Sima Qian

(c. 145 bc — 185 ad)

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(c. 145–85 bc)

Chinese historian, an official at the court of the Han emperor Wudi. His Historical Records is a history of China from earliest times to the days of Wudi, and is a model for later dynastic histories. As well as recounting ancient myths, he provided much source material, quoting inscriptions from old bronzes and imperial decrees from the archives. One section of the work, Assorted Traditions, has lively biographies of generals, poets, scoundrels, and court ladies. Angered by his defence of a general forced to surrender to the Xiongnu, Wudi had him castrated. Although such punishment often led officials to commit suicide he decided to live on to complete his history.

Subjects: World History.

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