registrar. Jiàn’ān Twenty-third year [218] he died.

〔二〕 典略曰:欽字休伯,以文才機辯,少得名於汝、潁。欽既長於書記,又善為詩賦。其所與太子書,記喉轉意,率皆巧麗。為丞相主簿。建安二十三年卒。

  • (3) Diǎnlüè states: Cuì appellation Wényù, when young studied under Cài Yōng. During Chūpíng, he accompanied the Imperial Chariot to reach the Three Adjuncts. At Jiàn’ān’s beginning, for his high talent he with Jīngzhào’s Yán Xiàng were selected to be Secretariat Cadets. [Yán] Xiàng for having both civil and military ability, was sent out to be Yáng Province Inspector. Cuì later became Military Planning Libationer, and with Chén Lín, Ruǎn Yǔ and others managed records. When Kǒng Róng had faults, Tàizǔ sent Cuì to prepare memorial, to explain and enumerate [Kǒng] Róng’s crimes, its overall outline saying: “[Kǒng] Róng in the past was at Běihǎi, saw the Ruling House was not secure, recruited and gathered followers and armies, wishing to plot against course, saying: ‘I am the Great Sage’s descendent, but destroyed was Sòng, why must the one to possess the realm Under Heaven use metal blades?'” It also said: “Róng is of the Nine Ministers, but does not honor Court ceremony, without headscarf goes about, is irreverent in the palace halls. He also in white robes Mí Héng discussed wantonly, [Mí] Héng with Róng further praised and raised up each other. [Mí] Héng said to Róng: ‘Zhòngní did not die.’ Róng answered: ‘Yán Yuān lives again.'” Overall it spoke of Róng in this sort, its words very many. After Róng was executed, men observed that it was by Cuì composed, and none did not commend his talent and fear his writing brush. Reaching Ninteenth Year, Cuì was transferred to Confidential Documents Director, and followed the main army to Hànzhōng. In connection to violating prohibitions and requsting donkey he was submitted to law [executed]. The Heir-Apparent previously with Cuì was friendly, heard of his death, and for him sighed and mourned. When he ascended the Emperor’s Throne, he specially employed his son as a Chief Clerk.
  • Yú Huàn states: Observing and examining the gone, of Lǔ Lián and Zōu Yáng’s kind, citing example and category, to explain and conclude, truly they were the most significant of the time’s literature and debate. Now considering Wáng, Fán, Ruǎn, Chén, Lù various men from beginning to end in writing purpose, also how were they not like the past? What was not discussed, was because the time and era were different and that is all. I also was humbly wondered by their not being extensively employed, and about it asked Minister Herald Wéi Zhòngjiāng, Zhòngjiāng said: “Zhòngxuān was harmful in loose simplicity, Xiūbó was without standard and restraint, Yuányú was ill and his form weak, Kǒngzhāng truly was coarse and sparse, Wénwèi’s nature inclined toward anger and brutality, to be like them, is not but to burn a candle to boil gruel. That they did not rise high, overall was because of this. However a gentleman does not blame it on one man, like the example of red lacquer, though it is not an evergreen tree, it has its luster and is also an impressive sight.

〔三〕 典略曰:粹字文蔚,少學於蔡邕。初平中,隨車駕至三輔。建安初,以高才與京兆嚴像擢拜尚書郎。像以兼有文武,出為揚州刺史。粹後為軍謀祭酒,與陳琳、阮瑀等典記室。及孔融有過,太祖使粹為奏,承指數致融罪,其大略言:「融昔在北海,見王室不寧,招合徒眾,欲圖不軌,言『我大聖之後也,而滅於宋。有天下者何必卯金刀』?」又云:「融為九列,不遵朝儀,禿巾微行,唐突宮掖。又與白衣禰衡言論放蕩,衡與融更相贊揚。衡謂融曰:『仲尼不死也。』融答曰:『顏淵復生。』」凡說融諸如此輩,辭語甚多。融誅之後,人睹粹所作,無不嘉其才而畏其筆也。至十九年,粹轉為祕書令,從大軍至漢中,坐違禁賤請驢伏法。太子素與粹善,聞其死,為之歎惜。及即帝位,特用其子為長史。魚豢曰:尋省往者,魯連、鄒陽之徒,援譬引類,以解締結,誠彼時文辯之雋也。今覽王、繁、阮、陳、路諸人前後文旨,亦何昔不若哉?其所以不論者,時世異耳。余又竊怪其不甚見用,以問大鴻臚卿韋仲將。仲將云:「仲宣傷於肥戆,休伯都無格檢,元瑜病於體弱,孔璋實自麤疏,文尉性頗忿鷙,如是彼為,非徒以脂燭自煎糜也,其不高蹈,蓋有由矣。然君子不責備于一人,譬之朱漆,雖無楨幹,其為光澤亦壯觀也。」

  • (4) Yí, Yì, and Xiū’s matters, all are in Chén Sī-wáng’s [Cáo Zhí’s] Biography [SGZ 19].
  • Xún Xù’s Wénzhāng Xùlù states: Wěi appellation Gōnggāo. When young he enjoyed literary scholarship. During Jiàn’ān, he was summoned for appointment as Military Planning Official, Wèi Heir-Apparent Resident, shortly promoted to reach Cavalier Regular Attendant, Yuè Cavalry Colonel. Aged forty-two, Huángchū Fourth Year [223] he died.

