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I.: The Sacrificial Odes of Shang. - Misc (Confucian School), The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King 
The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King, trans. James Legge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879).
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The Sacrificial Odes of Shang.
These odes of Shang constitute the last Book in the ordinary editions of the Shih. I put them here in the first place, because they are the oldest pieces in the collection. There are only five of them.
The sovereigns of the dynasty of Shang occupied the throne from bc 1766 to 1123. They traced their lineage to Hsieh, who appears in the Shû as Minister of Instruction to Shun. By Yâo or by Shun, Hsieh was invested with the principality of Shang, corresponding to the small department which is so named in Shen-hsî. Fourteenth in descent from him came Thien-yî, better known as Khăng Thang, or Thang the Successful, who dethroned the last descendant of the line of Hsiâ, and became the founder of a new dynasty. We meet with him first at a considerable distance from the ancestral fief (which, however, gave name to the dynasty), having as his capital the southern Po, which seems correctly referred to the present district of Shang-khiû, in the department of Kwei-teh, Ho-nan. Among the twenty-seven sovereigns who followed Thang, there were three especially distinguished:—Thâi Kiâ, his grandson and successor (bc 1753 to 1721), who received the title of Thâi Ȝung; Thâi Mâu (bc 1637 to 1563), canonized as Kung Ȝung; and Wû-ting (bc 1324 to 1266), known as Kâo Ȝung. The shrines of these three sovereigns and that of Thang retained their places in the ancestral temple ever after they were first set up, and if all the sacrificial odes of the dynasty had been preserved, most of them would have been in praise of one or other of the four. But it so happened that at least all the odes of which Thâi Ȝung was the subject were lost; and of the others we have only the small portion that has been mentioned above.
Of how it is that we have even these, we have the following account in the Narratives of the States, compiled, probably, by a contemporary of Confucius. The count of Wei was made duke of Sung by king Wû of Kâu, as related in the Shû, V, viii, there to continue the sacrifices of the House of Shang; but the government of Sung fell subsequently into disorder, and the memorials of the dynasty were lost. In the time of duke Tâi (bc 799 to 766), one of his ministers, Kăng-khâo, an ancestor of Confucius, received from the Grand Music-Master at the court of Kâu twelve of the sacrificial odes of Shang with which he returned to Sung, where they were used in sacrificing to the old Shang kings. It is supposed that seven of these were lost subsequently, before the collection of the Shih was formed.
The Nâ1 .
We cannot tell by which of the kings of Shang the sacrifice here referred to was first performed. He is simply spoken of as ‘a descendant of Thang.’ The ode seems to have been composed by some one, probably a member of the royal House, who had taken part in the service.
How admirable! how complete! Here are set our hand-drums and drums. The drums resound harmonious and loud, To delight our meritorious ancestor2 .
The descendant of Thang invites him with this music, That he may soothe us with the realization of our thoughts3 . Deep is the sound of our hand-drums and drums; Shrilly sound the flutes; All harmonious and blending together, According to the notes of the sonorous gem. Oh! majestic is the descendant of Thang; Very admirable is his music.
From of old, before our time, The former men set us the example;—How to be mild and humble from morning to night, And to be reverent in discharging the service.
May he regard our sacrifices of winter and autumn3 , (Thus) offered by the descendant of Thang!
The Lieh Ȝû.
Neither can we tell by which of the kings of Shang this ode was first used. Kû Hsî says that the object of the sacrifice was Thang. The Preface assigns it to Thâi Mâu, the Kung Ȝung, or second of the three ‘honoured ones.’ But there is not a word in praise of Kung Ȝung, and the ‘meritorious ancestor’ of the first line is not to be got over. Still more clearly than in the case of the former ode does this appear to have been made by some one who had taken part in the service, for in line 4 he addresses the sacrificing king as ‘you.’
Ah! ah! our meritorious ancestor! Permanent are the blessings coming from him, Repeatedly conferred without end;—They have come to you in this place.
