Sima Qian 司馬遷

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【(左馮翊夏陽)】司馬遷 (子長)

Also Known As: "Father of Chinese historiography"
Birthdate: (59)
Birthplace: Longmen, near Hancheng, Shaanxi, China
Death: -86 (59)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sima Tan 司馬談
Father of 司馬英

Occupation: Chinese historian
Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Sima Qian 司馬遷

Sima Qian 司馬遷 (ca. 145–ca. 86 b.c.e., alt. birth year 135 b.c.e., alt. death year 90 b.c.e.), zi Zichang 子長, Western Han historian and writer.

Sima Qian's natal place was Xiayang 夏陽 in Zuopingyi 左馮翊 (modern Hancheng 韓城, Shaanxi). He reputedly came from a family of historians. Sima Qian claimed that his ancestors had charge of the historical records of the Zhou court. His father, Sima Tan 司馬談 (d. 110 BCE), around the year 136 BCE received an appointment in the capital as grand historian (or grand scribe). The main duty of the grand historian was to draw up the yearly calendar and present it to the emperor before each New Year's day. He also determined which days of the month were auspicious for state ceremonies, and which days were to be avoided. Another duty was to keep a record of good and bad omens. This position, which Sima Qian eventually inherited after his father's death, was not a high-paying or particularly prestigious position. In his “Letter in Reply to Ren An,” Sima Qian refers to the grand historian as simply a plaything of the emperor.

In 126 BCE, at about the age of twenty, Sima Qian made an extensive tour of the Han realm. Sima Qian was one of the most widely traveled men of his age, and his experience visiting ancient sites probably broadened his knowledge of history. He began his journey from Chang'an and went south across the Yangzi river to Changsha 長沙 (modern Hunan). Changsha was the place where Jia Yi 賈誼 (ca, 200–168 b.c.e.) had been exiled. From there he went to the Miluo 汨羅 river, where he visited the site at which Qu Yuan reputedly committed suicide (either north of modern Miluo, Hunan, or northwest of modern Yicheng 宜城, Hubei). He then went to the Jiuyi 九疑 Mountains (modern Ningyuan 寧遠, Hunan), the burial place of the legendary ruler Shun. After climbing Mount Lu 廬 in Jiangxi, he traveled to the Guiji 會稽 Mountains (near modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang) to seek out the cave in which the Great Yu was said to be buried. From here went to north to Huaiyin 淮陰 (modern Huaiyin, Jiangsu) to investigate the haunts of the early Han general Han Xin 韓信 (d. 196 BCE). He then traveled north to the old Lu area where he studied ritual and other subjects in Confucius' natal place of Qufu 曲阜.

Upon returning to the capital, Sima Qian entered government service as a palace gentleman. This was probably sometime between 122 and 116 BCE. The position of palace gentleman was a very low rank, and those who served in this position were nothing more than attendants and guards to the emperor. However, because he had to accompany the emperor, Sima Qian again had an opportunity to travel. The emperor was now Emperor Wu (r. 141–87 BCE), who was traveling constantly making inspection tours of the empire. Sima Qian participated in the great western expedition of 111 BCE to Shu 蜀 (modern Sichuan). In 110 BCE Sima Qian was a member of the imperial entourage that accompanied Emperor Wu on his ascent of Mount Tai where elaborate sacrifices were performed.

Sima Qian's father was not permitted to go on the journey to Mount Tai. When Sima Qian returned to the capital, he found his father gravely ill on his deathbed. Sima tan spoke to his son as follows: “Our ancestors were grand scribes for the house of Zhou. From high antiquity they had illustrious achievement and fame during the reigns of Yu [Shun] and Xia when they had charge of astronomical matters. In later ages our clan declined. Will this tradition end with me? If you also will become grand historian, you may continue the work of our ancestors.”

Sima Tan had used his position as grand historian to consult the imperial archives, and he had begun to compile a history of the Chinese empire. He urged his son to carry on his endeavor.

After observing a twenty-four-month mourning period for his father, in 108 BCE Sima Qian succeeded to his father's post as grand historian. True to his father's instructions, Sima Qian continued writing the history of the empire. In 105 BCE, Sima Qian participated in a major reform of the calendar. The calendar introduced at this time, the Taichu 太初曆 or Grand Inception Calendar, became the official calendar used throughout the succeeding periods of Chinese history for the next 2,000 years.