〔四〕 儀、廙、脩事,並在陳思王傳。荀勖文章敘錄曰:緯字公高。少喜文學。建安中,召署軍謀掾、魏太子庶子,稍遷至散騎常侍、越騎校尉。年四十二,黃初四年卒。

Chàng’s younger brother Qú, Qú’s son Zhēn, all for literary essays were known. Qú’s office reached Internal Attendant, Zhēn during Xiánxī was Advisor to Chancellor of State’s Military Affairs. (1)


  • (1) Wénzhāng Xùlù states:
    • Qú appellation Xiūliǎn, was widely learned and enjoyed writing prose, and was good at writing notes. In Wén and Míng’s reigns, he successivley held office as Cavalrier Regular Attendant. The King of Qí succeeded the throne, he was gradually promoted to Attendant Internal, General-in-Chief’s Chief Scribe. Cáo Shǎung controlled the government, and many times violated law and regulation, Qú made a poem to mock this. Though his words were overall harmonious, it often was cutting on the time’s important matters, and the world all shared it. He returned as Attendant Internal, managing writings. Jiāpíng Fourth Year [254] he died, posthumously titled Minister of the Guard.
    • Zhēn appellation Jífǔ, when young for talent had reputation, and was able to discuss and debate. During Zhèngshǐ, Xiàhóu Xuán was flourishing with reputation and influence, Zhēn once with Xuán seated composed a five word poem, and Xuán praised and enjoyed it. He was nominated as High Level, and successively held prominent position. When Jìn Wǔ-dì [Sīmǎ Yán] became Supporting the Army General-in-Chief, he appoitned Zhēn as Advisor to Military affairs. When the Jìn House ascended, he was promoted to Heir-Apparent’s Internal Companion, Cavalier Regular Attendant. Also for his classicist learning he with Grand Commandant Xún Yǐ compiled and settled new ritual, but the matter was not yet enacted. Tàishǐ Fifth Year [269] he died.
    • Zhēn’s younger brother Chún. Chún’s son Shào, during Yǒngjiā [307-313] became Yellow Gate Attendant Cadet, and was by Sīmǎ Yuè killed. Chùn’s younger brother Xiù. Xiù’s son Zhān, was Defending South General-in-Chief, Jiāng Province Inspector.

〔一〕 文章敘錄曰:璩字休璉,博學好屬文,善為書記。文、明帝世,歷官散騎常侍。齊王即位,稍遷侍中、大將軍長史。曹爽秉政,多違法度,璩為詩以諷焉。其言雖頗諧合,多切時要,世共傳之。復為侍中,典著作。嘉平四年卒,追贈衛尉。貞字吉甫,少以才聞,能談論。正始中,夏侯玄盛有名勢,貞嘗在玄坐作五言詩,玄嘉玩之。舉高第,歷顯位。晉武帝為撫軍大將軍,以貞參軍事。晉室踐阼,遷太子中庶子、散騎常侍。又以儒學與太尉荀顗撰定新禮,事未施行。泰始五年卒。貞弟純。純子紹,永嘉中為黃門侍郎,為司馬越所殺。純弟秀。秀子詹,鎮南大將軍、江州刺史。

[Ruǎn] Yǔ’s son Jí, had talent and elegance splendid and outstanding, but was unconventional and wanton, his conduct and self had few desires, taking Zhuāng Zhōu as a model. His office reached Infantry Colonel. (1)


  • (1) Jí appellation Sìzōng.
  • Wèishì Chūnqiū states: Jí was broad minded and uninhibited, and did not confine to ritual and custom. His nature was of utmost filial peity, in residing in mourning though he did not always use restraint, but his pain almost destroyed his character. Yǎn Province Inspector Wáng Chǎng requsted to with him meet, and to the end of the day was not able to with him talk, [Wáng] Chǎng sighed and admired him, himself believing he could not comprehend him. Grand Commandant Jiǎng Jì heard of and recruited him, later he became Secretariat Cadet, Cáo Shuǎng’s Advisor to the Army, and due to illness returned home. After over a year, [Cáo] Shuǎng was executed, and the Grand Tutor and General-in-Chief then appointed him Attending Official Internal Cadet. Later the Court discussed his high reputation, wishing to honor and esteem him, Jí because the world had many changes, accepted salary and nothing more. He heard the Infantry Colonel post was vacant, its kitchen having much fine alcohol, the camp people good at brewining alcohol, and requested to be the Colonel, and therefore drank excessively and became intoxicated, leaving behind the world’s affairs. Once he ascended Guǎngwǔ [mountain], looking at where Chǔ and Hàn had battled, and then sighed and said: “That time is without exceptional talents, to have a petty fellow [Liú Bāng] achieve fame!” At the times he followed his whims to alone ride carriage, did not follow the roads, and when the carriage could go no further, then he would grieve and cry and return. Jí when young once traveled to Sūmén mountain, Sūmén mountain had a recluse, no one knew his name or surname, he had several bamboo vessels, mortar and pestle and nothing more. Jí followed him, and with him discussed grand antiquity’s ways of inaction, and discussed the principles of the Five Emperors and Three Kings, and the Sūmén recluse had scornful expression of not listening. Jí then faced him and made a long whistle, clear sound resounding, the Sūmén recluse changed expression and laughed. Jí then went down, the Sūmén recluse also whistled, like a phoenix’s sound. At that, Jí took the Sūmén recluse’s discussion to influence his own thoughts. He sang: “Sun vanishes not around west, moon comes out from cinnabar depths, yáng essence hidden and not seen, yīn light replacing its strength. Stop stop in a flash, loathing loathing about to again fall, wealth and honor lowering and rising between, poor and lowly why should it end.” He also sighed and said: “Heaven and Earth in six directions open, stars fall and sun and moon collapse, I soaring above should have what concerns?” Jí’s mouth did not discuss men’s faults, and he was naturally exuberant, and therefore he was by scholars of ritual and law Hé Céng and others deeply opposed and hated. General-in-Chief Sīmǎ [Zhāo] Wén-wáng always protected him, and he died of old age.
  • His son Hún appellation Zhǎngchéng.
  • Shìyǔ states: Hún for tranqulity and having few desires, had fame in the capital. He became Heir-Apparent’s Companion. Early died.

