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From Myth to History: Historicizing a Sage for the Sake of Persuasion in the Yellow Emperor Narratives

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Among the many depictions of the Yellow Emperor that survive in a number of early Chinese texts, the historicized image of this purported ancient sage king has been accepted by many Chinese scholars as that of a historical figure and has greatly inspired their reconstruction of China’s remote past. In examining some of the extant Huangdi narratives, especially passages preserved in the Discourses of the States [Guoyu], Records of the Grand Historian [Shiji], and Remaining Zhou Documents [Yi Zhoushu], this paper reveals a trend of historicizing an originally mythical Yellow Emperor presented in early Chinese writings. It also explores the historiographical reasoning behind such historicization and provides an alternative approach emphasizing the role of persuasion in the Huangdi narratives.

Affiliations: 1: Renmin University of China hanmochang@yahoo.com

10.1163/23521341-12340045
/content/journals/10.1163/23521341-12340045
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2017-02-08
2017-11-23

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