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Persons in Chinese History - Ying Yang 應瑒

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Ying Yang 應瑒 (d. 217), courtesy name Delian 德璉, 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. He hailed from the commandery of Runan 汝南 (today's Xiangcheng 項城, Henan) and served the warlord Cao Cao 曹操 as a clerk of the Counsellor-in-chief (changxiang yuan 丞相掾), later as mentor (shuzi 庶子) of the Marquis of Pingyuan 平原侯 and court gentleman instructor for miscellaneous use (wuguanjiang wenxue 五官將文學).The literary critique Wenxin diaolong 文心雕龍 by Liu Xie 劉勰 writes that "his writings were inspired by his scholarship" (xue you yi de wen 學優以得文), but the remains of Ying Yang's texts demonstrate that his scholarship was rather expressed in method rather than in a kind of genius. Among the Seven Masters he would just occupy a mediocre position. A list of his writings, and of rhapsodies in particular, is impressively long, as shown by the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Zhang Pu 張溥, but only a small amount has survived. Among these, prose writings are more impressive, like the letter Bao Ying hui gong shu 報龐惠恭書, in which he expresses in an elegant way his thoughts to a befriended person. Quite outstanding is his short treatise Wenzhilun 文質論 "On words and substance". The title is the same as that of an essay by Ruan Yu 阮瑀, but while the latter was of the opinion that a ruler had to employ persons honest and sincere (dunpu 敦樸), but strong and direct (mujiang 木強), Ying Yang argued that such persons would be good enough to pacify the empire, to care for order and to adhere to the law, the duty of bringing peace to the minds would need rhetorics and the right words, and for that reason, men of the letters were more important than "men of [pure] substance". Ying's reasoning in this essay is very clear and shows his conviction to the importance of education and erudition.
The collected writings of Ying Yang had originally a size of 5 juan. The remainder is found in Zhang Pu's Ying Delian Ying Xiuliuan ji 應德璉應休璉集.


Source: Lin Fei 林非 (ed. 1997), Zhongguo sanwen da cidian 中國散文大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), p. 83.

June 8, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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