〔一〕 籍字嗣宗。魏氏春秋曰:籍曠達不羈,不拘禮俗。性至孝,居喪雖不率常檢,而毀幾至滅性。兗州刺史王昶請與相見,終日不得與言,昶歎賞之,自以不能測也。太尉蔣濟聞而辟之,後為尚書郎、曹爽參軍,以疾歸田里。歲餘,爽誅,太傅及大將軍乃以為從事中郎。後朝論以其名高,欲顯崇之,籍以世多故,祿仕而已,聞步兵校尉缺,廚多美酒,營人善釀酒,求為校尉,遂縱酒昏酣,遺落世事。嘗登廣武,觀楚、漢戰處,乃歎曰:「時無英才,使豎子成名乎!」時率意獨駕,不由徑路,車跡所窮,輒慟哭而反。籍少時嘗遊蘇門山,蘇門山有隱者,莫知名姓,有竹實數斛、臼杵而已。籍從之,與談太古無為之道,及論五帝三王之義,蘇門生蕭然曾不經聽。籍乃對之長嘯,清韻響亮,蘇門生逌爾而笑。籍既降,蘇門生亦嘯,若鸞鳳之音焉。至是,籍乃假蘇門先生之論以寄所懷。其歌曰:「日沒不周西,月出丹淵中,陽精蔽不見,陰光代為雄。亭亭在須臾,厭厭將復隆。富貴俯仰間,貧賤何必終。」又歎曰:「天地解兮六合開,星辰隕兮日月頹,我騰而上將何懷?」籍口不論人過,而自然高邁,故為禮法之士何曾等深所讎疾。大將軍司馬文王常保持之,卒以壽終。子渾字長成。世語曰:渾以閒澹寡欲,知名京邑。為太子庶子。早卒。

At the time there also was Qiáo prefecture’s Jī Kāng, his writing magnificent, liked discussing Lǎo and Zhuāng, and esteemed the eccentric and acted as an adventurer. Reaching into Jǐngyuán, in connection to a matter he was executed. (1)