In 99 BCE, Emperor Wu sent an expedition into Central Asia against the Xiongnu. The Xiongnu were the most powerful foreign threat to the Han. One of the commanders of the Chinese armies was a general named Li Ling 李陵 (d. 119 b.c.e.). Li Ling's force of 5,000 penetrated deeply into Xiongnu territory, where they were surrounded. Li Ling was forced to surrender. Almost all of the officials at the Han court turned against Li Ling and condemned him for surrendering. Only Sima Qian came to Li Ling's defense. In his “Letter in reply to Ren An,” Sima Qian writes that he was not a close friend of Li Ling's, but he had always admired his character. Sima Qian made the mistake of mentioning in his defense of Li Ling that one reason for Li Ling's defeat was that the relief column that was supposed to come to his rescue did not arrive. It so happened that this relief column was headed by none other than General Li Guangli 李廣利 (d. 88 BCE), who was the elder brother of Emperor Wu's favorite concubine Lady Li 李夫人. Outraged, Emperor Wu had Sima Qian thrown into prison. The charge against Sima Qian was “misleading the emperor.” This was a crime that was punishable by execution. In Han times, it was possible to commute the crime by paying a large sum of money. The amount would have been 500,000 cash. Sima Qian was not wealthy and could not afford to pay this huge sum. The only other choices left to Sima Qian were (1) to commit suicide, or (2) to undergo the punishment known as the “punishment of rottenness” — castration. The usual practice for a man of Sima Qian's status was to commit suicide. In his “Letter in response to Ren An” Sima Qian indicates that he had no choice but to accept the humiliation of castration, for he had not yet completed the task his father had bequeathed to him, completing the history.

In 96 BCE Sima Qian was released from prison and appointed palace secretary, a relatively high position. Scholars have assigned various dates for the year of his death. He may have died as early as 90 BCE or as late as 86 BCE.

Sima Qian's most important work is Shi ji 史記 (Grand scribe's record or records of the grand historian). He may have completed the work around 93 BCE.

Sima Qian is attributed with the “Bei shi buyu fu” 悲士不遇賦 (Fu lamenting the neglected scholar), which survives only as an extract in the Tang commonplace book Yiwen leiju (30.541). Although the piece was attributed to Sima Qian as early as the Six Dynasties period (see Tao Qian's preface to his “Gan shi buyu fu” 感士不遇賦, Tao Jingjie xiansheng ji 陶靖節先生集, Sbby, 5.1a), several modern scholars have doubted its authenticity. Most of the piece is not a personal complaint, but a general statement about the unlucky fate of the man of talent who was born in an unenlightened age.

About 司馬遷 (子長) (中文)

《漢書 卷62》

昔在顓頊,命南正重司天,火正黎司地。唐、虞之際,紹重、黎之後,使復典之,至於夏、商,故重、黎氏世序天地。其在周,程伯林甫其後也。當宣王時,官失其守而為司馬氏。司馬氏世典周史。惠、襄之間,司馬氏適晉。晉中軍隨會奔魏,而司馬氏入少梁。

自司馬氏去周適晉,分散,或在衛,或在趙,或在秦。其在衛者,相中山。在趙者,以傳劍論顯,蒯聵其後也。在秦者錯,與張儀爭論,於是惠王使錯將兵伐蜀,遂拔,因而守之。錯孫蘄,事武安君白起。而少梁更名夏陽。蘄與武安君坑趙長平軍,還而與之俱賜死杜郵,葬於華池。蘄孫昌,為秦王鐵官。當始皇之時,蒯聵玄孫卬為武信君將而徇朝歌。諸侯之相王,王卬於殷。漢之伐楚,卬歸漢,以其地為河內郡。昌生毋懌,毋懌為漢市長。毋懌生喜,喜為五大夫,卒,皆葬高門。喜生談,談為太史公。

太史公學天官於唐都,受《易》於楊何,習道論於黃子。太史公仕於建元、元封之間,愍學者不達其意而師悖,乃論六家之要指曰:

