Searching Ancient Historical Texts for Lessons

The more attention one pays to how humans are managing the contemporary world, the clearer becomes the message that we need to learn from history.  Unfortunately, many of the lessons of history are buried in ancient texts that are inaccessible to most of us because they are written in someone else’s language.  Even if you read the language, the text may be either long (Sima Guang’s Comprehensive Mirror, of which more later, is ten 900-page volumes) or unavailable outside of a rare research library.  I hope in this blog will stimulate the sharing of information on ancient histories –

* which to read

* excerpts of note

* where to find translations

* where to purchase a rare copy.


I have a particular interest in Sima Guang’s Zizhi tongjian [Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government] and would like to invite comments on editions and translations that may be available. 

Rafe deCrespigny’s translation of chapters from the Later Han sections, so generously posted on the Net, is a wonderful entre into the world of Sima Qian.  Are there others – translations, glossaries?


I personally will focus on classical Chinese texts but invite others to broaden the scope.

 Two questions for readers to get things started:

1. Where might I find a copy of a modern Chinese version of Sima Qian’s history?  One was published a few years ago in Taiwan but appears to be out of print.

2. Moving away from the Chinese histories with which I have at least a bit of familiarity, does anyone have any recommendations on pre-modern Persian histories that might teach us something of value for our lives today…and be available in a European language?


2 comments on “Searching Ancient Historical Texts for Lessons

  1. Mr WordPress says:

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. Antibush says:

    Bush is forever saying that democracies do not invade other countries and start wars. Well, he did just that. He invaded Iraq, started a war, and killed people. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
    If ever there was ever a time in our nation’s history that called for a change, this is it!
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

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