Liu Xiang Biography

I’m stuck on a History question and need an explanation.

For this discussion, we look at Liu Xiang’s Biographies of Exemplary Women. Liu Xiang (79 BCE-8 BCE) (Lee-oh shee-awng) was an important scholar who lived during the Han Dynasty. He was a member of the imperial family. During the Han Dynasty, the government and its officials promoted Confucian moral education for both men and women. Liu wrote this book specifically for the moral education of women, and it is the earliest extant (yet existing) book devoted to this purpose. Liu believed that by gathering stories from earlier works about women who exemplified Confucian virtues in their lives, other women would be inspired to follow their example and therefore to cultivate these virtues. Indeed, Liu’s work was used in earlier times in China to educate young women.

To learn about the historical background, be sure to read about Confucius and Confucianism in our book (pp. 127-129) as well as the Han Dynasty (pp. 134-138). Then look at (and read!) a selection of these biographies included in the chapter on “The Principled and Righteous.”

For this discussion, in approximately 250 words, please choose three biographies from Liu Xiang’s Biographies of Exemplary Women, and then address these issues:

  • Why do you think they were included as examples of exemplary women? What is the lesson to be learned?
  • Liu Xiang placed these biographies in the category of “Principled and Righteous.” Why do you think he considered them to be principled and righteous?
  • Do these biographies illustrate Confucian values? How so?

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