《易大傳》:「天下一致而百慮,同歸而殊塗。」夫陰陽、儒、墨、名、法、道德,此務為治者也。直所從言之異路,有省不省耳。嘗竊觀陰陽之術,大詳而眾忌諱,使人拘而多畏,然其敘四時之大順,不可失也。儒者博而寡要,勞而少功,是以其事難盡從,然其敘君臣、父子之禮,列夫婦、長幼之別,不可易也。墨者儉而難遵,是以其事不可偏循;然其強本節用,不可廢也。法家嚴而少恩,然其正君臣上下之分,不可改也。名家使人儉而善失真,然其正名實,不可不察也。道家使人精神專一,動合無形,澹足萬物。其為術也,因陰陽之大順,采儒、墨之善,撮名、法之要,與時遷徙,應物變化,立俗施事,無所不宜,指約而易操,事少而功多。儒者則不然,以為人主天下之儀表也,君唱臣和,主先臣隨。如此,則主勞而臣佚。至於大道之要,去健羨,黜聰明,釋此而任術。夫神大用則竭,形大勞則敝;神形蚤衰,欲與天地長久,非所聞也。

夫陰陽,四時、八位、十二度、二十四節各有孝令,曰「順之者昌,逆之者亡」,未必然也,故曰「使人拘而多畏」。夫春生、夏長、秋收、冬藏,此天道之大經也,弗順,則無以為天下紀綱。故曰「四時之大順,不可失也」。

夫儒者,以六藝為法,六藝經傳以千萬數,累世不能通其學,當年不能究其禮。故曰「博而寡要,勞而少功」。若夫列君臣、父子之禮,序夫婦、長幼之別,雖百家弗能易也。

墨者亦上堯、舜,言其德行,曰「堂高三尺,土階三等,茅茨不剪,采椽不斫;飯土簋,歠土刑,糲梁之食,藜藿之羹;夏日葛衣,冬日鹿裘。」其送死,桐棺三寸,舉音不盡其哀。教喪禮,必以此為萬民率。故天下法若此,則尊卑無別也。夫世異時移,事業不必同,故曰「儉而難遵」也。要曰「強本節用」,則人給家足之道也。此墨子之所長,雖百家不能廢也。

法家不別親疏,不殊貴賤,一斷於法,則親親尊尊之恩絕矣,可以行一時之計,而不可長用也,故曰「嚴而少恩」。若尊主卑臣,明分職不得相逾越,雖百家不能改也。

名家苛察繳繞,使人不得反其意,剸決於名,時失人情,故曰「使人儉而善失真」。若夫控名責實,參伍不失,此不可不察也。

道家無為,又曰無不為,其實易行,其辭難知。其術以虛無為本,以因循為用。無成勢,無常形,故能究萬物之情。不為物先後,故能為萬物主。有法無法,因時為業;有度無度,因物興捨。故曰「聖人不巧,時變是守」。虛者,道之常也;因者,君之綱也。群臣並至,使各自明也。其實中其聲者謂之端,實不中其聲者謂之款。款言不聽,奸乃不生,賢不肖自分,白黑乃形。在所欲用耳,何事不成!乃合大道,混混冥冥。光耀天下,復反無名。凡人所生者神也,所託者形也。神大用則竭,形大勞則敝,形神離則死。死者不可復生,離者不可復合,故聖人重之。由此觀之,神者生之本,形者生之俱。不先定其神形,而曰「我有以治天下」,何由哉?

太史公既掌天官,不治民。有子曰遷。

遷生龍門,耕牧河山之陽。年十歲則誦古文。二十而南遊江、淮,上會稽,探禹穴,窺九疑,浮沅、湘。北涉汶、泗,講業齊魯之都,觀夫子遺風,鄉射鄒嶧;厄困蕃、薛、彭城,過梁、楚以歸。於是遷仕為郎中,奉使西征巴、蜀以南,略邛、莋、昆明,還報命。

