Sima Qia And Greece: A Comparative Analysis

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The independent development of history as a record of the past, a method for self-definition, and a means for virtue politics was invented by two historians from two sharply different cultures: Sima Qian from China and Herodotus from Greece. Interestingly, they are both interested in frontier regions, the local people there, and their customs. Through their discussions of the Chinese/non-Chinese, Greeks/non-Greeks, we can acquire some insights into ancient history. There are two things that Sima Qian’s Shiji and Herodotus’s histories have in common: a strong interest in frontier regions and foreign people and a great amount of knowledge about them; also, an attempt to understand “others” by understanding the the context of their culture and…show more content…
Sima Qian’s account of the Da Yuan serves for imperialism. For he claims that The Han has attempted to understand Da Yuan’s strength and weakness to better defense itself and launch an attack at some time (Watson Han II, 232). In Sima Qian’s detailed description of Da Yuan’s economic and military development, there are some typical negative claims about the nomads. For example, he wrote: they move about, have no walled cities or fixed houses, nor do they engage in any agriculture, they have no writing (Watson Han II, 239). However, Sima Qian holds quite a positive view on the nomads’ military foundation. He observes that they are very skillful at using decoy troops to lure their opponents to destruction (Watson Han II, 242), but he quickly goes back to seeing the nomads as exotic when he discusses their battle tactics. Similar to Herodotus’s remarks on the Scythians, Sima Qian describes that the Da Yuan goes on expeditions when they are faring well but don’t find it problematic to attack when they are not faring well. He makes the point that they only concern with self-advantage but know nothing of virtue and sense of righteousness. The historian’s account shifts between a disapproval of their “non-Chinese” styles and an objective appraisal, or even an admiration of their military
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