  • (1) Kāng appellation Shūyè.
  • According to Jīshìpǔ “Jī clan registers”: Kāng’s father Zhāo, appellation Zǐyuán, was Commander of Army Provisions Managing Documents Attendant Censorate. Elder brother [Jī] Xǐ, appellation Gōngmù, was for Jìn a Yáng Province Inspector, Minister of the Imperial Clan.
  • [Jī] Xǐ for Kāng made a biography that said: “The family for generations were classicist scholars, when young he had exceptional talent, did not follow the crowd, high and bright and willful, did not care for fame, generous and magnanimous. His learning was not from teachers received, extensively spread with much heard, grown he liked the work of Lǎo and Zhuāng, peaceful without desires. By nature he enjoyed medicine, once selecting Imperial use drugs. He was good at writing prose and discussions, playing zither and singing poems, satisfied keeping it to imself. He believed in divine transcendents, but that it was gained natural, not by accumulated study attained. As for guiding and caring with reason, to extend life, like Ānqī and Péngzǔ’s story, it could by goodness be sought and attained.; he wrote a Yǎngshēng piān [Essay on Maintaining Health]. Knowing that those valuing self by this declined their lives, those seeking benefit certain to lose their character, he  went beyond and alone attained, and therefore abandoned worldy affairs, leaving behind exterior of dust. He compiled and recorded high antquity and after’s sagely worthies, hidden recluses, withdrawn hearts, remaining names, gathering them into a biography and appraisal, from Hùndùn reaching to Guǎn Níng, altogether 119 men, overall they were those that sought it from within the cosmos, and sent it out beyond a thousand years. Therefore of the world’s people none obtained and named it.”
  • Yú Yù’s Jìnshū states: Kāng’s family was originally surnamed Xī , Kuàijī 會稽 men. Earlier from Kuàijī they moved to Qiáo’s Zhì county, changing to the Jī clan, taking from the Jī character’s top, adding “mountain” to be their surname, this overall was their ambition’s origin. Another saying is that Zhì had a Jī mountain, the family settled on its side, and therefore took it as clan name.
  • Wèishì Chūnqiū states:
    • Kāng resided in Hénèi’s Shānyáng county, and those with him traveling, never once saw him happy or hurt. With Chénliú’s Ruǎn Jí, Hénèi’s Shān Tāo, Hénán’s Xiàng Xiù, [Ruǎn] Jí’s elder brother’s son [Ruǎn] Xián, Lángyé’s Wáng Róng, Pèi man Liú Líng together were friendly, roamed in the bamboo forests, called the Seven Worthies.
    • Zhōng Huì was with the General-in-Chief [Sīmǎ Zhāo] intimate, heard of Kāng’s name and went to meet him. [Zhōng] Huì was a famed Excellency’s son, for talent and ability was noble and trusted, his horse was fat and his clothes light, and guest-retainers followed him like clouds. Kāng on a winnow basket squatted and hammered metal, [Zhōng] Huì arrived, and he did not meet with courtesy. Kāng asked [Zhōng] Huì: ” What is heard and comes? What is seen and goes?” [Zhōng] Huì said: “Something is heard and comes, something is seen and goes.” [Zhōng] Huì deeply resented him.
    • The General-in-Chief [Sīmǎ Zhāo] once wished to recruit Kāng. Kāng already spoke of being cut off from the world, and also with his cousin’s son was not friendly, and avoided it going to Hédōng, some saying he was avoiding the world. When Shān Tāo became Selection Department Cadet, he nominated Kāng to succeed him, Kāng answered in letter refusing, and therefore explained himself as being unable to bear common customs, not that he belittled Tāng and Wǔ. The General-in-Chief heard this and was furious.
    • Previously, Kāng with Dōngpíng’s Lǚ Zhāo’s son [Lǚ] Xùn and [Lǚ] Xùn’s younger brother Ān were close and friendly. It happened that [Lǚ] Xùn was lewd with [Lǚ] Ān’s wife lady Xú, and falsely accused [Lǚ] Ān of being unfilial, and they arrested him. [Lǚ] Ān called on Kāng to be his witness, and Kāng righteously did not betray heart, and made clear the situation. [Lǚ] Ān also was utmostly ardent, and had ambition to relieve the world. Zhōng Huì urged the General-in-Chief to take advantage of this to eliminate them, and therefore they killed [Lǚ] Ān and Kāng.
    • Kāng facing execution was at ease, holding zither and playing, and soon after sighed and said: “Elegant sound hence is cut off.” At the time of people none did not mourn him.
    • Previously, Kāng gathered drugs in Jí prefecture in Gòngběi mountain, and met the recluse Sūn Dēng. Kāng wished to with him speak, [Sūn] Dēng was silent and did not answer. At the time he was about to leave, Kāng said: “Master you indeed have nothing to say?” [Sūn] Dēng then said: “Your talent is much but your experience little, it will be difficult to be spared in the present world.” When encountering the Lǚ Ān matter, he made a poem blaming himself that said: “Wishing to have few faults, slanderous talk boils over. Nature not harming things, repeatedly reaching blame and resentment. In the past shamed Liǔ Xià, now shamed Sūn Dēng. Inside betraying former heart, outside shaming good friend.” Kāng’s written essays and discussions were sixty to seventy thousand words, all by the world enjoyed and sung.
  • Kāng Biézhuàn [Kāng’s Supplementary Biography] says: Sūn Dēng said to Kāng: “Your nature is fierce and your talent exceptional, can you escape?” When Kāng was facing death his words were: “Yuán Xiàoní once accompanied me in studying Guǎnglíng Sǎn, I always firmly did not teach it. Guǎnglíng Sǎn now is lost!”
  • It is with what [Sūn] Shèng recorded not the same.
  • Also Jìn Yángqiū says: Kāng met Sūn Dēng, Dēng faced him long whistling, passing time and not speaking. Kāng took leave to return, saying: “Sir you really have nothing to say?” Dēng said: “A pity!”
  • These two documents both were by Sūn Shèng writen, and yet they are entirely different like this.
  • Kāng Jí Mùlù states: [Sūn] Dēng appellation Gōnghé, not know from where man, no family or dependents, and at Jí county northern mountain lived in a cave. In summer then he weaved grass to make garments, in winter then he covered himself in hair. He enjoyed reading the Yì and playing zither, and all that met him were close and pleased with him. Every time they visited his home, at once he gave them his clothes and food and drink, and they could not decline.
  • Shìyǔ states: Guànqiū Jiǎn rebelled, Kāng had strength, and moreover wished to raise troops to answer him, and about this asked Shān Tāo, Tāo said: “Cannot.” [Guànqiū] Jiǎn also was already defeated.
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī cites the base biography saying Kāng during Jǐngyuán in connection to a matter was executed, but Gān Bǎo’s, Sūn Shèng’s, Xí Zuòchǐ’s various books, all say Zhèngyuán Second Year [255], Sīmǎ [Zhāo] Wén-wáng returned from Yuèjiā, and killed Jī Kāng and Lǚ Ān. Going by Shìyǔ it says Kāng wished to raise troops to answer Guànqiū Jiǎn, and therefore says after defeating [Guànqiū] Jiǎn they then in answer killed Kāng. This truly is not correct. Shān Tāo became Selections official, wished to nominate Kāng to succeed him, Kāng in letter refused, the matter is clearly verifiable. According to Tāo Xíngzhuàng, [Shān] Tāo beginning in Jǐngyuán Second Year [261] was appointed Official Division Cadet. Jǐngyuán and Zhèngyuán are seven to eight years apart, by Tāo Xíngzhuàng examining it, it seems the base biography is verified. Also Zhōng Huì’s Biography also says [Zhōng] Huì while Colonel Director of Retainers executed Kāng; [Zhōng] Huì was Director of Retainers during Jǐngyuán. Gān Bǎo says Lǚ Ān and his elder brother Xùn were friendly with Zhōng Huì, [Lǚ] Xùn was a Chancellor of State’s Official, and also was favored by Sīmǎ [Zhāo] Wén-wáng, and therefore supported [Lǚ] Ān’s execution. As [Sīmǎ Zhāo] Wén-wáng in Jǐngyuán Fourth Year [263] as Zhōng [Huì] and Dèng [Ài] pacified Shǔ afterward, first accepted Chancellor of State position; if [Lǚ] Xùn while a Chancellor of State’s Official destroyed [Lǚ] Ān, how could it be in the year of defeating Guànqiū Jiǎn that they killed Jī [Kāng] and Lǚ [Ān]? This also is Gān Bǎo’s error, mutually inconsistent.
  • Kāng’s son Shào, appellation Yànzǔ, when young had reputation. Shān Tāo recruited him as Confidential Document Cadet, praising Shào as fair and warm and clever, having literary thinking, and also understood music, and would be successful. The Emperor [Sīmǎ Yán] said: “If Shào is like this, he can be the deputy, not worth making him a cadet.” Therefore he successively held prominent position.
  • Jìn Zhūgōng zàn states: Shào with Shān Tāo’s son Jiǎn, Hóngnóng’s Yáng Zhǔn were together friendly, but Shào most had loyal and upright nature. As Attendant Internal he followed Huī-dì on northern campaign against the King of Chéngdū, the Ruling Army was utterly defeated, the hundred officials all fled, only Shào alone with his body shielded and defended, and therefore died at the Emperor’s side. Therefore he repeatedly was commended and esteemed, posthumously titled Grand Commandant, posthumous name Zhōng-Mù-gōng “Loyal and Reverent Duke.”