是歲,天子始建漢家之封,而太史公留滯周南,不得與從事,發憤且卒。而子遷適反,見父於河、洛之間。太史公執遷手而泣曰:「予先,周室之太史也。自上世嘗顯功名虞、夏,典天官事。後世中衰,絕於予乎?汝復為太史,則續吾祖矣。今天子接千歲之統,封泰山,而予不得從行,是命也夫!命也夫!予死,爾必為太史;為太史,毋忘吾所欲論著矣。且夫孝,始於事親,中於事君,終於立身;揚名於後世,以顯父母,此孝之大也。夫天下稱周公,言其能論歌文、武之德,宣周、召之風,達大王、王季思慮,爰及公劉,以尊後稷也。幽、厲之後,王道缺,禮樂衰,孔子修舊起廢,論《詩》、《書》,作《春秋》,則學者至今則之。自獲麟以來四百有餘歲,而諸侯相兼,史記放絕。今漢興,海內一統,明主賢君,忠臣義士,予為太史而不論載,廢天下之文,予甚懼焉,爾其念哉!」遷俯首流涕曰:「小子不敏,請悉論先人所次舊聞,不敢闕。」卒三歲,而遷為太史令,紬史記石室金鐀之書。五年而當太初元年,十一月甲子朔旦冬至,天歷始改,建於明堂,諸神受記。

太史公曰:「先人有言「『自周公卒五百歲而有孔子,孔子至於今五百歲,有能紹而明之,正《易傳》,繼《春秋》,本《詩》、《書》、《禮》、《樂》之際。』意在斯乎!意在斯乎!小子何敢攘焉!」

上大夫壺遂曰:「昔孔子為何作《春秋》哉?」太史公曰:「余聞之董生:『周道廢,孔子為魯司寇,諸侯害之,大夫壅之。孔子知時之不用,道之不行也,是非二百四十二年之中,以為天下儀表,貶諸侯,討大夫,以達王事而已矣。』子曰:『我欲載之空言,不如見之於行事之深切著明也。』《春秋》上明三王之道,下辨人事之經紀,別嫌疑,明是非,定猶與,善善惡惡,賢賢賤不肖,存亡國,繼絕世,補弊起廢,王道之大者也。《易》,著天地、陰陽、四時、五行,故長於變;《禮》,綱紀人倫,故長於行;《書》,記先王之事,故長於政;《詩》,記山川、溪谷、禽獸、草木、牝牡、雌雄,故長於風;《樂》,樂所以立,故長於和;《春秋》,辯是非,故長於治人。是故《禮》以節人,《樂》以發和,《書》以道事,《詩》以達意,《易》以道化,《春秋》以道義。撥亂世反之正,莫近於《春秋》。《春秋》文成數萬,其指數千。萬物之散聚皆在《春秋》。《春秋》之中,弒君三十六,亡國五十二,諸侯奔走不得保社稷者不可勝數。察其所以,皆失其本已。故《易》曰『差以豪氂,謬以千里』。故『臣弒君,子弒父,非一朝一夕之故,其漸久矣』。有國者不可以不知《春秋》,前有讒而不見,後有賊而不知。為人臣者不可以不知《春秋》,守經事而不知其宜,遭變事而不知其權。為人君父者而不通於《春秋》之義者,必蒙首惡之名。為人臣子不通於《春秋》之義者,必陷篡弒誅死之罪。其實皆為善為之,而不知其義,被之空言不敢辭。夫不通禮義之指,至於君不君,臣不臣,父不父,子不子。夫君不君則犯,臣不臣則誅,父不父則無道,子不子則不孝:此四行者,天下之大過也。以天下大過予之,受而不敢辭。故《春秋》者,禮義之大宗也。夫禮禁未然之前,法施已然之後;法之所為用者易見,而禮之所為禁者難知。」

壺遂曰:「孔子之時,上無明君,下不得任用,故作《春秋》,垂空文以斷禮義,當一王之法。今夫子上遇明天子,下得守職,萬事既具,咸各序其宜,夫子所論,欲以何明?」太史公曰:「唯唯,否否,不然。余聞之先人曰:『虙戲至純厚,作《易》八卦。堯、舜之盛,《尚書》載之,禮樂作焉。湯、武之降,詩人歌之。《春秋》采善貶惡,推三代之德,褒周室,非獨刺譏而已也。』漢興已來,至明天子,獲符瑞,封禪,改正朔,易服色,受命於穆清,澤流罔極,海外殊俗,重譯款塞,請來獻見者,不可勝道。臣下百官,力誦聖德,猶不能宣盡其意。且士賢能矣,而不用,有國者恥也;主上明聖,德不布聞,有司之過也。且余掌其官,廢明聖盛德不載,滅功臣、賢大夫之業不述,墮先人所言,罪莫大焉。余所謂述故事,整齊其世傳,非所謂作也,而君比之《春秋》,謬矣。」

