Loyal Officials or Unscrupulous Careerists?
Chu Shaosun's Critical Remarks on Some Chancellors of late Western Han
and their Assessment in the Hanshu
In those parts of the transmitted Shiji text that were certainly not been written by Sima Qian but added by a later author, most probably by Chu Shaosun (?104–?30), quite much information is provided on some chancellors of the late Western Han period, more precisely, chancellors who served at the court of Emperor Wu during the last years of his reign and at those of Emperors Xuan and Yuan, i. e. between 90 and 36 B.C.
A comparison with the Hanshu where most of these chancellors have been honored with a biography reveals that not only some data about when and why these men got or lost their positions, but also the way these men are portrayed and evaluated are not fully reconcilable in both sources.
Based on the results of this comparison, I will try to find answers for these apparently different assessments of persons in the Hanshu on the one hand and in the parts added to the Shiji on the other hand. Apart from considering the relationship between both sources to each other, I will examine against which historical background Chu Shaosun’s critical remarks on these chancellors should possibly be seen.