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The Troops of Yu and Jin Destroyed Xia-yang City

(A historical event in 658 BCE)

Gu-liang's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals 1

    Xia-yang City is the capital of the State of Guo. The title reflects the importance of Xia-yang City by emphasizing "Xia-yang City" instead of "the State of Guo". The State of Yu did not send any troops to destroy Guo, so why does the title say "Yu's troops destroyed Xia-yang?" Since Yu let the troops of the State of Jin pass through their territory, it is as though Yu sent their own troops to destroy Guo. Why did the State of Yu let Jin's troops pass through their territory? This was because the King of Yu wanted to be able to show the King of Jin that Yu took an active role in the destruction of Xia-yang City. Xia-yang City was a fortress city located on the border of Yu and Guo. Once the King of Jin conquered Xia-yang City, both Guo and Yu became vulnerable.

    Why did the King of Yu want to show that he played an active role in the destruction of the State of Guo? The King of Jin planed to attack Guo. His official Xi Xun said, "Why don't you utilize Qu City's famous horses and Chui-ji City's gemstone to ask the King of Yu's permission to pass through their territory?" King Xian-gong said, "The horses and gemstone are the treasures of Jin. If the King of Yu accepts our gifts but won't allow us to pass through Yu's territory, then what would we do?" Xi Xun said, "There is a rule that a small country serving a large country must follow. According to the rule, if the King of Yu refuses our passing through Yus territory, he dare not accept our gifts. If he accepts our gifts and allows us to pass through their territory, then it is as if we simply take the gemstone from the bedroom to the living room, and move the great horses from the inner stable to the outer stable."

    King Xian-gong of Jin said, "Zi-qi Gong is in Yu's court. He will advise the King of Yu not to accept our gifts." Xi Xun said, "Zi-qi Gong is clever, cowardly, and was raised in the palace. Because he is clever, he at times leaves out details. The omission causes the average person to have difficulty understanding him. Because he lacks courage, he dare not trouble the King of Yu. In addition, he has grown up in the palace, so the King of Yu pays no attention to him. Furthermore, it is easy to be swayed by gifts presented in front of ones eyes, but it is difficult to foresee Yu's collapse led by the destruction of the State of Guo. Greater wisdom is required to anticipate such a disaster. I believe that the King of Yu lacks this wisdom." Consequently, the King of Jin asked for and received permission to pass through Yus territory, and then attacked the State of Guo.

    Zi-qi Gong advised the King of Yu, "The messenger of Jin's words is humble and his gifts are priceless. I suspect that the King of Jin is using his gifts to hide his ill will towards Yu." However, the King of Yu ignored Gong's advice, accepted the gifts, and told the messenger to relay his permission to let Jin's troops pass through Yus territory. Gong warned the king again, "It is said that the teeth will suffer cold if the lips are removed. Doesn't this saying best describe the relationship between Guo and Yu?" Then Gong quickly moved his family to the State of Cao and took shelter there.

    Later, King Xian-gong of Jin crushed the troops of the State of Guo. In 690 BCE, he destroyed the State of Yu. Official Xi Xun brought the original gemstone and horses back to King Xian-gong and said, "The gemstone remains the same; only the teeth of the horses have grown a bit."

Notes

1 Chi Gu-liang was a student of Zi-xia , a former disciple of Confucius. The body of knowledge found in Gu-liang's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals came from the lectures of Gu-liang. The book was written by his students on bamboo tablets bound with silk strings. Gu-liangs Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals (ca. 220 BCE) was published about two centuries after Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals (ca. 400 BCE).
    To tighten his tyrannical control, the Emperor of Qin killed scholars and burned books. Thus many parts of Gu-liang's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals were left fragmented. Not until the reigns of Emperors Jing-di and Wu-di in the Han dynasty did scholars start to revise the book and pass it down to later generations.