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Who Is Sima Qian

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Caitlyn Boatman

on 20 October 2015

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Transcript of Who Is Sima Qian

Sima Qian and
The Records of the Historian

Who Is Sima Qian
Born in Longmen China, about
221 BCE

Worked as Grand Astrologer
for the Emperor until his death

Wrote
The Records of the
Historian,
A comprehensive
document examining China's
past.
Sima Qian
Methods




Cross referenced sections into relevant sections

Multiple narratives to develop single historical characters

Designates purposeful sections where he allows himself free speech

Inside the texts his opinions can also be found

Hints on morals of the time




Sima Qian's Motivation
Why Sima Qian Matters Today
The Records Of the Historian
gives us a comprehensive view of China's past and myths

It gives readers insights to ancient Chinese culture: what was considered brave and what was considered cowardly
A. Suicide and death in battle
B. Surrender to an enemy
C. Mutilation
Sima Qian And Herodotus: Similarities

Both documents contain narratives about important past individuals
i.e. Croesus and Gaozu

Both use narratives to teach a lesson

Both considered history important to consider when looking at the present.

Both have some focus on the political application of history


Obligated to finish father's record of history.

Makes for better history because he develops his credibility.
(No personal motivation to tamper with information)

Contrastingly, he worked for the empire and so felt he had to flatter them through history.




Differences:
Sima Qian: More methodical

Herodotus: Has large sections pertaining to barbarian culture.

Differ in placement of opinion
Final Questions
What do we gain from studying Herodotus and Sima Qian

Is Sima Qian simply a "scribe" or does he add his own opinion into his work?

What other differences can you find between Sima Qian and Herodotus?

Who, if either, is more reliable?
Why We Compare
-Gives us insight on differences in cultures

-Shows fundamental questions historians try to answer
-

Sima Qian
Morals
majority focus of on process of/after unification under Emporer

Idea of Unity/ larger conquering smaller

Herodotus emphasized wars against almost equal factions

Death as honorable

Loyalty to a fault (story of Maodun)


Full transcript