於是論次其文。十年而遭李陵之禍,幽於累紲。乃喟然而歎曰:「是余之罪夫!身虧不用矣。」退而深惟曰:「夫《詩》、《書》隱約者,欲遂其志之思也。」卒述陶唐以來,至於麟止,自黃帝始。《五帝本紀》第一,《夏本紀》第二,《殷本紀》第三,《周本紀》第四,《秦本紀》第五,《始皇本紀》第六,《項羽本紀》第七,《高祖本紀》第八,《呂後本紀》第九,《孝文本紀》第十,《孝景本紀》第十一,《今上本紀》第十二。《三代世表》第一,《十二諸侯年表》第二,《六國年表》第三,《秦楚之際月表》第四,《漢諸侯年表》第五,《高祖功臣年表》第六,《惠景間功臣年表》第七,《建元以來侯者年表》第八,《王子侯者年表》第九,《漢興以來將相名臣年表》第十。《禮書》第一,《樂書》第二,《律書》第三,《歷書》第四,《天官書》第五,《封禪書》第六,《河渠書》第七,《平準書》第八。《吳太伯世家》第一,《齊太公世家》第二,《魯周公世家》第三,《燕召公世家》第四,《管蔡世家》第五,《陳杞世家》第六,《衛康叔世家》第七,《宋微子世家》第八,《晉世家》第九,《楚世家》第十,《越世家》第十一,《鄭世家》第十二,《趙世家》第十三,《魏世家》第十四,《韓世家》第十五,《田完世家》第十六,《孔子世家》第十七,《陳涉世家》第十八,《外戚世家》第十九,《楚元王世家》第二十,《荊燕王世家》第二十一,《齊悼惠王世家》第二十二,《蕭相國世家》第二十三,《曹相國世家》第二十四,《留侯世家》第二十五,《陳丞相世家》第二十六,《絳侯世家》第二十七,《梁孝王世家》第二十八,《五宗世家》第二十九,《三王世家》第三十。《伯夷列傳》經一,《管晏列傳》第二,《老子韓非列傳》第三,《司與穰苴列傳》第四,《孫子吳起列傳》第五,《伍子胥列傳》第六,《仲尼弟子列傳》第七,《商君列傳》第八,《蘇秦列傳》第九,《張儀列傳》第十,《樗裡甘茂列傳》第十一,《穰侯列傳》第十二,《白起王翦列傳》第十三,《孟子荀卿列傳》第十四,《平原虞卿列傳》第十五,《孟嘗君列傳》第十六,《魏公子列傳》第十七,《春申君列傳》第十八,《范睢蔡澤列傳》第十九,《樂毅列傳》第二十,《廉頗藺相如列傳》第二十一,《田單列傳》第二十二,《魯仲連列傳》第二十三,《屈原賈生列傳》第二十四,《呂不韋列傳》第二十五,《刺客列傳》第二十六,《李斯列傳》第二十七,《蒙恬列傳》第二十八,《張耳陳餘列傳》第二十九,《魏豹彭越列傳》第三十,《黥布列傳》第三十一,《淮陰侯韓信列傳》第三十二,《韓王信盧綰列傳》第三十三,《田儋列傳》第三十四,《樊酈滕灌列傳》第三十五,《張丞相倉列傳》第三十六,《酈生陸賈列傳》第三十七,《傅靳崩阜成侯列傳》第三十八,《劉敬叔孫通列傳》第三十九,《季布欒布列傳》第四十,《爰盎朝錯列傳》第四十一,《張釋之馮唐列傳》第四十二,《萬石張叔列傳》第四十三,《田叔列傳》第四十四,《扁鵲倉公列傳》第四十五,《吳王濞列傳》第四十六,《魏其武安列傳》第四十七,《韓長孺列傳》第四十八,《李將軍列傳》第四十九,《衛將軍驃騎列傳》第五十,《平津主父列傳》第五十一,《匈奴列傳》第五十二,《南越列傳》第五十三,《閩越列傳》第五十四,《朝鮮列傳》第五十五,《西南夷列傳》第五十六,《司馬相如列傳》第五十七,《淮南衡山列傳》第五十八,《循吏列傳》第五十九,《汲鄭列傳》第六十,《儒林列傳》第六十一,《酷吏列傳》第六十二,《大宛列傳》第六十三,《遊俠列傳》第六十四,《佞幸列傳》第六十五,《滑稽列傳》第六十六,《日者列傳》第六十七,《龜策列傳》第六十八,《貨殖列傳》第六十九。

