Three Character Classic
ging1 zi2 tung1, duk6 zyu1 si2, haau2 sai3 hai6, zi1 zung1 ci2
When the Classics and the Philosophers are mastered,
the various histories should be read,
and the genealogical connections should be examined,
so that the end of one dynasty and the beginning of the next may be known.
zi6 hei1 nung4, zi3 wong4 dai3, hou6 saam7 wong4, geoi1 soeng6 sai3
From Fu Xi and Shen Nong
on to the Yellow Emperor,
these are called the Three Rulers.
who lived in the early ages.
tong4 jau5 jyu4, hou6 ji6 dai3, soeng1 jap1 seon3, cing1 sing6 sai3
Tang and You-Yu
are called the two emperors.
They adbicated, one after the other,
and theirs was called the Golden Age.
haa6 jau5 jyu5, soeng1 jau5 tong1, zau1 man4 mou5, cing1 saam7 wong4
The Xia dynasty has Yu;
the Shang dynasty has Tang;
the Zhou dynasty had Wen and Wu;
these are called the Three Kings
haa6 cyun4 zi2, gaa1 tin1 haa6, sei3 baak3 zoi2, cin1 haa6 se5
Under the Xia dynasty the throne was transmitted from father to son,
making a family possession of the empire.
After four hundred years,
the Imperial sacrifice passed from the House of Xia.
tong1 fat6 haa6, gwok3 hou6 soeng1, luk6 baak3 zoi2, zi3 zau6 mong4
Tang the completer destroyed the Xia Dynasty,
and the dynastic title became Shang.
The line lasted for six hundred years,
ending with Zhou Xin.
zau1 mou5 wong4, ci2 zyu1 zau6, baat3 baak3 zoi2, zeoi3 coeng4 gau2
King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty
finally slew Zhou Xin.
His own line lasted for eight hundred years;
the longest dynasty of all.
zau1 cit3 dung1, wong4 gong1 do6, cing2 gon1 gwo1, soeng6 jau4 seoi3
When the Zhous made tracks eastwards,
the feudal bond was slackened;
the arbitrament of spear and shields prevailed;
and peripatetic politicians were held in high esteem.
ci2 ceon1 cau1, zung1 zin3 gwok3, ng5 baa3 koeng4, cat1 hung4 ceot1
This period began with the Spring and Autumn Epoch,
and ended with that of the Warring States.
Next, the Five Chieftains domineered,
and the Seven Martial States came to the front.
jing4 ceon4 si6, ci2 gim1 bing3, cyun4 ji6 sai3, co2 hon3 zang1
Then the House of Qin, descended from the Ying clan,
finally united all the states under one sway.
The thrown was transmitted to Er Shi,
upon which followed the struggle between the Chu and the Han States.
gou1 zou2 hing1, hon3 jip6 gin3, zi3 haau3 ping4, wong4 mong5 saan3
Then Gao Zu arose,
and the House of Han was established.
When we come to the reign of Xiao Ping,
Wang Mang usurped the throne.
gwong1 mou5 hing1, wai4 dung1 hon3, sei3 baak3 nin4, zung1 jyu1 hin3
Then Guang Wu arose,
and founded the Eastern Han dynasty.
It lasted four hundred years,
and ended with the Emperor Xian.
ngai6 suk6 ng4, zang1 hon3 ding2, hou6 saam1 gwok3, ngat6 loeng5 zeon3
Wei, Shu and Wu,
fought for the sovereignty of the Hans.
They were called the Three Kingdoms,
and existed until the Two Jin Dynasties.
sung3 cai4 gai3, loeng4 can4 sing4, wai4 naam4 ciu4, dou1 gam1 ling4
Then followed the Song and the Qi dynasties,
and after them the Liang and Chen dynasties.
These are the Southern dynasties,
with their capital at Nanjing.
bak1 jyun4 ngai6, fan1 dung1 sai1, jyu5 man4 zau1, hing1 gou1 cai4
The northern dynasties are the Wei dynasty of the Yuan family,
which split into Eastern and Western We,.
the Zhou dynasty of the Yuwen family,
with the Qi dynasty of the Gao family.
doi6 zi3 ceoi4, jat1 tou2 jyu5, bat1 zoi3 cyun4, sat1 tung2 seoi5
At length, under the Sui dynasty,
the empire was united under one ruler.
The throne was not transmitted twice,
succession to power being lost.
tong4 gou1 zou2, hei2 ji6 si1, ceoi4 ceoi4 lyun6, cong3 gwok3 gei1
The first emperor of the Tang dynasty
raised volunteer troops.
He put an end to the disorder of the House of Sui,
and established the foundations of his line.
ji6 sap6 cyun4, saam1 baak3 zoi2, loeng4 mit6 zi1, gwok3 naai5 goi2
Twenty times the thrown was transmitted
in a period of three hundred years.
The Liang State destroyed it,
and the dynastic title was changed.
loeng4 tong4 zeon3, kap6 hon3 zau1, cing1 ng5 doi6, gaai1 jau5 jau4
The Liang, the Tang, the Jin,
the Han, and the Zhou,
are called the Five Dynasties,
and there was a reason for the establishment of each.
jim4 sung3 hing1, sau6 zau1 sim4, sap6 baat3 cyun4, naam4 bak1 wan6
Then the fire-led house of Song arose,
and received the resignation of the house of Zhou.
Eighteen times the throne was transmitted,
and then the north and the south were reunited.
sap6 cat1 si2, cyun4 zoi6 zi1, zoi3 zi6 lyun6, zi1 hing1 seoi1
The Seventeen Dynastic Histories
are all embraced in the above.
They contain examples of good and bad government,
whence may be learnt the principles of prosperity and decay.
duk6 si2 syu1, haau2 sat6 luk6, tung1 gu2 gam1, joek6 can1 muk6
Ye who read history
must study the State Annals,
whereby you will understand ancient and modern events,
as though having seen them with your own eyes.