The clear spirits are in our vessels, And there is granted to us the realization of our thoughts. There are also the well-tempered soups, Prepared beforehand, with the ingredients rightly proportioned. By these offerings we invite his presence, without a word, Without (unseemly) contention (among the worshippers). He will bless us with the eyebrows of longevity, With the grey hair and wrinkled face in unlimited degree.
With the naves of their wheels bound with leather, and their ornamented yokes, With the eight bells at their horses’ bits all tinkling, (The princes) come to assist at the offerings1 . We have received the appointment in all its greatness, And from Heaven is our prosperity sent down, Fruitful years of great abundance. (Our ancestor) will come and enjoy (our offerings), And confer on us happiness without limit.
May he regard our sacrifices of winter and autumn, (Thus) offered by the descendant of Thang!
The Hsüan Niâo.
If this ode were not intended to do honour to Wû-ting, the Kâo Ȝung of Shang, we cannot account for the repeated mention of him in it. Kû Hsî, however, in his note on it, says nothing about Wû-ting, but simply that the piece belonged to the sacrifices in the ancestral temple, tracing back the line of the kings of Shang to its origin, and to its attaining the sovereignty of the kingdom. Not at all unlikely is the view of Kăng Hsüan, that the sacrifice was in the third year after the death of Wû-ting, and offered to him in the temple of Hsieh, the ancestor of the Shang dynasty.
Heaven commissioned the swallow, To descend and give birth to (the father of our) Shang1 . (His descendants) dwelt in the land of Yin, and became great. (Then) long ago God appointed the martial Thang, To regulate the boundaries throughout the four quarters (of the kingdom).
(In those) quarters he appointed the princes, And grandly possessed the nine regions2 . The first sovereign of Shang1 . Received the appointment without any element of instability in it, And it is (now) held by the descendant of Wû-ting2 .
The descendant of Wû-ting Is a martial sovereign, equal to every emergency. Ten princes, (who came) with their dragon-emblazoned banners, Bear the large dishes of millet.
The royal domain of a thousand lî. Is where the people rest; But the boundaries that reach to the four seas commence there.
From the four seas3 they come (to our sacrifices); They come in multitudes. King has the Ho for its outer border4 . That Yin5 should have received the appointment (of Heaven) was entirely right;—(Its sovereign) sustains all its dignities.
The Khang Fâ.
It does not appear on occasion of what sacrifice this piece was made. The most probable view is that of Mâo, that it was the ‘great Tî sacrifice,’ when the principal object of honour would be the ancient Khû, the father of Hsieh, with Hsieh as his correlate, and all the kings of the dynasty, with the earlier lords of Shang, and their famous ministers and advisers, would have their places at the service. I think this is the oldest of the odes of Shang.
Profoundly wise were (the lords of) Shang, And long had there appeared the omens (of their dignity).
When the waters of the deluge spread vast abroad, Yü arranged and divided the regions of the land, And assigned to the exterior great states their boundaries, With their borders extending all over (the kingdom). (Even) then the chief of Sung was beginning to be great, And God raised up the son (of his daughter), and founded (the line of) Shang1 .
The dark king exercised an effective sway2 . Charged with a small state, he commanded success; Charged with a large state, he commanded success3 . He followed his rules of conduct without error; Wherever he inspected (the people), they responded (to his instructions)4 . (Then came) Hsiang-thû all ardent5 , And all within the four seas, beyond (the middle regions), acknowledged his restraints.
The favour of God did not leave (Shang), And in Thang was found the fit object for its display. Thang was not born too late, And his wisdom and reverence daily advanced:—Brilliant was the influence of his character (on Heaven) for long. God he revered, And God appointed him to be the model for the nine regions.
He received the rank-tokens of the states, small and large, Which depended on him like the pendants of a banner:—So did he receive the blessing of Heaven. He was neither violent nor remiss, Neither hard nor soft. Gently he spread his instructions abroad, And all dignities and riches were concentrated in him.
He received the tribute of the states, small and large, And he supported them as a strong steed (does its burden):—So did he receive the favour of Heaven. He displayed everywhere his valour, Unshaken, unmoved, Unterrified, unscared:—All dignities were united in him.