〔一〕 康字叔夜。案嵇氏譜:康父昭,字子遠,督軍糧治書侍御史。兄喜,字公穆,晉揚州刺史、宗正。喜為康傳曰;「家世儒學,少有雋才,曠邁不群,高亮任性,不脩名譽,寬簡有大量。學不師授,博洽多聞,長而好老、莊之業,恬靜無欲。性好服食,嘗採御上藥。善屬文論,彈琴詠詩,自足于懷抱之中。以為神仙者,稟之自然,非積學所致。至於導養得理,以盡性命,若安期、彭祖之倫,可以善求而得也;著養生篇。知自厚者所以喪其所生,其求益者必失其性,超然獨達,遂放世事,縱意於塵埃之表。撰錄上古以來聖賢、隱逸、遁心、遺名者,集為傳贊,自混沌至于管寧,凡百一十有九人,蓋求之於宇宙之內,而發之乎千載之外者矣。故世人莫得而名焉。」虞預晉書曰:康家本姓奚,會稽人。先自會稽遷于譙之銍縣,改為嵇氏,取「嵇」字之上,〔加〕「山」以為姓,蓋以志其本也。一曰銍有嵇山,家于其側,遂氏焉。魏氏春秋曰:康寓居河內之山陽縣,與之游者,未嘗見其喜慍之色。與陳留阮籍、河內山濤、河南向秀、籍兄子咸、琅邪王戎、沛人劉伶相與友善,遊於竹林,號為七賢。鍾會為大將軍所昵,聞康名而造之。會,名公子,以才能貴幸,乘肥衣輕,賓從如雲。康方箕踞而鍛,會至,不為之禮。康問會曰:「何所聞而來?何所見而去?」會曰:「有所聞而來,有所見而去。」會深銜之。大將軍嘗欲辟康。康既有絕世之言,又從子不善,避之河東,或云避世。及山濤為選曹郎,舉康自代,康答書拒絕,因自說不堪流俗,而非薄湯、武。大將軍聞而怒焉。初,康與東平呂昭子巽及巽弟安親善。會巽淫安妻徐氏,而誣安不孝,囚之。安引康為證,康義不負心,保明其事,安亦至烈,有濟世志力。鍾會勸大將軍因此除之,遂殺安及康。康臨刑自若,援琴而鼓,既而歎曰:「雅音於是絕矣!」時人莫不哀之。初,康採藥於汲郡共北山中,見隱者孫登。康欲與之言,登默然不對。踰時將去,康曰:「先生竟無言乎?」登乃曰:「子才多識寡,難乎免於今之世。」及遭呂安事,為詩自責曰:「欲寡其過,謗議沸騰。性不傷物,頻致怨憎。昔慚柳下。今愧孫登。內負宿心,外赧良朋。」康所著諸文論六七萬言,皆為世所玩詠。康別傳云:孫登謂康曰:「君性烈而才雋,其能免乎?」稱康臨終之言曰:「袁孝尼嘗從吾學廣陵散,吾每固之不與。廣陵散於今絕矣!」與盛所記不同。又晉陽秋云:康見孫登,登對之長嘯,踰時不言。康辭還,曰:「先生竟無言乎?」登曰:「惜哉!」此二書皆孫盛所述,而自為殊異如此。康集目錄曰:登字公和,不知何許人,無家屬,於汲縣北山土窟中得之。夏則編草為裳,冬則被髮自覆。好讀易鼓琴,見者皆親樂之。每所止家,輒給其衣服食飲,得無辭讓。世語曰:毌丘儉反,康有力,且欲起兵應之,以問山濤,濤曰:「不可。」儉亦已敗。臣松之案本傳云康以景元中坐事誅,而干寶、孫盛、習鑿齒諸書,皆云正元二年,司馬文王反自樂嘉,殺嵇康、呂安。蓋緣世語云康欲舉兵應毌丘儉,故謂破儉便應殺康也。其實不然。山濤為選官,欲舉康自代,康書告絕,事之明審者也。案濤行狀,濤始以景元二年除吏部郎耳。景元與正元相較七八年,以濤行狀檢之,如本傳為審。又鍾會傳亦云會作司隸校尉時誅康;會作司隸,景元中也。干寶云呂安兄巽善於鍾會,巽為相國掾,俱有寵於司馬文王,故遂抵安罪。尋文王以景元四年鍾、鄧平蜀後,始授相國位;若巽為相國掾時陷安,焉得以破毌丘儉年殺嵇、呂?此又干寶疏謬,自相違伐也。康子紹,字延祖,少知名。山濤啟以為祕書郎,稱紹平簡溫敏,有文思,又曉音,當成濟者。帝曰;「紹如此,便可以為丞,不足復為郎也。」遂歷顯位。晉諸公贊曰:紹與山濤子簡、弘農楊準同好友善,而紹最有忠正之情。以侍中從惠帝北伐成都王,王師敗績,百官皆走,惟紹獨以身扞衛,遂死於帝側。故累見褒崇,追贈太尉,諡曰忠穆公。

During Jǐngchū, Xiàpī’s Huán Wēi came from orphaned and humble origins, aged eighteen years he wrote the Húnyú Jīng, depending on the way to see intentions. He was Qí State Below the Gate Documents Aide, Excellency of Works’ Bureau Official, later becoming Ānchéng Magistrate.


Wú Zhì was a Jǐyīn man, for his literary talent was with Emperor Wén friendly, office reaching Shaking Authority General, Acting Staff Regional Commander of the Hé’s north’s various military affairs, fief as a ranked Marquis. (1)


