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Milburn, Olivia A.R. (2003) History and fiction: Tales of the hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period from c. 300 BC to AD 220. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis focusses on historical and fictional accounts of the hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period: Lord Huan of Qi, Lord Wen of Jin, Lord Mu of Qin, King Zhuang of Chu, King Helii of Wu and King Goujian of Yue. Chapter One describes the methodological basis. Many ancient Chinese texts underwent periods of oral transmission, but the effect on their form and content has been little researched. Theme and formula are important for understanding the development of these texts. The hegemons are also investigated for the degree to which they conform to greater patterns: the Indo-European models of the hero and good ruler. In Chapters Two and Three selected tales about the hegemons are considered. Some were chosen because the same story appeared in a large number of texts over many centuries, in the works of widely differing philosophers and historians. This shows the diffusion and popularity of these tales, and the way that the same story appealed to thinkers of very different persuasions. Others were chosen for the range of literary forms in which they appear. Some show the use of theme and formula with particular clarity, and others the way in which a story was adapted to bring it closer to the models of the hero or good king. In Chapter Four analysis of stories about the hegemons is expanded to cover the full range of tales appearing before the end of the Han dynasty, to demonstrate the degree to which they conform to the stereotypes of the hero and the good king. Chapter Five compares the hegemons to other rulers of their day, and considers their enduring literary legacy. Throughout the imperial period, the hegemons inspired prose, poetry and drama. Apart from their importance as historical figures, the hegemons have an important place in Chinese literary history.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:09

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