The martial king displayed his banner, And with reverence grasped his axe. It was like (the case of) a blazing fire which no one can repress. The root, with its three shoots, Could make no progress, no growth1 . The nine regions were effectually secured by Thang. Having smitten (the princes of) Wei and Kû, He dealt with (him of) Kün-wû and with Kieh of Hsiâ.
Formerly, in the middle of the period (before Thang), There was a time of shaking and peril1 . But truly did Heaven (then) deal with him as a son, And sent him down a high minister, Namely, Â-hăng2 , Who gave his assistance to the king of Shang.
The Yin Wû.
The concluding lines indicate that the temple was made on the occasion which I thus assign to it. After Wû-ting’s death, his spirit-tablet would be shrined in the ancestral temple, and he would have his share in the seasonal sacrifices; but several reigns would elapse before there was any necessity to make any other arrangement, so that his tablet should not be removed, and his share in the sacrifices not be discontinued. Hence the composition of the piece has been referred to the time of Tî-yî, the last but one of the kings of Shang.
Rapid was the warlike energy of (our king of) Yin, And vigorously did he attack King-Khû3 . Boldly he entered its dangerous passes, And brought the multitudes of King together, Till the country was reduced under complete restraint:—Such was the fitting achievement of the descendant of Thang!
‘Ye people,’ (he said), ‘of King-Khû, Dwell in the southern part of my kingdom. Formerly, in the time of Thang the Successful, Even from the Kiang of Tî1 , They dared not but come with their offerings; (Their chiefs) dared not but come to seek acknowledgment2 :—Such is the regular rule of Shang.’
Heaven had given their appointments (to the princes), But where their capitals had been assigned within the sphere of the labours of Yü, For the business of every year they appeared before our king3 , (Saying), ‘Do not punish nor reprove us; We have not been remiss in our husbandry.’
When Heaven by its will is inspecting (the kingdom), The lower people are to be feared. (Our king) showed no partiality (in rewarding), no excess (in punishing); He dared not to allow himself in indolence:—So was his appointment (established) over the states, And he made his happiness grandly secure.
The capital of Shang was full of order, The model for all parts of the kingdom. Glorious was (the king’s) fame; Brilliant his energy. Long lived he and enjoyed tranquillity, And so he preserves us, his descendants.
We ascended the hill of King1 , Where the pines and cypresses grew symmetrical. We cut them down and conveyed them here; We reverently hewed them square. Long are the projecting beams of pine; Large are the many pillars. The temple was completed,—the tranquil abode (of the martial king of Yin).
[1 ] The piece is called the Nâ, because a character so named is an important part of the first line. So generally the pieces in the Shih receive their names from a character or phrase occurring in them. This point will not be again touched on.
[2 ] The ‘meritorious ancestor’ is Thang. The sacrifices of the Shang dynasty commenced with music; those of the Kâu with libations of fragrant spirits;—in both cases with the same object, to attract the spirit, or spirits, sacrificed to, and secure their presence at the service. Khăn Hâo (Ming dynasty) says, ‘The departed spirits hover between heaven and earth, and sound goes forth, filling the region of the air. Hence in sacrificing, the people of Yin began with a performance of music.’
[3 ] The Lî Kî, XXIV, i, parr. 2, 3, tells us, that the sacrificer, as preliminary to the service, had to fast for some days, and to think of the person of his ancestor,—where he had stood and sat, how he had smiled and spoken, what had been his cherished aims, pleasures, and delights; and on the third day he would have a complete image of him in his mind’s eye. Then on the day of sacrifice, when he entered the temple, he would seem to see him in his shrine, and to hear him, as he went about in the discharge of the service. This line seems to indicate the realization of all this.
[1 ] Dancing thus entered into the service as an accompaniment of the music. Two terms are employed; one denoting the movements appropriate to a dance of war, the other those appropriate to a dance of peace.
[2 ] The visitors would be the representatives of the lines of Hsiâ, Shun, and Yâo.
[3 ] Two of the seasonal sacrifices are thus specified, by synecdoche, for all the four.