  • (1) Wèilüè states: Zhì appellation Jìzhòng, for talent and learning communicated extensively, and was by the Five Offices General [Cáo Pī] and the various lords [sons of Cáo Cāo] were treated with ritual and loved; Zhì also was good at situating between the brothers, like the previous ages’ Lóu Jūnqīng traveling between the five Marquis. When the Hé’s north was pacified and settled, the Five Office General became the successor son, Zhì with Liú Zhēn and others all sat in attendence to him. When [Liú] Zhēn was reprimanded, Zhì was sent out to be Zhāogē Chief, later promoted to Yuánchéng Magistrate. Afterward the main army went on western campaign [215], the Heir-Apparent was south at Mèngjīn’s small city and with Zhì wrote letter that said:
    • Jìzhòng [I hope you are] without troubles! Though the roads are near, government responsibilities have limits [keeping us from meeting in person], [I] hope to speak of my thoughts, but they cannot be expressed. Where you govern is rustic and base, [my] letter of inquiries arrives, increasing and adding to your toils. Every time recalling of the former days of Nánpí’s travels, truly it cannot be forgotten, both subtly pondering the Six Classics, freely rambling the Hundred Schools [of thought], dànqí [‘pellet chess’] set up, to the end playing, high discussion amusing hearts, sorrowful zither pleasing the ear. Galloping across the northern fields, eating in southern inns, floating sweet melons in clear springs, pouring vermillion plums in cold waters. When day light was gone, [we] continued by the bright moon, in the same carriage together riding, to roam the rear gardens, carriage wheels gently turning, guest retainers without sound, pure breeze in the night rising, sorrowful whistle subtly blowing, happiness going and sorrow coming, chilled in hurt and grief. I looked back and said, this happiness is difficult to keep, and you and your companions, all believed it so. Now indeed [we are] separated, each in one region. [Ruǎn Yǔ] Yuányú long ago passed away, becoming something else, every time remembrance of it arrives, when can it be said? Right now is the time for organizing surrounding guests, scenery and breeze fanning things, weather pleasantly warm, multitudes of fruits in great numbers. At the time harnessing carriage and traveling, to the north following the Hé’s bend, followers blow whistles to announce to the road, Literary Scholars entrusted to ride in the rear chariots, the season is the same but the times different, the things the same but the people different, my toils are what? Now sending rider to Yè, therefore having him on bent road passing. [I] go, take care of yourself!
  • Twenty-third Year [218], the Heir-Apparent again with Zhì wrote letter that said:
    • Years and moons easily gained, since our parting it has been four years. Three years of not meeting, the Dōngshān [poem] yet sighed at its distance, so all the more when surpassing it, the melancholy how can it be born? Though letters go and return, it is not enough to resolve these toils and bonds. In past years was sickness and plague, of my close and old friends many departed in this disaster. Xú [Gàn], Chén [Lín], Yìng [Chàng], Liú [Zhēn], in the same time together passed, the pain how can it be spoken of? In former days of traveling, when going then sharing carriage, when stopping then joining mats, how could they suddenly be lost? Every time reaching feasting and drinking, string and bamboo [music instruments] together playing, intoxicated to ear buring, looking up and composing rhapsody and poem, at these times, suddenly not aware knowing such happiness. It is said a hundred years [lifetime] is divided, to long together protect one another, how can it be imagined that within a few years, it would be completely withered and fallen, speaking of it pains the heart. [I have] compiled their remaining writings, all into one collection. Observing their surnames and personal names, they are already a ghost record, in recollection of former travels, yet they are in heart and eye, but these sirs have become soil and earth, what can again be said? Observing the ancient and present literary men, their sort do not protect delicate conduct, few are able to by reputation and integrity establish themselves. But [Xú Gàn] Wěicháng alone embraced culture and character, quiet and content with few desires, having the will of Jī mountain, and can be called a refined gentleman. He wrote Zhōnglùn of over twenty piān, its words and meanings refined and elegant, sufficient to be transmitted to posterity. [Yìng Chàng] Déliǎn always was remarkable in narrating and creating ideas, his talent and learning sufficient to write books, his beautiful ambitions were not achieved, so very lamentable! [Chén Lín] Kǒngzhāng’s essays were special and invigorating, but a bit complicated. [Liú Zhēn] Gōnggàn[‘s writings] had outstanding air, but was not vigorous. [Ruǎn Yǔ] Yuányú’s notes are graceful, sufficient to enjoy. [Wáng Càn]  Zhòngxuān alone was good in ballads and rhapsodies, a pity his form was weak, and could not raise up to his words; as for his strengths, of the ancients none can surpass him. In the past Bóyá broke his strings for Zhōng Qī [never playing music again after his death], Zhòngní threw away his favorite meats for Zǐlù [never enjoying it again after his death],  such is the pain of the difficulty in meeting an intimate friend, the wounds of none being able to match those closest. Those masters though do not yet match the ancients, they were the exceptional of our time, the present living already do not match them. The later born can be feared [as eventually surpassing them], but the coming will have difficulty, but I and you sir will not see them. In passing years [I have] already grown up, what [I] harbor are ten thousand thoughts, at times considering them, so that then at night [I] cannot close my eyes. In what time can it again be like the past days? Already [I] have become an old man, only I am not yet white haired. Guāng-Wǔ [Liú Xiù] said: ‘[My] years are already thirty, in the army ten years, what [I’ve] experienced is not [just] one [thing].’ Though my virtue does not match his, in years [I am] with him equal, like a dog or sheep in character, wearing a tiger or leopard’s markings, without the brightness of the multitudes of stars, borrowing the light of the sun and moon [Translater’s Note: This may be a reference to his father], every action observed closely, when can this be changed? [I] fear forever [I will] not again gain those former days’ travels. Youth truly should strive hard, once a year passes, how can it again be gained? The ancients pondered bright candle night travels, truly this was proper. Recently how have [you] amused yourself? Have [you] again written something or not? To the east looking to town, write and narrate heart.”
