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The woman of Chen, Xia Ji, was the mother of dafu Xia Zhengshu of Chen, and the wife of Yushu.

Her outer appearance was beautiful and no one could equal it, inside she held on to various talents. Although she was old, she retained these capabilities.

Thrice she was queen, and seven times the wife of a dafu.

Dukes and marquises fought about her, there was nobody who didn't lose his head over her and got into struggles.

Xia Ji's son Zhengshu became dafu.

Gongsun Ningyi, Hangfu and and Duke Ling of Chen all had affairs with Xia Ji.

Some dressed in her clothes, some took a piece of cloth from them and played with it in court.

Xie Ye saw this, and said to them: "When the rules commits errors, you ought to stop him."

Now he follows you, and you lead the ruler in doing this!

You do not stay secluded in the court, but make a show of it for the people to see, how could this be called stopping him?

These two informed Duke Ling, who said:

"If the people know about it, that I am no good, there is no harm. But if Xie Ye knows it, I am ashamed."

Then he sent someone to summon an assassin to kill Xie Ye.

Duke Ling and his two sons were drinking at the Xia residence, and summoned Zheng Shu.

The duke jokingly said to his two sons: "Zheng Shu is like you."

His sons said: "It's better than being like the duke!"

Zheng Shu was distressed by these words.

When Duke Ling finished drinking and went out, Zheng Shu was hiding at the gate of the stables, and shot Duke Ling dead.

Gongsun Ningyi and Hangfu both fled to Chu, and the crown prince of Duke Ling, Wu, fled to Jin.

The next year, King Zhuang of Chu raised troops, punished Zheng Shu, established order in the state of Chen, and enthroned Wu as Duke Cheng.

King Zhuang saw the beauty of Xia Ji, desired to take her with him, but the duke of Shen, Wuchen, remonstrated with him:

You can not. Your majesty punished a crime, and now desiring to take Xia Ji, this is coveting her beauty.

Coveting beauty leads to lewdness, lewdness leads to great punishments. I wish your majesty would consider this.

The king followed this advice, ordered the rear wall destroyed and exited through it.

General Zifan saw her beauty, and also wanted to have her.

Wuchen remonstrated with him, too: "This person does not bring luck. She had Yushu killed, Duke Ling assassinated,

Xia Nan executed, Kong Yi exiled and the state of Chen ruined!

In the world there are many beautiful women, why must you have this one?" Zifan then abandoned his plan.

King Zhuang gave Xia Ji to Lianyi Xiang Lao. Xiang Lao died at Bi,

his body was lost, and his son Heiyao then had an affair with Xia Ji.

Wuchen saw Xia Ji, and said to her: "If you return, I will marry you."

When King Gong was crowned, Wuchen found her a husband in Qi, then left with his family.

When arriving in Zheng, he sent a messenger to summon Xia Ji, saying: "The corpse can be fetched."

Xia Ji followed this summon. Wuchen sent an assistant to return the valuables to Chu, and fled to Jin with Xia Ji.

Dafu Zifan resented this, and with Zichong he exterminated Wuchen's clan and divided up their estate.

The ode says: "That she was such a person! She was eagerly thinking of marriage; she was (greatly) very unreliable, she did not understand the will of Heaven." This speaks of favoring the beautiful and losing your life.
Note: from Bernhard Karlgren's translation of 蝃蝀 (ode 51). The full translation can be found below.


Translations by Bernhard Karlgren.



The rainbow in the east, nobody dares to point to it;
when a girl makes her journey, she goes far away from father and mother and brothers.


At dawn there are rising vapours in the west, it will rain all through the morning;
when a girl makes her journey, she goes far away from brothers and father and mother.


That she was such a person! She was eagerly thinking of marriage;
she was (greatly) very unreliable, she did not understand the will of Heaven.


While not quoted in the story above, Mao's commentary on the Shijing has the following to say about this ode:


This is an attack on Duke Ling. He was lewd with Xia Ji, galloping all the time, without rest.


What shall I do in Zhulin? I will follow Xia Nan;
It is not that I go to Zhulin; I will follow Xia Nan.


I will yoke my four-team of horses, and halt in the grounds of Zhu;
I will drive my four-team of colts, and have my morning meal in Zhu.



Chen put to death its great officer Xie Ye.




Duke Ling of Chen, with Kong Ning and Yi Hangfu, all had an intrigue with Xia Ji, and each of the three of them wore an article of her under clothing, with which they made game with one another in the court. Xie Ye remonstrated with the duke, saying, "When ruler and ministers thus proclaim their lewdness, the people have nothing good to imitate. The report of such things is not good;---let your lordship put that article away." The duke said he would change his conduct, but he told the other two what Xie Ye had said; and when they asked leave to kill him, he did not forbid them. Ye thereon was killed. Confucius said, "The words of the ode,

When the people have many perversities
Do not you set up your own perversity before them

are applicable to the case of Xie Ye."



