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The story of 帝堯 according to ChatGPT.


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ChatGPT (4) can read Classical Chinese very well, and is very knowledgeable about the Classics. It also can create great illustrations.


We're about to get spoiled...



This phrase, when translated, means "wearing pure yellow robes, riding a red chariot pulled by a white horse." In the image:

  1. Pure Yellow Robes (黃收純衣): Emperor Yao is shown wearing traditional Chinese robes in a bright, pure yellow color. Yellow was historically a color of great significance in ancient China, often associated with the emperor and representing power, royalty, and respect.

  2. Red Chariot (彤車): The emperor is depicted riding in a bright red chariot. The color red in Chinese culture symbolizes good fortune and joy, and its use in the chariot adds to the imperial and auspicious nature of the scene.

  3. White Horse (乘白馬): The chariot is pulled by a white horse. The white horse adds a contrast to the scene, both in color and in symbolism. In various cultures, including Chinese, a white horse can represent purity, heroism, and nobility.

The overall image, with Emperor Yao in his yellow robes, the red chariot, and the white horse, brings to life the phrase from the text, illustrating the regal and almost divine nature of Emperor Yao, as well as the splendor and majesty of his reign, as described in ancient Chinese texts.




The image depicts a scene inspired by a specific fragment from the second paragraph of the text, which discusses Emperor Yao's command to observe and chart the heavens. This command is given to figures named Xi and He, directing them to respect and follow the celestial patterns.

In the image, you see an ancient Chinese celestial observatory. This setting directly relates to Yao's decree to meticulously observe and record the movements of the sun, moon, stars, and other celestial bodies. The astronomers, dressed in traditional attire, are shown using large, intricate bronze instruments typical of ancient Chinese astronomy, such as armillary spheres and gnomons. These tools were historically used to measure and predict the positions of celestial objects, aligning well with the text's focus on astronomical observation and the regulation of time.

The scene captures the mystical and serene atmosphere suggested by the text, with a star-filled sky and ambient lighting, blending earthy tones with deep blues and silvers. This aligns with the ancient Chinese belief in the harmony between earth and cosmos, a theme that is central to the part of the text dealing with the ordering of celestial observations and the imparting of this knowledge to the people. The setting on a high mountaintop further emphasizes the observatory's purpose of connecting with the heavens, reflecting the text's theme of celestial harmony and order.




Create an interlinear translation for the story of 帝堯 from the book 史記. Proper names appearing in the translation should have tone marks, and the characters indicated. Add in explanations of cultural references characters objects that are culturally special and significant, also explain if the location of the places mentioned is known. Explain the meaning of the characters in place names. Here's the text: 帝堯者,放勳。其仁如天,其知如神。就之如日,望之如雲。富而不驕,貴而不舒。黃收純衣,彤車乘白馬。能明馴德,以親九族。九族既睦,便章百姓。百姓昭明,合和萬國。



The story of 帝堯 (Dì Yáo) from the 史記 (Shǐjì, "Records of the Grand Historian") is a classic narrative in Chinese history and mythology. The text is rich in cultural and historical references. Here's an interlinear translation of the passage you provided, with explanations and context:

Dì Yáo zhě, Fàng Xūn.
Emperor Yao, [was] Fàng Xūn [his personal name].
Emperor Yao is a legendary Chinese ruler known for his virtue and wisdom. Fàng Xūn is his personal name.

Qí rén rú tiān, qí zhī rú shén.
His benevolence [was] like [the] sky, his wisdom [was] like [a] deity.
This expresses Emperor Yao’s vast benevolence and wisdom, likening them to the sky and a divine being, respectively.

Jiù zhī rú rì, wàng zhī rú yún.
Approaching him [was] like [the] sun, looking at him [was] like [the] clouds.
These lines compare the experience of being near Yao to the warmth of the sun and his esteemed presence to the grandeur of clouds.

Fù ér bù jiāo, guì ér bù shū.
Rich yet not arrogant, noble yet not lax.
Yao was known for his humility and diligence despite his wealth and high status.

Huáng shōu chún yī, tóng chē chéng bái mǎ.
Yellow for the collected pure clothes, red carriage riding white horses.
This describes his simple attire (yellow symbolizing earth and purity in ancient China) and his red carriage with white horses, signifying nobility.

Néng míng xún dé, yǐ qīn jiǔ zú.
Able [to] brighten cultivated virtues, thereby making close [his] nine clans.
Yao was able to enlighten and improve the virtues of his family, extending to his nine different familial clans.