    • [Translater’s Note: Cáo Pī was thirty two in 218]
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī believes that though the base biography overall records the Heir-Apparent’s letter, of its beautiful words many were omitted, now I therefore all from what Wèilüè narrated provide its words.
  • The Heir-Apparent succeeded the King’s throne [220], and also with Zhì wrote letter that said: “In Nánpí’s travels, there were three of us, my great father’s dragon flying [promoting officials], some were generals some were marquis. Now only you my sir, stay delayed in lower position, of those that followed me in my travels and lodging, you alone do not reach the gate. Bottles empty jars disgraced, can I be without shame? Roads are not called far, now we again mutually hear.” Previously, Cáo Zhēn and Cáo Xiū also with Zhì and the rest were all at Bóhǎi traveling and residing, at the time [Cáo] Xiū and [Cáo] Zhēn also as clansmen relatives both received noble rank and fief, were sent out as ranked Generals, and Zhì therefore became a Chief Clerk. The King attended to Zhì having hopes, and therefore spoke of those two men to comfort him. At first Zhì was from lowly family, rarely traveled among wealthy relatives, and overall did not with those of his hometown interact. Therefore though he himself became official, in his home country yet he was not considered famous. When Wèi possessed the realm Under Heaven, Wén-dì summoned Zhì, and sharing Imperial Chariot met at Luòyáng. He arrived, was appoitned North Internal Cadet General, fief as a ranked marquis, Envoy Wielding Staff as Commander of Yōu and Bìng’s various military affairs, headquarters at Xìndū. During Tàihé [227-233], he entered Court. Zhì himself because he would not by his home prefecture be respected, said to Excellency over the Masses Dǒng Zhāo: “I wish only to drown my hometown.” [Dǒng] Zhāo said: “Wait for now. I am aged eighty years, and when I cannot get any older then you can drown me.” [Translator’s note: Dǒng Zhāo was also a Jǐyīn man]
  • Shìyǔ states: The King of Wèi once went out on campaign, the successor son [Cáo Pī] and Marquis of Línzī [Cáo] Zhí both saw him off beside the road. [Cáo] Zhí praised and narrated achievements and virtues, his speech orderly, those around stared, and the King also was pleased. The successor son was frustrated and at a loss, Wú Zhì in his ear said: “When the King is about to go, you can weep.” At the goodbyes, the successor son wept and bowed, the King and his attendants all cried, and therefore all believed [Cáo] Zhí’s words were very magnificent, but his sincerity did not match.
  • Zhì Biézhuàn states:
    • The Emperor once summoned Zhì and Cáo Xiū to a joyous meeting, ordering Empress Guō to go out and meet Zhì and the rest. The Emperor said: “You look up and carefully look at her.” His utmost closeness was like this.
    • Zhì in Huángchū Fifth Year [224] attended Court in the capital, Imperial Order on the Upper General and Speciall Advanced on down to all meet where Zhì was, and the Chief Officer provided supplies, they drank to intoxication, and Zhì wished to be exhaustively pleased. At the time the Upper General Cáo Zhēn was fat, Central Manager of the Army Zhū Shuò was skinny, Zhì summoned performers, and had them talk of fat and skinny. [Cáo] Zhēn because he was noble, was shamed seeing the performance, and angrily said to Zhi: “You wish to with your guard retainers come face me?” Elite Cavalry General Cáo Hóng, Light Chariots General Wáng Zhōng said: “General if you wish to make the Upper General admit being fat, then you should first become skinny.” [Cáo] Zhēn’s became all the more angry, drew saber and glared eyes, saying: “Who dares make light of me, I will behead.” Therefore he cursed the seated. Zhì gripped sword and said: “Cáo Zǐdān, you are not a table top’s meat, I Wú Zhì swallowing you would not move my throat, chewing you would not move my teeth, how dare you rely on power to be arrogant?” [Zhū] Shuò therefore rose and said: “His Majesty sent us to come to you to have fun, why go this far?” Zhì looked back and shouted at him: “Zhū Shuò, you dare break seat?” The various Generals all returned to their seats, [Zhū] Shuò was impatient, and increasingly angry, returning drew sword and chopped the ground. Therefore they then stopped.
    • When Wén-dì passed away, Zhì in memorium made a poem that said:
      • Grief grief harbored flourishing sorrow
      • Flourishing sorrow cannot be resided
      • Moving leaning unable to sit
      • Exiting entering steps wavering hesitating
      • Recalling immersion in sagely ruler’s grace
      • Glorious rank with the masses different
      • Self saying forever ending body
      • Willful air barely yet unfolding
      • How intentions accorded then abandoned
      • Abaonding us returning to yellow clay
      • Desolate desolate without one to rely on
      • Tears falling like liked pearls
      • Following loss without gain
      • Body died name not written
      • Generous regret self forceful exhort
      • Almost yet ardent man
    • Tàihé Fourth Year [230], he entered as Attendant Internal. At the time Excellency of Works Chén Qún controlled Secretariat affairs, the Emperor newly oversaw all matters, and Zhì, as the assisting great ministers were the foundations of security and danger, to the Emperor enthusiastically praised: “Elite Cavalry General Sīmǎ Yì, loyal and wise and utmostly fair, is the State Altar’s servant. Chén Qún is an unhurried scholar, not a talent to be a state’s chancellor, occupies heavy position but does not personally serve.” The Emperor deeply accepted this. The next day, there was cutting Imperial Order reprimanding [Chén] Qún, but the realm Under Heaven because no Excellency of Works could match Chángwén, that is Qún, said it was without truth. Zhì that year in summer died.
    • Zhì previously relied on power to be reckless in conduct, posthumous name Chǒu-hóu “Disgraceful Marquis.” Zhì’s son Yìng then sent up letter saying it was unjust, reaching Zhèngyuán [254-256] posthumous name was changed to Wēi-hóu “Powerful Marquis.” Yìng appellation Wēnshū, was a Jìn Secretariat. Yìng’s son Kāng, appellation Zǐzhòng, had reputation at the time, and also reached great position.

