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Qin Shi      
Nie Zheng
- Qin Shi #50 (appended)
聶政 1
琴史 #50 2

Nie Zheng (4th c. BCE) is particularly associated with a melody called 聶政刺韓王 Nie Zheng Stabs the Han King. First mentioned in Qin Cao (#19 of the Hejian Zage), it is often said to be the origin of the famous melody, which still survives, Guangling San.

Another source for Nie Zheng is Shi Ji, Chapter 86, Assassin-Retainers.3 However, the details there are quite different. According to that and similar accounts Nie Zheng, from Zhi in modern Henan,4 killed a man and had to flee for fear of revenge. Some time in the early fourth century BCE he went to the Han capital (then at Yangzhai, today's Yuxian in central Henan5), killed the Han minister Jia Lei on behalf of a man who had befriended him, then committed suicide so no revenge would be taken on his family. However, his sister claimed the body an herself died on the spot. There is no mention of the qin or any other music instrument.

The original biography in Qin Shi, as appended to that of another man who sought revenge, Shuli Mugong, is as follows.

Qin Cao also has the melody Nie Zheng Stabs the Han King. Nie Zheng once met an immortal who taught him to play the qin. This accomplished he went to Han. This matter is in the Biography of Nie Zheng in the Shi Ji, but there it is quite different, saying that he stabbed the Han minister 俠累 Xia Lei. (Qin Cao) says Han King, so it is different from Shi (Ji). This melody, although it records the musicians, concerns the affairs of assassin-retainers; 非管弦所宜也 it is not appropriate for ensemble music.

Further details on this version of the story can be found in the comments on Guangling San.

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. 29829.20 聶政 Nie Zheng

2. 4 or 8 lines

3. Part of #86, Assassin Retainers. See GSR VII, p.323ff.

4. 軹 Zhi was north of modern 濟源 Jiyuan in Henan, north of the Yellow River, above Luoyang. At the time it belonged to the 魏 Wei kingdom.

5. 陽翟 Yangzhai (Yangdi?); 禹縣 Yu Xian.


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