On the morning of November 12, 2018, at the invitation of Professor Zhang Jin from the Department of Chinese History at Nanjing Normal University, Professor Zhao Guohua of the School of History and Culture at Huazhong Normal University gave a lecture entitled “Liu Bang’s Spiritual World” in Room 213, Building 400, Nanjing Normal University. Professor Chen Xi from the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army attended the lecture. The meeting room was full of students with lively atmosphere, and the discussion was extremely enthusiastic.
At the beginning of the lecture, Professor Zhao proposed that there was a unified country in the Qin and Han Dynasties, with a vast territory and a complete system, which played an important role in the study of ancient Chinese history. At the same time, Professor Zhao also pointed out the difficulty in studying the history of the Qin and Han Dynasties. One is the shortage of historical materials, and the other is the academic history of more than 2,000 years. He also suggested that in the case of shortage of historical materials, students should think more and explore historical materials deeply, which is a great benefit to post graduate students of ancient Chinese history.
Professor Zhao introduced the classics in a simple way, combining the Gaozu Ji of Shiji史记·高祖本纪and Gaodi Ji of Hanshu汉书·高帝纪to deeply analyze the spiritual world of Han Gaozu Liu Bang. He believes that Liu Bang has a great ambition and regards himself as a “true man大丈夫”. For this reason, he has continuously cultivated himself to have the qualities of ancient intellectuals such as wisdom, benevolence and fearlessness. Wisdom refers to intellectual and resourcefulness, embodied in the ability and artistry of Liu Bang’s words, and Liu Bang advocates solving problems with intelligence. For example, in the Xingyang battle, Xiang Yu asked Liu Bang to fight with him, but Liu Bang said “Intelligence is more than fighting”. Regarding benevolence, Professor Zhao pointed out that Sima Qian wrote in the Shiji that Liu Bang loves people as well as charity and was called “highly respected person长者” at that time. And Liu Bang’s fearlessness is also reflected in the historical materials. For example, he led the prisoner’s uprising in Pei County as well as repeatedly took part in the battlefield and suffered serious injuries. All in all, Liu Bang has the necessary qualities for intellectuals. In addition, Professor Zhao also analyzed the personality traits of Liu Bang. He believed that Liu Bang was open-minded and sincere, even was not afraid to death. Sima Qian used many “big大” characters to describe Liu Bang in historical materials, which is a high evaluation.
After the lecture, under the host of Professor Zhang Jin, Professor Zhao had a deep exchange with the teachers and students. Professor Chen Xi put forward the issue of emotional orientation when evaluating historical figures from the perspective of literature. Professor Zhao believes that the evaluation of figures should have certain standards, and the evaluation of historical figures should be raised to the height of human beings. On this basis, he also pointed out the shortcomings of Liu Bang, such as like wine, beautiful women and swearing as well as self-centered. For example, he abandoned his son many times on the way to escape, Professor Zhang Jin added: “For the country to ignore the family为天下者不顾家”, which is the consensus of ancient and modern politicians. Dr. Sun Yurong proposed that from the Warring States to the Qin and Han Dynasties, gradually shifting from etiquette to utilitarianism, whether Xiang Yu and Liu Bang represent these two tendencies. Professor Zhao believes that the aristocratic system has been eliminated in the Qin and Han dynasties, and bureaucratic politics replaced the aristocratic politics. Therefore, Xiang Yu’s aristocratic spirit is difficult to define. At last, Professor Zhao emphasized that the interpretation of history is infinite and one person’s opinion cannot be final conclusion, but only provide a possibility for discussion.
In this lecture, Professor Zhao Guohua brought a wealth of spiritual food to the doctoral and master students in the history school, especially the methods of history, which greatly stimulated the students’ learning and research enthusiasm.