Jiǔ zú jì mù, biàn zhāng bǎi xìng.
Nine clans already harmonious, then [he] spread [this] to [the] hundred surnames.
Having established harmony within his extended family, he then extended these principles to all his subjects (the "hundred surnames" is a term representing all families or common people).

Bǎi xìng zhāo míng, hé hé wàn guó.
The common people [became] enlightened, [and] harmoniously united ten thousand states.
Under Yao’s rule, the people were enlightened, and a harmonious unity prevailed across many regions.

The text continues to describe Yao's governance and his efforts to regulate time and seasons, manage natural resources, and his search for a suitable successor. Each part of the narrative reflects important aspects of ancient Chinese philosophy, governance, and cosmology.

If you'd like a detailed breakdown of the remaining text, or have specific questions about any part of it, feel free to ask!
please continue with another fragment of the text.

Certainly! Continuing with the next section of the text, which focuses on Emperor Yao’s governance, his efforts to regulate celestial bodies and the seasons, and his administration over different regions:

Nǎi mìng Xī, Hé, jìng shùn Hào Tiān,
Then ordered [the gods] Xī and Hé, respectfully to follow the High Heaven,
Emperor Yao commands Xī and Hé, two deities associated with the sun and moon, to respect and follow the ways of heaven. Hào Tiān refers to the overarching heavenly power or sky.

shù fǎ rì yuè xīng chén, jìng shòu mín shí.
to regulate the sun, moon, stars, and constellations, respectfully to teach the people [about] time.
He instructs them to regulate the heavenly bodies to help people understand and measure time.

Fēn mìng Xī Zhòng, jū Yù Yí, yuē Yáng Gǔ.
Assigned Xī Zhòng, to reside in Yù Yí, named Yáng Gǔ.
Xī Zhòng is tasked with a region named Yù Yí (possibly a reference to an eastern land), and the place is called Yáng Gǔ (Valley of the Sun).

Jìng dào rì chū, biàn chéng dōng zuò.
Respectfully observe the sunrise, [to] then arrange [work in the] east.
This line suggests that Xī Zhòng should observe the sunrise as a guide for activities in the east.

Rì zhōng, xīng niǎo, yǐ yīn zhōng chūn.
At noon, [the] Sun Bird, to signal the middle of spring.
The Sun Bird (probably a mythical or symbolic creature) indicates the peak of spring.

Qí mín xī, niǎo shòu zì wēi.
Its people are prudent, [and] birds and beasts are gentle.
This describes how the people and even animals in the region live in harmony.

Shēn mìng Xī Shū, jū Nán Jiāo.
Extended orders to Xī Shū, to reside in Nán Jiāo.
Xī Shū is assigned to a southern region called Nán Jiāo.

Biàn chéng nán wéi, jìng zhì.
[To] then arrange [work in the] south, respectfully.
This line indicates that Xī Shū should manage the southern region with respect and care.

Rì yǒng, xīng huǒ, yǐ zhèng zhōng xià.
[With] long days, [the] Fire Star, to signify midsummer.
Long days and the appearance of the Fire Star (possibly Mars or another astronomical reference) mark the height of summer.

Qí mín yīn, niǎo shòu xī gé.
Its people adapt, [and] birds and beasts rarely change.
The people and nature in this region adapt to the seasonal changes.

This section vividly illustrates the ancient Chinese understanding of astronomy, geography, and the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. It also reflects the importance of celestial observations in governing and time-keeping in ancient China.

If you'd like me to continue with the next part of the text or if you have any specific questions, please let me know!
Is there any background on why 羲、和 were ordered to 敬順昊天?

The order given to 羲 (Xī) and 和 (Hé) to 敬順昊天 (jìng shùn Hào Tiān, "respectfully follow the High Heaven") in the story of 帝堯 (Dì Yáo, Emperor Yao) reflects important aspects of ancient Chinese cosmology and religious beliefs.

    The Roles of 羲 (Xī) and 和 (Hé): In Chinese mythology, these two figures are often associated with the sun and the moon. Xī is sometimes considered the sun deity, while Hé is related to the moon. Their roles in this story are connected to the observation and regulation of celestial bodies.

    昊天 (Hào Tiān) - The High Heaven: This term refers to the overarching heavenly power or the sky in ancient Chinese belief. It is often synonymous with the highest deity or the ultimate cosmic authority. In early Chinese religion, the sky or heaven was revered as the supreme power that governed the natural order and the fate of humans.