[1 ] These lines are descriptive of the feudal princes, who were present and assisted at the sacrificial service. The chariot of each was drawn by four horses yoked abreast, two insides and two outsides, on each side of the bits of which small bells were attached.
[1 ] The father of Shang is Hsieh, who has already been mentioned. The mother of Hsieh was a daughter of the House of the ancient state of Sung, and a concubine of the ancient ruler Khû (bc 2435). According to Mâo, she accompanied Khû, at the time of the vernal equinox, when the swallow made its appearance, to sacrifice and pray to the first match-maker, and the result was the birth of Hsieh. Sze-mâ Khien and Kăng make Hsieh’s birth more marvellous:—The lady was bathing in some open place, when a swallow made its appearance, and dropt an egg, which she took and swallowed; and from this came Hsieh. The editors of the imperial edition of the Shih, of the present dynasty, say we need not believe the legends;—the important point is to believe that the birth of Hsieh was specially ordered by Heaven.
[2 ] ‘The nine regions’ are the nine provinces into which Yü divided the kingdom.
[1 ] That is, Thang.
[2 ] If this ode were used, as Kăng supposes, in the third year after Wû-ting’s death, this ‘descendant’ would be his son Ȝû-kăng, bc 1265 to 1259.
[3 ] This expression, which occurs also in the Shû, indicates that the early Chinese believed that their country extended to the sea, east, west, north, and south.
[4 ]Kû Hsî says he did not understand this line; but there is ground in the Ȝo Kwan for our believing that King was the name of a hill in the region where the capital of Shang was.
[5 ] We saw in the Shû that the name Shang gave place to Yin after the time of Pan-kăng, bc 1401 to 1374. Wû-ting’s reign was subsequent to that of Pan-kăng.
[1 ] This line refers to the birth of Hsieh, as described in the previous ode, and his being made lord of Shang.
[2 ] It would be hard to say why Hsieh is here called ‘the dark king.’ There may be an allusion to the legend about the connexion of the swallow,—‘the dark bird,’—with his birth. He never was ‘a king;’ but his descendants here represented him as such.
[3 ] All that is meant here is, that the territory of Shang was enlarged under Hsieh.
[4 ] There is a reference here to Hsieh’s appointment by Shun to be Minister of Instruction.
[5 ] Hsiang-thû appears in the genealogical lists as grandson of Hsieh. We know nothing of him but what is related here.
[1 ] By ‘the root’ we are to understand Thang’s chief opponent, Kieh, the last king of Hsiâ. Kieh’s three great helpers were ‘the three shoots,’—the princes of Wei, Kû, and Kün-wû; but the exact sites of their principalities cannot be made out.
[1 ] We do not know anything of this time of decadence in the fortunes of Shang between Hsieh and Thang.
[2 ] Â-hăng is Î Yin, who plays so remarkable a part in the Shû, IV, Books iv, v, and vi.
[3 ]King, or Khû, or King-Khû, as the two names are combined here, was a large and powerful half-savage state, having its capital in the present Wû-pei. So far as evidence goes, we should say, but for this ode, that the name of Khû was not in use till long after the Shang dynasty. The name King appears several times in ‘the Spring and Autumn’ in the annals of duke Kwang (bc 693 to 662), and then it gives place to the name Khû in the first year of duke Hsî (bc 659), and subsequently disappears itself altogether. In consequence of this some critics make this piece out to have been composed under the Kâu dynasty. The point cannot be fully cleared up; but on the whole I accept the words of the ode as sufficient proof against the silence of other documents.
[1 ] The Tî Kiang, or Kiang of Tî, still existed in the time of the Han dynasty, occupying portions of the present Kan-sû.
[2 ] The chiefs of the wild tribes, lying beyond the nine provinces of the kingdom, were required to present themselves once in their lifetime at the royal court. The rule, in normal periods, was for each chief to appear immediately after he had succeeded to the headship of his tribe.
[3 ] The feudal lords had to appear at court every year. They did so, we may suppose, at the court of Wû-ting, the more so because of his subjugation of King-Khû.
[1 ] See on the last line but two of ode 3.