〔一〕 魏略曰:質字季重,以才學通博,為五官將及諸侯所禮愛;質亦善處其兄弟之間,若前世樓君卿之游五侯矣。及河北平定(大將軍)〔五官將〕為世子,質與劉楨等並在坐席。楨坐譴之際,質出為朝歌長,後遷元城令。其後大軍西征,太子南在孟津小城,與質書曰:「季重無恙!途路雖局,官守有限,願言之懷,良不可任。足下所治僻左,書問致簡,益用增勞。每念昔日南皮之游,誠不可忘。既妙思六經,逍遙百氏,彈棋閒設,終以博弈,高談娛心,哀箏順耳。馳騖北場,旅食南館,浮甘瓜於清泉,沈朱李於寒水。皦日既沒,繼以朗月,同乘並載,以游後園,輿輪徐動,賓從無聲,清風夜起,悲笳微吟,樂往哀來,淒然傷懷。余顧而言,茲樂難常,足下之徒,咸以為然。今果分別,各在一方。元瑜長逝,化為異物,每一念至,何時可言?方今蕤賓紀辰,景風扇物,天氣和暖,眾果具繁。時駕而游,北遵河曲,從者鳴笳以啟路,文學託乘於後車,節同時異,物是人非,我勞如何!今遣騎到鄴,故使枉道相過。行矣,自愛!」二十三年,太子又與質書曰:「歲月易得,別來行復四年。三年不見,東山猶歎其遠,況乃過之,思何可支?雖書疏往反,未足解其勞結。昔年疾疫,親故多離其災,徐、陳、應、劉,一時俱逝,痛何可言邪!昔日游處,行則同輿,止則接席,何嘗須臾相失!每至觴酌流行,絲竹並奏,酒酣耳熱,仰而賦詩。當此之時,忽然不自知樂也。謂百年己分,長共相保,何圖數年之間,零落略盡,言之傷心。頃撰其遺文,都為一集。觀其姓名,已為鬼錄,追思昔游,猶在心目,而此諸子化為糞壤,可復道哉!觀古今文人,類不護細行,鮮能以名節自立。而偉長獨懷文抱質,恬淡寡欲,有箕山之志,可謂彬彬君子矣。著中論二十餘篇,成一家之業,辭義典雅,足傳于後,此子為不朽矣。德璉常斐然有述作意,才學足以著書,美志不遂,良可痛惜。閒歷觀諸子之文,對之抆淚,既痛逝者,行自念也。孔璋章表殊健,微為繁富。公幹有逸氣,但未遒耳,至其五言詩,妙絕當時。元瑜書記翩翩,致足樂也。仲宣獨自善於辭賦,惜其體弱,不足起其文,至於所善,古人無以遠過也。昔伯牙絕絃於鍾期,仲尼覆醢於子路,愍知音之難遇,傷門人之莫逮也。諸子但為未及古人,自一時之雋也,今之存者已不逮矣。後生可畏,來者難誣,然吾與足下不及見也。行年已長大,所懷萬端,時有所慮,至乃通夕不瞑。何時復類昔日!已成老翁,但未白頭耳。光武言『年已三十,在軍十年,所更非一』,吾德雖不及,年與之齊。以犬羊之質,服虎豹之文,無眾星之明,假日月之光,動見觀瞻,何時易邪?恐永不復得為昔日游也。少壯真當努力,年一過往,何可攀援?古人思秉燭夜游,良有以也。頃何以自娛?頗復有所造述不?東望於邑,裁書敘心。」臣松之以本傳雖略載太子此書,美辭多被刪落,今故悉取魏略所述以備其文。太子即王位,又與質書曰:「南皮之游,存者三人,烈祖龍飛,或將或侯。今惟吾子,棲遲下仕,從我游處,獨不及門。瓶罄罍恥,能無懷愧。路不云遠,今復相聞。」初,曹真、曹休亦與質等俱在渤海游處,時休、真亦以宗親並受爵封,出為列將,而質故為長史。王顧質有望,故稱二人以慰之。始質為單家,少游遨貴戚間,蓋不與鄉里相沈浮。故雖已出官,本國猶不與之士名。及魏有天下,文帝徵質,與車駕會洛陽。到,拜北中郎將,封列侯,使持節督幽、并諸軍事,治信都。太和中,入朝。質自以不為本郡所饒,謂司徒董昭曰:「我欲溺鄉里耳。」昭曰:「君且止,我年八十,不能老為君溺攢也。」世語曰:魏王嘗出征,世子及臨菑侯植並送路側。植稱述功德,發言有章,左右屬目,王亦悅焉。世子悵然自失,吳質耳曰:「王當行,流涕可也。」及辭,世子泣而拜,王及左右咸歔欷,於是皆以植辭多華,而誠心不及也。質別傳曰:帝嘗召質及曹休歡會,命郭后出見質等。帝曰:「卿仰諦視之。」其至親如此。質黃初五年朝京師,詔上將軍及特進以下皆會質所,大官給供具。酒酣,質欲盡歡。時上將軍曹真性肥,中領軍朱鑠性瘦,質召優,使說肥瘦。真負貴,恥見戲,怒謂質曰:「卿欲以部曲將遇我邪?」驃騎將軍曹洪、輕車將軍王忠言:「將軍必欲使上將軍服肥,即自宜為瘦。」真愈恚,拔刀瞋目,言:「俳敢輕脫,吾斬爾。」遂罵坐。質案劍曰:「曹子丹,汝非屠几上肉,吳質吞爾不搖喉,咀爾不搖牙,何敢恃勢驕邪?」鑠因起曰:「陛下使吾等來樂卿耳,乃至此邪!」質顧叱之曰:「朱鑠,敢壞坐!」諸將軍皆還坐。鑠性急,愈恚,還拔劍斬地。遂便罷也。及文帝崩,質思慕作詩曰:「愴愴懷殷憂,殷憂不可居。徙倚不能坐,出入步踟躕。念蒙聖主恩,榮爵與眾殊。自謂永終身,志氣甫當舒。何意中見棄,棄我歸黃壚。煢煢靡所恃,淚下如連珠。隨沒無所益,身死名不書。慷慨自僶俛,庶幾烈丈夫。」太和四年,入為侍中。時司空陳群錄尚書事,帝初親萬機,質以輔弼大臣,安危之本,對帝盛稱「驃騎將軍司馬懿,忠智至公,社稷之臣也。陳群從容之士,非國相之才,處重任而不親事。」帝甚納之。明日,有切詔以督責群,而天下以司空不如長文,即群,言無實也。質其年夏卒。質先以怙威肆行,諡曰醜侯。質子應仍上書論枉,至正元中乃改諡威侯。應字溫舒,晉尚書。應子康,字子仲,知名於時,亦至大位。

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