惟漢繼五帝末流,接三代絕業。周道既廢,秦撥去古文,焚滅《詩》、《書》,故明堂、石室、金鐀、玉版圖籍散亂。漢興,蕭何次律令,韓信申軍法,張蒼為章程,叔孫通定禮儀,則文學彬彬稍進,《詩》、《書》往往間出。自曹參薦蓋公言黃、老,而賈誼、韓錯明申、朝,公孫弘以儒顯,百年之間,天下遺文古事靡不畢集。太史公仍父子相繼籑其職,曰:「於戲!余維先人嘗掌斯事,顯於唐、虞;至於周,復典之。故司馬氏世主天宮,至於余乎,欽念哉!」網羅天下放失舊聞,王跡所興,原始察終,見盛觀衰,論考之行事,略三代,錄秦、漢,上記軒轅,下至於茲,著十二本紀;既科條之矣,並時異世,年差不明,作十表;禮樂損益,律歷改易,兵權、山川、鬼神,天人之際,承敝通變,作八書;二十八宿環北辰,三十輻共一轂,運行無窮,輔弼股肱之臣配焉,忠信行道以奉主上,作三十世家;扶義俶儻,不令己失時,立功名於天下,作七十列傳:凡百三十篇,五十二萬六千五百字,為《太史公書》。序略,以拾遺補闕,成一家言,協《六經》異傳,齊百家雜語,臧之名山,副在京師,以俟後聖君子。第七十,遷之自敘雲爾。而十篇缺,有錄無書。

遷既被刑之後,為中書令,尊寵任職。故人益州刺史任安予遷書,責以古賢臣之義。遷報之曰:

少卿足下:曩者辱賜書,教以慎於接物,推賢進士為務。意氣勤勤懇懇,若望僕不相師用,而流俗人之言。僕非敢如是也。雖罷駑,亦嘗側聞長者遺風矣。顧自以為身殘處穢,動而見尤,欲益反損,是以抑鬱而無誰語。諺曰:「誰為為之,孰令聽之?」蓋鍾子期死,伯牙終身不復鼓琴。何則?士為知已用,女為說己容。若僕大質已虧缺,雖材懷隨、行,行若由、夷,終不可以為榮,適足以發笑而自點耳。

書辭宜答,會東從上來,又迫賤事,相見日淺,卒卒無須臾之間得竭指意。今少卿抱不測之罪,涉旬月,迫季冬,僕又薄從上上雍,恐卒然不可諱。是僕終已不得舒憤懣以曉左右,則長逝者魂魄私恨無窮。請略陳固陋。闕然不報,幸勿過。

僕聞之:修身者,智之府也;愛施者,仁之端也;取予者,義之符也;恥辱者,勇之決也;立名者,行之極也:士有此五者,然後可以托於世,列於君子之林矣。故禍莫憯於欲利,悲莫痛於傷心,行莫醜於辱先,而詬莫大於官刑。刑餘之人,無所比數,非一也,所從來遠矣!昔衛靈公與雍渠載,孔子適陳;商鞅因景監見,趙良寒心;同子參乘,爰絲變色:自古而恥之。夫中材之人,事關於宦豎,莫不傷氣,況慷慨之士乎!如今朝雖乏人,奈何令刀鋸之餘薦天下豪雋哉!僕賴先人緒業,得待罪輦轂下,二十餘年矣。所以自惟:上之,不能納忠效信,有奇策材力之譽,自結明主;次之,又不能拾遺補闕,招賢進能,顯巖穴之士;外之,不能備行伍,攻城野戰,有斬將搴旗之功;下之,不能累日積勞,取尊官厚祿,以為宗族交遊光寵。四者無一遂,苟合取容,無所短長之效,可見於此矣。鄉者,僕亦嘗廁下大夫之列,陪外廷末議。不以此時引維綱,盡思慮,今已虧形為掃除之隸,在闒茸之中,乃欲卬首信眉,論列是非,不亦輕朝廷,羞當世之士邪!嗟乎!嗟乎!如僕,尚何言哉!尚何言哉!

