An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Guliangzhuan 穀梁傳

Jul 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Guliangzhuan 穀梁傳 is a commentary on the Confucian Classic Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals". It is traditionally attributed to Guliang Chi 穀梁赤 (also called Guliang Xi 穀梁喜 or Guliang Shu 穀梁淑) from the state of Lu 魯 who, having obtained a copy of the Chunqiu Annals from Confucius' disciple Zixia 子夏, wrote a commentary on it.

The book is in fact the result of a commentary tradition that found its final codification at the beginning of the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE). During the reign of Emperor Xuan 漢宣帝 (r. 74 – 49 BCE) the Gongyangzhuan was made part of the Confucian Canon that constituted the curriculum in the National University (taixue 太學). Although the principle of commenting the entries of the Chunqiu Annals and the objective to make a moral evaluation of the political events is the same as in the Gongyang Commentary Gongyangzhuan 公羊傳, there are differences between the interpretations of the two.

During the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420) Fan Ning 范寧 wrote a summary commentary on the Guliangzhuan called Chunqiu Guliangzhuan jijie 春秋穀梁傳集解. The Tang period 唐 (618-907) scholar Yang Shixun 楊士勛 compiled another commentary. Both were unified as Chunqiu Guliangzhuan zhushu 春秋穀梁傳注疏, with the zhu commentary of Fan Ning and the shu commentary of Yang Shixun. During the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) Zhong Wenzheng 鍾文蒸 compiled the commentary Guliang buzhu 穀梁補注.

The commentaries by Gongyang and Guliang are two surviving out of four. The two lost commentaries had been written by Master Zou 鄒氏 and Master Xia 夾氏.

Quotation 1. The Earl of Zheng Overcame Duan in Yan
隱公元年 First Year of Duke Yin (722 BCE)
【經】夏五月,鄭伯克段于鄢。 [The Chunqiu Classic] In summer, in the fifth month, the Earl of Zheng 鄭 overcame Duan 段 in Yan 鄢.
【穀梁傳】克者何?能也。 [Guliang Commentary] What does mean "overcame"? This means, [the Earl] had the ability.
何能也?能殺也。 What means, "he had the ability"? He was able to kill [Duan].
何以不言殺?見段之有徒眾也。 Why does [the text] not say "killed"? Because he saw that Duan had troops with him.
段、鄭伯弟也,何以知其為弟也?殺世子母弟目君,以其目君,知其為弟也。 Duan was the younger brother of the Earl of Zheng. How should [the reader] know he was the younger brother? If a rightful heir of the younger brother of the same mother is killed, this points at the lord. Because the lord is pointed at, one knows that [Duan] was the younger brother.
段、弟也,而弗謂弟;公子也,而弗謂公子,貶之也,段失子弟之道矣,賤段而甚鄭伯也。 The fact that Duan was a younger brother but is not called so, and that he was a ducal son, and is not called so, is an expression of blaming him. He had lost the proper way of behaving like a younger brother. It is a humilation of Duan and [shows the] serious [offence] of the Earl of Zheng.
何甚乎鄭伯?甚鄭伯之處心積慮成於殺也。 Why was [the crime] of the Earl of Zheng so serious? It is serious because he nourished a [long-term] plot in his heart to kill [his younger brother].
于鄢、遠也,猶曰取之其母之懷中而殺之云爾,甚之也。 "In Yan" means, far away from the ducal residence, and is the same as if [the Earl] had taken [his younger brother] away from their [common] mother's bosom and had killed him - it is an aggravation [of the crime].
然則為鄭伯者宜奈何?緩追逸賊,親親之道也。 What, then, could the Earl of Zheng have done otherwise? Slowly pursue him, to drive out the bandits - this is the proper way of dealing with kinsmen.
Chen Jinsheng 陳金生 (1987). "Chunqiu Guliangzhuan 春秋穀梁傳", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhexue 哲學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 104.
Luo Shilie 羅世烈 (1992). "Guliangzhuan 穀梁傳", Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 260.