The Goujian Story in Antiquity

Paul A. Cohen

in Speaking to History

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780520255791
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942394 | DOI:
The Goujian Story in Antiquity

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Before looking at the variety of ways in which the figure of Goujian assumed meaning for Chinese in the twentieth century, this chapter examines the story itself. In reconstructing the Goujian story, it establishes a rough baseline for what was known about the Goujian narrative in the first century CE, the time when the first full-fledged version of the story appeared. To this end, the chapter relies on such basic ancient sources as Zuozhuan (Zuo's Tradition), Guoyu (Legends of the States), Sima Qian's Shiji (Records of the Historian), and Lüshi chunqiu (The Annals of Lü Buwei). However, it depends most heavily on the later (and highly fictionalized) Wu Yue chunqiu (The Annals of Wu and Yue), originally compiled by the Eastern Han author Zhao Ye from 58 to 75 CE. The setting for the Goujian story was the rivalry beginning in the latter phase of the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 BCE) between the neighboring states of Wu (in modern Jiangsu) and Yue (in modern Zhejiang), two newly ascendant powers on the southeastern periphery of contemporary China.

Keywords: Goujian; China; Zuozhuan; Guoyu; Shiji; Lüshi chunqiu; Wu Yue chunqiu; Wu; Yue

Chapter.  14276 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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