且事本末未易明也。僕少負不羈之才,長無鄉曲之譽,主上幸以先人之故,使得奉薄技,出入周衛之中。僕以為戴盆何以望天,故絕賓客之知,忘室家之業,日夜思竭其不肖之材力,務壹心營職,以求親媚於主上。而事乃有大謬不然者。夫僕與李陵俱居門下,素非相善也,趣捨異路,未嘗銜杯酒接殷勤之歡。然僕觀其為人自奇士,事親孝,與士信,臨財廉,取予義,分別有讓,恭儉下人,常思奮不顧身以徇國家之急。其素所畜積也,僕以為有國士之風。夫人臣出萬死不顧一生之計,趙公家之難,斯已奇矣。今舉事壹不當,而全軀保妻子之臣隨而媒孽其短,僕誠私心痛之!且李陵提步卒不滿五千,深踐戎馬之地,足歷王庭,垂餌虎口,橫挑強胡,卬億萬之師,與單于連戰十餘日,所殺過當。虜救死扶傷不給,旃裘之君長咸震怖,乃悉征左右賢王,舉引弓之民,一國共攻而圍之。轉鬥千里,矢盡道窮,救兵不至,士卒死傷如積。然李陵一呼勞軍,士無不起,躬流涕,沫血飲泣,張空,冒白刃,北首爭死敵。陵未沒時,使有來報,漢公卿王侯皆奉觴上壽。後數日,陵敗書聞,主上為之食不甘味,聽朝不怡。大臣憂懼,不知所出。僕竊不自料其卑賤,見主上慘淒怛悼,誠欲效其款款之愚。以為李陵素與士大夫絕甘分少,能得人之死力,雖古名將不過也。身雖陷敗,彼觀其意,且欲得其當而報漢。事已無可奈何,其所摧敗,攻亦足以暴於天下。僕懷欲陳之,而未有路,適會召問,即以此指推言陵功,欲以廣主上之意,塞睚眥之辭。未能盡明,明主不深曉,以為僕沮貳師,而為李陵遊說,遂下於理。拳拳之忠,終不能自列。因為誣上,卒從吏議。家貧,財賂不足以自贖,交遊莫救,左右親近不為一言。身非木石,獨與法吏為伍,深幽囹圄之中,誰可告訴者!此正少卿所親見,僕行事豈不然邪?李陵既生降,頹其家聲,而僕又茸以蠶室,重為天下觀笑。悲夫!悲夫!

事未易一二為俗人言也。僕之先人,非有剖符丹書之功,文史、星曆,近乎卜祝之間,固主上所戲弄,倡優畜之,流俗之所輕也。假令僕伏法受誅,若九牛亡一毛,與螻蟻何異!而世又不與能死節者比,特以為智窮罪極,不能自免,卒就死耳。何也?素所自樹立使然。人固有一死,死有重於泰山,或輕於鴻毛,用之所趨異也。太上不辱先,其次不辱身,其次不辱理色,其次不辱辭令,其次詘體受辱,其次易服受辱,其次關木索被箠楚受辱,其次剔毛髮嬰金鐵受辱,其次毀肌膚斷支體受辱,最下腐刑,極矣。傳曰「刑不上大夫」,此言士節不可不厲也。猛虎處深山,百獸震恐,及其在阱檻之中,搖尾而求食,積威約之漸也。故士有畫地為牢勢不入,削木為吏議不對,定計於鮮也。今交手足,受木索,暴肌膚,受榜箠,幽於圜牆之中,當此之時,見獄吏則頭槍地,視徒隸則心惕息。何者?積威約之勢也。及已至此,言不辱者,所謂強顏耳,曷足貴乎!且西伯,伯也,拘牖裡;李斯,相也,具五刑;淮陰,王也,受械於陳;彭越、張敖,南鄉稱孤,繫獄具罪;絳侯誅諸呂,權傾五伯,囚於請室;魏其,大將也,衣赭,關三木;季布為硃家鉗奴;灌夫受辱居室;此人皆身至王侯將相,聲聞鄰國,及罪至罔加,不能引決自財。在塵埃之中,古今一體,安在其不辱也!由此言之,勇怯,勢也;強弱,形也。審矣,曷足怪乎!且人不能蚤自財繩墨之外,已稍陵夷至於鞭箠之間,乃欲引節,斯不亦遠乎!古人所以重施刑於大夫者,殆為此也。夫人情莫不貪生惡死,念親戚,顧妻子,至激於義理者不然,乃有不得已也。今僕不幸,蚤失二親,無兄弟之親,獨身孤立,少卿視僕於妻子何如哉?且勇者不必死節,怯夫慕義,何處不勉焉!僕雖怯耎欲苟活,亦頗識去就之分矣,何至自湛溺累紲之辱哉!且夫臧獲婢妾猶能引決,況若僕之不得已乎!所以隱忍苟活,函糞土之中而不辭者,恨私心有所不盡,鄙沒世而文采不表於後也。

