Sima Qian

(c. 145 BC - c. 87 BC)

The son of a Han dynasty grand historian, Sima Qian followed in his father’s footsteps and entered public service in 111 BC. His Shiji, an official history of the Han dynasty, includes such detailed prose that some believed Murasaki Shikibu later modeled her Tale of Genji on the work. In his later years he fell out of the emperor’s favor; for the crime of offending the monarch he was castrated before being allowed to return to court. 

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Put national causes first and personal grudges last.

—Sima Qian, c. 91 BC

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