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Persons in Chinese History - Chen Lin 陳琳

Periods of Chinese History
Chen Lin 陳琳 (d. 217), courtesy name Kongzhang 孔璋, was was a writer of the late Eastern Han period 東漢 (25-220 CE) and one of the Seven Masters of the Jian'an reign period 建安七子. His home town was Sheyang 射陽 in the commandery of Guangling 廣陵 (today Huai'an 淮安, Jiangsu), but of his younger years nothing is known. He was recorder (zhubu 主簿) of General-in-chief (da jiangjun 大將軍) He Jin 何進 and argued against He's plot against the eunuch clique. When the tyrant Dong Zhuo 董卓 devastated the capital Luoyang 洛陽, Chen Lin fled to the province of Jizhou 冀州 (approx. modern Shanxi) and became a servant of Yuan Shao 袁紹, who appointed him clerk for drafting documents. During that time he wrote the famous declaration Wei Yuan Shao xi Yuzhou wen 為袁紹檄豫州文, in which he listed the crimes of the warlord Cao Cao 曹操 and his forefathers. During the famous battle of Guandu 官渡 in 200 between Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, Chen Lin was captured by the victorious Cao, and the latter offered to take him into his service. Chen accepted and was made counsellor of the army supervisor under the Minister of Works (sikong junshi jijiu 司空軍師祭酒), a post in which he got to know Ruan Yu 阮瑀, another one of the Seven Masters. Later on he was headquarter supervisor of the Counsellor-in-chief (chengxiang menxia du 丞相門下督). Died in 217 during an epidemic haunting the capital city.
Chen Lin's poems, like Yin ma changcheng ku xiang 飲馬長城窟行, stand in the tradition of the Han period music bureau poems (yuefu 樂府), and describe the sufferings of the common people in a time of hardship. His style of prose essays, seen for instance in the letter Wei Cao Hong yu shizi shu 為曹洪與世子書, is described as heroic, the character of his words and their spirit called a vigorous one. Cao Pi 曹丕 (Emperor Wen 魏文帝, r. 220-226, of the Wei dynasty 曹魏, 220-265) therefore admired Chen Lin's writings. The rhapsody Wujun fu 武軍賦 describes Yuan Shao's victory over the local potentate Gongsun Zan 公孫瓚 in the northwest, the Shenwu fu 神武賦 that of Cao Cao over the northern steppe federation of the Wuhuan 烏桓. Of all the seven masters, he was probably most engaged in the literary support of the masters he served.
Chen Lin's originally 10-juan long collected writings are lost, but the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Zhang Pu 張溥 assembled fragments and reconstructed the Chen Jishi ji 陳記室集, which is included in the collectaneum Han Wei Liuchao baisan jia ji 漢魏六朝百三家集.


Source: Xu Gongchi 徐公持 (1986), "Chen Lin 陳琳", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo wenxue 中國文學 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chuabanshe), Vol. 1, p. 73.

June 8, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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