古者富貴而名摩滅,不可勝記,唯俶儻非常之人稱焉。蓋西伯拘而演《周易》;仲尼厄而作《春秋》;屈原放逐,乃賦《離騷》;左丘失明,厥有《國語》,孫子臏腳,《兵法》修列;不韋遷蜀,世傳《呂覽》;韓非囚秦,《說難》、《孤憤》。《詩》三百篇,大氐賢聖發憤之所為作也。此人皆意有所鬱結,不得通其道,故述往事,思來者。及如左丘無目,孫子斷足,終不可用,退論書策以舒其憤,思垂空文以自見。僕竊不遜,近自托於無能之辭,網羅天下放失舊聞,考之行事,稽其成敗興壞之理,凡百三十篇,亦欲以究天人之際,通古今之變,成一家之言。草創未就,適會此禍,惜其不成,是以就極刑而無慍色。僕誠已著此書,藏之名山,傳之其人,通邑大都,則僕償前辱之責,雖萬被戮,豈有悔哉!然此可為智者道,難為俗人言也。

且負下未易居,下流多謗議。僕以口語遇遭此禍,重為鄉黨戮笑,污辱先人,亦何面目復上父母之丘墓乎?雖累百世,垢彌甚耳!是以腸一日而九迴,居則忽忽若有所亡,出則不知所如往。每念斯恥,汗未嘗不發背沾衣也。身直為閨閣之臣,寧得自引深臧於巖穴邪!故且從俗浮湛,與時俯仰,以通其狂惑。今少卿乃教以推賢進士,無乃與僕之私指謬乎?今雖欲自雕瑑,曼辭以自解,無益,於俗不信,只取辱耳。要之死日,然後是非乃定。書不能盡意,故略陳固陋。

遷既死後,其書稍出。宣帝時,遷外孫平通侯楊惲祖述其書,遂宣佈焉。王莽時,求封遷後,為史通子。

贊曰:自古書契之作而有史官,其載籍愽矣。至孔氏籑之,上繼唐堯,下訖秦繆。唐虞以前雖有遺文,其語不經,故言黃帝、顓頊之事未可明也。及孔子因魯史記而作《春秋》,而左丘明論輯其本事是以為之傳,又籑異同為《國語》。又有世本,錄黃帝以來至春秋時帝王公侯卿大夫祖世所出。春秋之後,七國並爭,秦兼諸侯,有《戰國策》。漢興伐秦定天下,有《楚漢春秋》。故司馬遷據《左氏》、《國語》,采《世本》、《戰國策》,述《楚漢春秋》,接其後事,訖於大漢。其言秦漢,詳矣。至於采經摭傳,分散數家之事,甚多疏略,或有抵梧。亦其涉獵者廣博,貫穿經傳,馳騁古今,上下數千載間,斯以勤矣。又其是非頗繆於聖人,論大道則先黃老而後六經,序遊俠則退處士而進姦雄,述貨殖則崇埶利而羞賤貧,此其所蔽也。然自劉向、楊雄博極羣書,皆稱遷有良史之材,服其善序事理,辨而不華,質而不俚,其文直,其事核,不虛美,不隱惡,故謂之實錄。烏呼!以遷之博物洽聞,而不能以知自全,旣陷極刑,幽而發憤,書亦信矣。跡其所以自傷悼,小雅巷伯之倫。夫唯大雅「旣明且哲,能保其身」,難矣哉!

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Sima Qian 司馬遷's Timeline

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-145
near Hancheng, Shaanxi, China
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-86
Age 58
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