    Ancient Chinese Cosmology: The ancient Chinese viewed the cosmos as an interconnected and hierarchical structure where the mandate or will of heaven (天命, Tiānmìng) played a crucial role. The emperor or ruler was seen as the Son of Heaven (天子, Tiānzǐ), whose duty was to maintain harmony between heaven, earth, and humanity. This involved aligning human activities with the natural order and celestial patterns.

    敬順 (jìng shùn) - Respectful Obedience: The instruction for Xī and Hé to follow the High Heaven "respectfully" is indicative of the ancient Chinese belief in the importance of aligning human affairs with the will of heaven. This obedience was thought to ensure harmony and order in the world.

In the context of the story of Emperor Yao, the command to Xī and Hé to follow the High Heaven is likely symbolic of Yao’s efforts to bring order and harmony to his realm by aligning his governance with the natural order of the universe, as dictated by heavenly patterns. This concept was central to ancient Chinese philosophy and governance, where astronomical observations were crucial for calendar making, agriculture, and ritual ceremonies. Emperor Yao's actions in this regard exemplify the ideal ruler's duty to maintain balance and harmony in accordance with heavenly principles.
Proceed to the next fragment of the story. In the explanations you can bring elements from other sources, based on general knowledge of Chinese history, mythology, and traditional understanding of the classics to fill in the gaps.

Continuing with the next fragment of the text, which further details Emperor Yao’s governance and his management of various territories:

Shēn mìng Hé Zhòng, jū Xī Tǔ, yuē Mèi Gǔ.
Extended orders to Hé Zhòng, to reside in the Western Lands, named Mèi Gǔ.
Hé Zhòng is assigned to the Western Lands, named Mèi Gǔ (possibly "Dark Valley," a term reflecting the less sunny nature of the west compared to the east).

Jìng dào rì rù, biàn chéng xī chéng.
Respectfully observe the sunset, [to] then arrange [work in the] west properly.
This line indicates that Hé Zhòng should observe the sunset to guide activities in the west, emphasizing the importance of aligning human actions with natural phenomena.

Yè zhōng, xīng xū, yǐ zhèng zhōng qiū.
At midnight, [the] Void Star, to signify mid-autumn.
The appearance of the Void Star (possibly a reference to a specific constellation) marks the middle of autumn.

Qí mín yí yì, niǎo shòu máo xiǎn.
Its people [are] simple and easygoing, [and] birds and beasts [have] thick fur.
Describes the character of the people and wildlife in the Western Lands, with an emphasis on simplicity and adaptation to a cooler climate.

Shēn mìng Hé Shū, jū Běi Fāng, yuē Yōu Dū.
Extended orders to Hé Shū, to reside in the Northern Region, named Yōu Dū.
Hé Shū is assigned to the Northern Region, called Yōu Dū ("Dark Capital" or "Remote Capital").

Biàn zài fú wù.
[To] then arrange hidden things.
This cryptic line might suggest managing things that are hidden or latent, possibly referring to underground resources or activities suited for colder, darker environments.

Rì duǎn, xīng Mǎo, yǐ zhèng zhōng dōng.
[With] short days, [the] Pleiades Star, to signify midwinter.
Short days and the appearance of the Pleiades (Mǎo) constellation mark the middle of winter.

Qí mín yù, niǎo shòu rǒng máo.
Its people [are] sturdy, [and] birds and beasts [have] soft fur.
This describes the hardiness of the people and the adaptation of wildlife to the cold northern climate.

Suì sān bǎi liù shí liù rì, yǐ rùn yuè zhèng sì shí.
[The] year [has] three hundred sixty-six days, [with] an intercalary month to correct the four seasons.
This line reflects the ancient Chinese lunar calendar's method of aligning with the solar year by adding an extra month.

Xìn chì bǎi guān, zhòng gōng jiē xīng.
[With] trust [he] arranged the hundred officials, [and] all works [were] prosperously carried out.
Emperor Yao is depicted as a wise ruler who effectively organized his administration, leading to flourishing public works.

This section of the text shows the comprehensive governance system under Emperor Yao, emphasizing the harmony between human activities and natural phenomena. It reflects the ancient Chinese belief in the necessity of aligning human affairs with celestial movements and the seasons, a concept deeply rooted in Daoist and Confucian thought. The descriptions of different regions also indicate an advanced understanding of geography and the diverse characteristics of China's vast territories.

