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4.2 Boji of Duke Gong of Song

After Boji had been married to Duke Gong of Song (r. 587-574 B.C.) for ten years, the duke died and Boji became a widow.1 Later, during the reign of Duke Jing (515-451 B.C.), Boji's dwelling caught fire one night.2 People called to her saying, "Fire! Madam! Flee!"

Boji said, "The correct conduct for a married woman dictates that until the governess and instructress have arrived, she must not leave the house at night. I will wait until the governess and instructress come."

When the governess arrived the instructress had not yet come. People called out to her once again, saying, "Fire! Madam, Flee!"

Boji said, "The correct conduct for a married woman dictates that if the instructress is not in attendance, she must not leave the house at night. To die preserving one's principles is better than transgressing the rules to stay alive." When the fire reached her, she died.

Notes

1. The Chunqiu records this marriage as occurring in 582 B.C, in the second month of the ninth year of Duke Cheng of Lu's reign (590-572 B.C.). See Chunqiu Zuo zhuan, in Ruan Yuan, complier, Shisanjing zhushu, (hereafter abbreviated as SSJZS) 2 vols. (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1980), vol. 2, juan 26, p. 203B. Boji was the eldest daughter of Duke Xuan (r. 597-591 B.C.) of Lu 魯宣公. The biography of her mother, Mu Jiang 穆姜, appears as the eighth biography of the "Depraved Favorites" chapter of the Lienü zhuan.

2. The text incorrectly dates the fire to the reign of Duke Jing (r. 515-451 B.C.). According to the Spring and Autumn Annals, it occurred in 543 B.C. during the reign of Boji's son, Duke Ping 宋平公 (r. 574-529). See Chunqiu Zuo zhuan, SSJZS, vol. 2, juan 40, p. 390B (Xiang, year 30).

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