When Chu punished the Head of the Xia family in Chen king Zhuang wanted to take Xia Ji to his harem; but Wuchen, duke of Shen, said to him, "Do not do so. You called out the States to punish a criminal. If you now take Xia Ji to your harem, it will be through desire of her beauty. Such desire is lewdness, and lewdness is a great crime. One of the Books of Zhou says, 'He illustrated virtue and carefully abstained from wickedness;'---it was thus that King Wen made Zhou. 'He illustrated his virtue;'---that is, he did his utmost to exalt it. 'He carefully abstained from wickedness;'---that is, he did his utmost to put it away. If having roused the States to this expedition, you go on to commit a great wickedness, that is not careful abstinence from it. Let your lordship well consider the matter." The king on this destined from his purpose.


Zifan then wished to take her; but Wuchen said to him, "She is a woman of evil omen. She brought [her brother] Ziman to an early death; proved the death of [her husband] Yushu; occasioned the murder of the marquis Ling, the execution of [her son] Xia Nan, the expulsion of Kong and Yi, and the ruin of the State of CHen. What more inauspicious a woman could there be? Man's life is encompassed with difficulties;---is there any one who cannot find death? There are many beautiful women in the world;---why must you have this one?" Zifan on this gave up his purpose.


The king then gave her to the Lianyin, Xiang Lao, who died at the battle of Bi, though his body had not been found. His son Heiyao then had a connection with her; but Wochen sent a message to her, saying, "Return and I will make you regularly my wife." He further brought it about that they should send from Zheng to call her there, on the ground that the body could be found, and that she must come and meet it. [Xia] Ji informed the king of this message, who asked Quwu [Wuchen] about it. Wuchen replied, 'The thing is true. The father of Zhi Ying was a favourite with duke Cheng, and is the youngest brother of Zhonghang Bo [Xuan Linfu]. He has recently been made assistant-commander of the army of the centre, and is very friendly with Huang Xu of Zheng. He is much attached to his son, and is sure, through Zheng, to offer to restore our king's son and the body of Xiang Lao in exchange for him. The people of Zheng are afraid in consequence of the battle of Bi, and anxious to conciliate its favour, so that they will agree to the wishes of Zhi Ying's father." The king sent Xia Ji back to Zheng, and as she was about to commence the journey, she said to those who were escorting her, "If I do not get the body, I will not return here." Wuchen made proposals of marriage with her to the earl of Zheng, who accepted them.


After the accession of king Gong when he was arranging for the expedition to Yangqiao, he sent Quwu to go on a friendly mission to Qi, and to inform the marquis of the time of taking the field. Wuchen took all his family along with him, and was met by Shen Shugui, who was going to Ying in the suite of his father. Shugui said to him, "How strange! You have the anxiety of all the armies of the State on your mind, and yet you are as bright as if proceeding to an encounter among the mulberry trees. You ought to be stealing a marriage with some lady!" When Wuchen got to Zheng, he sent his assistant in the mission back to Chu with the presents, and proceeded to go elsewhere with Xia Ji. He had been minded to fly to Qi, but as its army had sustained the recent defeat, he said, "I will not live in a State which is not victorious." and fled to Jin, where, by means of Xi Zhi, he obtained an appointment, and was made commandant of Xing. Zifan requested the king of Chu to present large offerings, and get him dismissed from service; but the king said, "He has gone in the way in which he had planned for himself; but in the plans which he laid for my father he was loyal. Loyalty secures for the stability of the altars, and may cover a multitude of offences. If he proves of advantage to it, moreover, would Jin listen to our request, though it were made with large offerings? If he do not prove of service, Jin will cast him off, without our having the trouble of seeking his dismissal."


狀 (zhuang4)appearance
匹 (pi3)peer, match
挾 (xie2)to hold, to grasp
伎、技 (ji4)talent
迷 (mi2)to delude, to bewitch
裴、裵 (pei2)look of a flowing gown
幡 (fan1)piece of cloth
戲 (xi4)to joke, to jest
宜 (yi2)should, ought to
掩 (yan3)to put a stop to
率 (shuai4)to follow, to lead
徵 (zheng1)summon
賊 (zei2)murderer
罷 (ba4)to stop, to cease
弩 (nu3)crossbow
廄 (jiu4)stables
討 (tao3)to punish
貪 (tan1)to covet
罰 (fa2)punishment
願 (yuan4)to wish
壞 (huai4)to destroy
垣 (yuan2)wall
祥 (xiang2)happy omen, auspicious
喪 (sang4)to destroy, to lose
戮 (lu4)to punish by death
聘 (pin4)to betroth a woman
介 (jie4)assistant
殞 (yun3)to lose (life)