If you'd like me to continue or focus on specific aspects, please let me know!
Proceed to a next fragment. There is no need to include gramatical words in brackets. Use brackets only if a content word is ommited.

Continuing with the next fragment of the story from 史記 (Shǐjì, "Records of the Grand Historian") about 帝堯 (Dì Yáo, Emperor Yao):

Yáo yuē: “Shéi kě shùn cǐ shì?”
Yao said: “Who can [properly] manage these affairs?”

Fàng Qí yuē: “Sì zǐ Dān Zhū kāi míng.”
Fang Qi said: “Your successor, Dan Zhu, is clear and bright.”

Yáo yuē: “Ah! Obstinate and fierce, [he] cannot be used.”

Yáo yòu yuē: “Shéi kě zhě?”
Yao again said: “Who else is suitable?”

Huān Dōu yuē: “Gòng Gōng páng jù bù gōng, kě yòng.”
Huan Dou said: “Gong Gong has amassed great achievements nearby, [he] can be used.”

Yáo yuē: “Gong Gong speaks well, but his methods are deviant, [seemingly] respectful but [actually] excessive, [he] cannot [be used].”

Yáo yòu yuē: “Alas! Four Mountains: The torrential flood reaches the sky, vast and vast engulfing mountains and hills, the people below suffer, is there [someone] capable of controlling [it]?”

Jiē yuē Gǔn kě.
All said: “Gun is capable.”

Yáo yuē: “Gun has disobeyed orders and destroyed [his] clan, [he] cannot [be used].”

Yuè yuē: “Strange indeed, try [him] if [he] cannot be used, [then] that’s it.”

Yáo yú shì tīng Yuè yòng Gǔn.
Yao then heeded the Mountains’ advice and used Gun.

Jiǔ zǎi, gōng yòng bù chéng.
[Nine] years passed, [his] efforts did not succeed.

This segment of the story reflects Emperor Yao's challenges in finding a suitable successor and administrator to handle a great flood, a central theme in ancient Chinese mythology. Yao's reluctance to appoint his own son, Dan Zhu, and Gong Gong shows his wisdom and commitment to meritocracy rather than nepotism or favoritism. The mention of Gun and the great flood introduces one of the most significant myths in Chinese culture, often associated with themes of moral responsibility and the importance of effective governance. The four mountains (四嶽, Sì Yuè) represent high-ranking nobles or regional lords offering counsel to the emperor. The failure of Gun to control the floods sets the stage for the eventual rise of Yu the Great, another pivotal figure in Chinese mythology known for successfully managing the flood.

If you'd like to continue with the story or have questions about specific elements, please let me know!
Explain who are the characters mentioned in this passage.

The passage from 史記 (Shǐjì, "Records of the Grand Historian") about 帝堯 (Dì Yáo, Emperor Yao) features several notable characters from ancient Chinese mythology and history. Here's a brief overview of each:

    帝堯 (Dì Yáo, Emperor Yao): A legendary Chinese ruler, Yao is often celebrated as a model of virtue and effective governance. His reign is considered a golden age of harmony and prosperity. In Chinese mythology and historical narratives, Yao is known for his wisdom, benevolence, and concern for the people.

    放齊 (Fàng Qí): This character is less well-known in Chinese history. In the context of this story, he appears to be an advisor or court official who suggests Emperor Yao's son, Dan Zhu, as a potential successor.

    嗣子丹朱 (Sì zǐ Dān Zhū, Dan Zhu): He is mentioned as the son of Emperor Yao. Despite being his heir, Yao deems him unfit for rulership, highlighting Yao's commitment to meritocratic principles over nepotism.

    讙兜 (Huān Dōu): Like Fang Qi, Huan Dou seems to be another court official or advisor. He suggests Gong Gong for the task of managing the floods, but his proposal is rejected by Yao.

    共工 (Gòng Gōng): Gong Gong is a prominent figure in Chinese mythology, often depicted as a water god or deity associated with floods. He is known for his role in various myths, including a story where his fight with another deity caused massive flooding. His character is often associated with rebellion and chaos.

    鯀 (Gǔn): Gun is a key figure in the mythological narrative of the Great Flood during the reign of Yao. He is tasked with controlling the floods but ultimately fails. Gun is traditionally portrayed as the father of 大禹 (Dà Yǔ, Yu the Great), who eventually succeeded where Gun failed.

