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Persons in Chinese History - Zhi Yu 摯虞

Periods of Chinese History
Zhi Yu 摯虞 (died 311 CE), courtesy name Zhi Zhongqia 摯仲洽, was a writer and politician of the Western Jin period 西晉 (265-316). He came from Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), and was a disciple of Huangfu Mi 皇甫謐. He was appointed palace attendant (zhonglang 中郎) and then rose to the office of secretary of the Heir Apparent (taizi sheren 太子舍人), then magistrate (ling 令) of Wenxi 聞喜, and then Chief Minister of the Palace Garrison (weiwei qing 衛尉卿). He starved during a famine crisis in the metropolitan region Luoyang 洛陽 (modern Luoyang, Henan).
Zhi Yu's philosophy was very sceptical, and he believed that human fate is thoroughly dependent on Heaven's will. Man has no chance to alter his fate, but can only try to comply with the way on which Heaven sends him. Celestial occurrences are reflected in social events.
Zhi Yu has written a vast amount of books, like Zuxing zhaomu 族姓昭穆, Wenzhangzhi 文章志, or the rhapsody Siyou fu 思遊賦. He has developed a theory on literature that is reflected in his writings Sanfu juelu zhu 三輔決錄注, Wenzhang liubie ji 文章流別集 and Wenzhang liubie lun 文章流別論. In these texts, Zhi Yu describes the development of the various literary genres, especially that of poetry. Zhi Yu was of the opinion that the best form of poetry were the ancient four-syllable verses, and the new five- and seven-syllable verses were unorthodox. His collected writings are lost, but fragments were collected during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), and compiled to the book Jin Zhi Taichang ji 晉摯太常集. Zhang Peng 張鵬 has recently published the collection Zhi Taichang yishu 摯太常遺書.

Source: Xiao Yuan 曉源 (1996), "Zhi Yu 摯虞", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升 (ed.), Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 84.

March 1, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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