Sun Sheng (Jin dynasty)

Sun Sheng (ca. 302–373[1]), courtesy name Anguo, was a Jin dynasty historian. He was a native of Pingyao County, Jinzhong, Shanxi. He was described to be very studious, and was never seen without holding a book in his hand from his youth to his old age.[2]

Sun Sheng
Traditional Chinese孫盛
Simplified Chinese孙盛
Anguo (courtesy name)
Traditional Chinese安國
Simplified Chinese安国


Sun Sheng's father Sun Xun (孫恂) was Grand Administrator of Yingchuan (潁川), in present-day Henan and Anhui. He was killed by bandits when Sun Sheng was nine, and the rest of the family fled to safety across the Yangtze River.[3]

In his young adulthood, Sun Sheng achieved fame as a serious scholar of the I Ching, composing an essay which some of the leading luminaries of the time, including Yin Hao, Wang Meng, and Xie Shang[4] were unable to debate with him. Parts of the essay, "The Symbols of the Book of Changes are More Subtle than the Visible Shapes of Nature", survive and have been translated by Richard B. Mather.[5][6]

After entering politics, Sun Sheng served under Tao Kan, Yu Liang, and Huan Wen, accompanying the latter into Sichuan. On campaign, Huan Wen had taken his infantry to attack, and Sun Sheng was in charge of the weak, the elderly, and the baggage train, when they were suddenly set upon by thousands of bandits. The rearguard managed to rise to the occasion and drive them away.[7] Huan Wen appointed Sun Sheng Marquis of Anhuai, in present-day Pingnan County, Guangxi, and he was attached to Huan Wen's household as a travelling secretary.

Following Huan Wen's first two northern campaigns, Sun Sheng was enfeoffed as Marquis of Wuchang (in present-day Pingjiang County, Hunan), and appointed Grand Administrator of Changsha. The poverty of his family drove him to engage secretly in trade; but although this breach of etiquette was discovered, he was not impeached, because of the great esteem in which he was held.[8] He left Huan Wen's service under strained conditions, and ended his life in the position of Supervising Censor.


Sun Sheng wrote the Wei Shi Chunqiu (魏氏春秋; Chronicles of the Clans of Wei) and Jin Yangqiu (晉陽秋; Annals of Jin). A number of other works quoted by Pei Songzhi in his annotation of Records of the Three Kingdoms are attributed to Sun Sheng, including Yitong Zaji (異同雜記; Miscellaneous Records of Similarities and Differences), Shu Shi Pu (蜀世譜; Genealogy of Shu), and Wei Shiji (魏世籍; Records of the House of Wei). All of his works have been lost, and survive now only in quotations.

Titles and Appointments HeldEdit

  • Adjutant (參軍事)
  • Marquess of Anhuai County (安懷縣侯)
  • Marquess of Wuchang County (吳昌縣侯)
  • Grand Administrator of Changsha (長沙太守)
  • Supervising Censor (秘書監)


  • Great-great-grandfather: Sun Zi (d 251)
  • Great-grandfather: Sun Hong (孫宏)
  • Grandfather: Sun Chu (孫楚) (d 293)
  • Father: Sun Xun (孫恂) (d 311)
  • Children:
    • Sun Qian (孫潛)
    • Sun Fang (孫放)


  1. ^ Knechtges (2006) gives 302–372 (p 11), but Sun Sheng's biography in the Book of Jin specifies he died at the age of 72 sui (p 2148)
  2. ^ Fang Xuanling, et al., ed., Book of Jin, chapter 82, p 2148
  3. ^ Book of Jin, chapter 82, p 2147
  4. ^ Mather (1964) gives Xie An (p 370); Cheng Yanzhen (程炎震), disputes that by the time Xie An was present in Kuaiji, Sun Sheng would have been serving in Huan Wen's army (see 世說新語箋疏 4.56).
  5. ^ Liu Yiqing, ed., Shishuo Xinyu, chapter 4 no 56
  6. ^ Mather, Richard B. "Chinese Letters and Scholarship in the Third and Fourth Centuries", p 370; Mather, Richard, B., transl., Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World, chapter 4 no 56.
  7. ^ Book of Jin, chapter 82, p 2148
  8. ^ Book of Jin, chapter 82, p 2148


  • Liu Yiqing (劉義慶) (2008) [440s]. Yu Jiaxi (余嘉錫); Zhou Zuhan (周祖漢); Yu Shuyi (余淑宜) (eds.). 世說新語箋疏 [Annotated New Account of the Tales of the World]. Beijing: Zhonghua Publishing. ISBN 9787101056471.
  • Fang Xuanling; et al., eds. (1974) [648]. 晉書 [Book of Jin]. Beijing: Zhonghua Publishing.
  • Giles, Herbert Allen (1898). A Chinese Biographical Dictionary. pp. 693.
  • Mather, Richard B. (Oct–Dec 1964). "Chinese Letters and Scholarship in the Third and Fourth Centuries: The Wen-Hsüeh P'ien of the Shih-Shuo-Hsin-Yü". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 84 (4): 348–391. doi:10.2307/596774. JSTOR 596774.
  • Mather, Richard B. (1976). Shih-shuo Hsin-yü: A New Account of Tales of the World, by Liu I-ch'ing, with commentary by Liu Chün. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Knechtges, David R. (Dec 2006). "Liu Kun, Lu Chen, and Their Writings in the Transition to the Eastern Jin". Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews. 28: 1–66.