<Previous Section>
Notes <Next Section>

卷六之十五 齊 太 倉 女

齊 太 倉 女 者 , 漢 太 倉 令 淳 于 公 之 少 女 也 , 名 緹 縈 。 淳 于 公 無 男 , 有 女 五 人 。 孝 文 皇 帝 時 , 淳 于 公 有 罪 當 刑 。 是 時 肉 刑 尚 在 , 詔 獄 繫 長 安 , 當 行 會 逮 , 公 罵 其 女 曰 : 「 生 子 不 生 男 , [有]緩 急 非 有 益[也] 。 」 緹 縈 自 悲 泣 , 而 隨 其 父 至 長 安 , 上 書 曰 :

「 妾 父 為 吏 , 齊 中 皆 稱[其] 廉 平 , [今] 坐 法 當 刑 。 妾 傷 夫 死 者 不 可 復 生 , 刑 者 不 可 復 屬 , 雖[復] 欲 改 過 自 新 , 其 道 無 由 也 。 妾 願 入 身 為 官 婢 , 以 贖 父 罪 , 使 得 自 新 。 」

書 奏 , 天 子 憐 悲 其 意 , 乃 下 詔 曰 :

「 蓋 聞 有 虞 之 時 , 畫 衣 冠 ,異 章 服 , 以 為 戮 , 而 民 不 犯 , 何[則]﹖ 其 至 治 也 ﹗ 令 法 有 肉 刑 五 , 而 姦 不 止 , 其 咎 安 在 ? 非 朕 德 薄 而 教 之 不 明 歟 ? 吾 甚 自 媿 。 [故] 夫 訓 道 不 純 , 而 愚 民 陷 焉 。 詩 云 : 『 愷 悌 君 子 , 民 之 父 母 。 』 今 人 有 過 , 教 未 施 , 而 刑 已 加 焉 。 或 欲 改 行 為 善 , 而 其 道 毋 繇 。 朕 甚 憐 之 。 夫 刑 者 至 斷 支 體 , 刻 肌 膚 , 終 身 不 息 , 何 其[楚] 痛 而 不 德 也 ! 豈 稱 為 民 父 母 之 意 哉 ! 其 除 肉 刑 。」

自 是 之 後 , 鑿 顛 者 髡 , 抽 脅 者 笞 , 刖 足 者 鉗 。 淳 于 公 遂 得 免 焉 。

君 子 謂 緹 縈 一 言 發 聖 主 之 意 , 可 謂 得 事 之 宜 矣 。

詩 云 : 「 辭 之 懌 矣 , 民 之 莫 矣 。 」 此 之 謂 也 。

頌 曰 : 緹 縈 訟 父 , 亦 孔 有 識 , 推 誠 上 書 , 文 雅 甚 優 ,小 女 之 言 , 乃 感 聖 意 , 終 除 肉 刑 , 以 免 父 事 。

6.15 Daughter of the Chief of the Treasury of Qi

The "Daughter of the Director of the Great Granary of Qi," whose given name was Tiying, was the youngest daughter of the Great Granary Director Lord Chunyu (ca. 216-150 B.C.) of the Han dynasty. Lord Chunyu had no sons but five daughters. During the reign of Emperor Wen the Filial (180-157 B.C.) Lord Chunyu was convicted of a crime and faced punishment. At this time the government still used corporal punishment. An imperial edict ordered judicial [officials] to detain Chunyu in Chang'an1. On the way to Chang'an, Chunyu cursed his daughters saying, "I have children but no sons. In times of trouble they are utterly useless!" Tiying, for her part, wept bitterly and followed her father to Chang’an. She memorialized the emperor, saying,

While your handmaiden’s father served as an official, all the people of Qi praised him as upright and just. But now he has been tried in a court of law and faces punishment. I grieve that the dead will have no chance to live again and that those who undergo a mutilating punishment cannot be made whole again. And even if they desire to reform and begin again, they would have no way to do so. Please allow me to enter service as a government slave to pay for my father's crime and to allow him to make a new beginning.2

The memorial was submitted to the Son of Heaven, who, moved by her plea, issued the following edict:

I have heard that in the time of Youyu [i.e., Shun], he used insignia on robes and hats and other kinds of markings on clothing as a form of punishment and the people committed no crimes. Great indeed was his rule! Nowadays, however, the law prescribes the five forms of mutilating punishments, yet wrongdoing does not cease. Wherein lays the fault? It is due to my deficient virtue and failure to teach the people intelligently, for which I feel deeply ashamed. When instruction is corrupt, the ignorant masses fall into crime. The Odes says, “Our kind and courteous ruler,/He is father and mother to his people.”3 Nowadays, when a person has committed some fault, no instruction is proffered he is already facing punishment for it. If someone wants to reform and do good, his way is obstructed. I pity such people greatly! Now, when punishments extend to severing limbs or cutting flesh, the victims must suffer an entire life time. How utterly painful and injudicious! How indeed can I be called the father and mother of the people? Let the corporal punishments be abolished!”

After this incident, those who had previously been punished by drilling into the skull had their heads shaved instead, those who had been punished by having their ribs extracted were now caned, and those who had suffered having their feet cut off were now shackled. Lord Chunyu was therefore spared from this fate.

The Gentleman says: Tiying with one word inspired the sage intentions of her ruler and brought a fitting conclusion to this affair.

As the Odes says, “If your words were gentle and kind,/The people would be settled.”4

The Appraisal says, “Tiying pleaded her father’s case with great wisdom. She drew upon her convictions and submitted a memorial that was both eloquent and concise. Though they were the words of a mere girl, she inspired her sovereign to abolish corporal punishments and to save her father


1. On the term ji "detain," see Hulsewe, Remnants of Han Law, p. 74.

2. This case occurred in 167 B.C. Tiying's memorial, in various versions, is cited in the "Treatise on Punishments and Laws" (Xingfa zhi), in Hanshu 23, pp. 1098-1100, and translated in Hulsewe, Remnants of Han Law, pp. 334-335. The abrogation of punishments by mutilation is also mentioned in Shiji 10, p. ?, 105, p. ?; Hanshu4, p. ? For speculation the legal process connected with Tiying's memorial, see Osamu, Oba, "The Ordinances on Fords and Passes Excavated from Han Tomb Number 247, Zhangjiashan," in Asia Major, Third Series, Volume 14, part 2, (2001): 119-141. A note in the Wenxuan suggests that Tiying also sang two odes?

3. Mao no. 251; translation based on Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, p. 489.

4. Mao no. 254; translation based on Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, p. 500.

<Previous Section>
Notes <Next Section>
IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia