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Eicher, Sebastian (13. February 2018): Early representations of filial piety in dynastic historiography. Textual history and content of Hou Han Shu chapter 39. In: Journal of Chinese History - 中國歷史學刊, Vol. 3, No. 1: pp. 1-33 [PDF, 618kB]


Tales of filial piety became a standard element of the annals-biography style of historiography early on. Starting from the Song shu 宋書, almost every dynastic history contains a chapter that is devoted to filial men. An early—but often neglected—precursor is Chapter 39 of Fan Ye's 范曄 (398–446) Hou Han shu 後漢書. Inspired by his predecessor Hua Qiao 華嶠 (?–293), Fan inserted a chapter on filial men. The chapter was therefore compiled in times when the recommendation system of the Han and especially the recommendation as “filial and incorruptible” (xiaolian 孝廉) had lost influence. This paper tries to shed some light on its origins, form, and content, and attempts to distinguish the most common motives that were used to describe filial (xiao 孝) behavior in this early stage of its historiographical representation.

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