    四嶽 (Sì Yuè, Four Mountains): These are not individual characters but rather represent the collective voice of high-ranking nobles or regional lords. They offer counsel to Emperor Yao, suggesting Gun to manage the flood. In Chinese mythology and history, mountains often have spiritual significance and are sometimes personified or seen as sources of wisdom.

Each of these characters plays a role in illustrating the challenges faced by Emperor Yao and the importance of wise and moral leadership in ancient Chinese philosophy and mythology. Their interactions and decisions reflect the values and beliefs of the time, particularly regarding governance, virtue, and the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Ok, next passage.

Continuing with the story from 史記 (Shǐjì, "Records of the Grand Historian") about 帝堯 (Dì Yáo, Emperor Yao):

Yú shì Yáo Shùn xiāng yǔ yú Cāng Wú zhī yě.
Then, Yao and Shun spoke together in the fields of Cang Wu.

Yáo yuē: “Ai! Sì Yuè, ěr hé yǐ zhì tiānxià?”
Yao said: “Alas! Four Mountains, how would you govern the world?”

Sì Yuè duì yuē: “Wéi shī yú mín, wéi xù fá qióng.”
The Four Mountains replied: “Only to bestow upon the people, only to care for the poor and needy.”

Yáo yuē: “Ěr ān zhī qí mín zhī xiánxiá yǔ?”
Yao said: “How do you know of the leisure and spare time of the people?”

Sì Yuè duì yuē: “Chūn zhǒng yī lì sù, qiū shōu wàn dān shí.”
The Four Mountains replied: “Plant one grain of millet in spring, harvest ten thousand in autumn.”

Yáo yuē: “Ai! Shùn, ěr shì yǔ chǔ zhī.”
Yao said: “Alas! Shun, you try and deal with it.”

Shùn yuē: “Xi! Yú hé gǎn dāng!”
Shun said: “Haha! How dare I undertake [it]!”

Explanation of Characters and Terms:

    蒼梧之野 (Cāng Wú zhī yě): This refers to a location, the fields of Cang Wu, which is a place in ancient China. The term "蒼梧" (Cāng Wú) literally means "dark green forest" or "lush forest," indicating a natural, possibly remote setting for this important conversation.

    治天下 (zhì tiānxià): This phrase means "to govern the world" or "to manage the affairs of the world," reflecting the scope and responsibility of the emperor's duty.

    唯施於民,惟恤乏窮 (Wéi shī yú mín, wéi xù fá qióng): This is a philosophy of governance focusing on providing for the people and caring for the poor and needy. It reflects a core principle of benevolent leadership in Chinese philosophy.

    閒暇 (xiánxiá): This term refers to leisure and spare time, indicating concern for the well-being and work-life balance of the people.

    春種一粒粟,秋收萬箪食 (Chūn zhǒng yī lì sù, qiū shōu wàn dān shí): This proverb-like statement means "plant one grain of millet in spring, reap ten thousand in autumn." It's an expression of agricultural productivity and prosperity.

    舜 (Shùn): Another legendary sage-king, Shun is often paired with Yao as a model of virtue and effective governance. He is known for his humility, wisdom, and dedication to the welfare of the people.

This passage illustrates a significant moment where Emperor Yao is testing or considering Shun as a potential successor. The emphasis on agriculture, concern for the people’s welfare, and effective governance reflects the values of ancient Chinese rulership. The conversation between Yao, Shun, and the Four Mountains symbolizes the transfer of wisdom and the search for a capable leader.
What/who is 四嶽?

In ancient Chinese texts, including the 史記 (Shǐjì, "Records of the Grand Historian"), the term 四嶽 (Sì Yuè, "Four Mountains" or "Four Peaks") refers to a group of four prominent mountains that were believed to mark the boundaries of China and were of great geographical and spiritual significance. Each of these mountains was associated with a particular direction: north, south, east, and west.

In a broader and more symbolic sense, the 四嶽 also represented high-ranking nobles or regional rulers/lords who were in charge of vast territories in ancient China. They played crucial roles in governance and were often regarded as intermediaries between the heavens and the human world, tasked with maintaining order and harmony within their respective domains.

In the context of the story of Emperor Yao, the 四嶽 are likely mentioned to symbolize these influential regional leaders who were consulted by the emperor on matters of state and governance. The conversation between Yao and the 四嶽 demonstrates the collaborative nature of ancient Chinese rulership, where the emperor sought wisdom and advice from these powerful and respected figures in order to govern effectively and ensure the welfare of the people. This reflects the importance of collective wisdom and the role of regional authorities in ancient Chinese political thought.





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