Examining into antiquity, (we find that) the Di Yao was styled Fang-xun. He was reverential, intelligent, accomplished, and thoughtful – naturally and without effort. He was sincerely courteous, and capable of (all) complaisance. The bright (influence of these qualities) was felt through the four quarters (of the land), and reached to (heaven) above and (earth) beneath. He made the able and virtuous distinguished, and thence proceeded to the love of (all in) the nine classes of his kindred, who (thus) became harmonious. He (also) regulated and polished the people (of his domain), who all became brightly intelligent. (Finally), he united and harmonized the myriad states; and so the black-haired people were transformed. The result was (universal) concord.
He commanded the Xis and Hes, in reverent accordance with (their observation of) the wide heavens, to calculate and delineate (the movements and appearances of) the sun, the moon, the stars, and the zodiacal spaces, and so to deliver respectfully the seasons to be observed by the people.
He separately commanded the second brother Xi to reside at Yu-yi, in what was called the Bright Valley, and (there) respectfully to receive as a guest the rising sun, and to adjust and arrange the labours of the spring. ‘The day,’ (said he), ‘is of the medium length, and the star is in Niao – you may thus exactly determine mid-spring. The people are dispersed (in the fields), and birds and beasts breed and copulate.’
He further commanded the third brother Xi to reside at Nan-jiao, (in what was called the Brilliant Capital). to adjust and arrange the transformations of the summer, and respectfully-to observe the exact limit (of the shadow). ‘The day,’ (said he), ‘is at its longest, and the star is in Huo – you may thus exactly determine mid-summer. The people are more dispersed; and birds and beasts have their feathers and hair thin, and change their coats.’
He separately commanded the second brother He to reside at the west, in what was called the Dark Valley, and (there) respectfully to convoy the setting sun, and to adjust and arrange the completing labours of the autumn. ‘The night’ (said he), ‘is of the medium length, and the star is in Xu – you may thus exactly determine mid-autumn. The people feel at ease, and birds and beasts have their coats in good condition.’
He further commanded the third brother He to reside in the northern region, in what was called the Sombre Capital, and (there) to adjust and examine the changes of the winter. ‘The day,’ (said he), ‘is at its shortest, and the star is in Mao – you may thus exactly determine mid-winter. The people, keep in their houses, and the coats of birds and beasts are downy and thick.’
The Di said, ‘Ah! you, Xis and Hes, a round year consists of three hundred, sixty, and six days. Do you, by means of the intercalary month, fix the four seasons, and complete (the period of) the year. (Thereafter), the various officers being regulated, in accordance with this, all the works (of the year) will be fully performed.’
The Di said, ‘Who will search out (for me) a man according to the times, whom I can raise and employ?’ Fang-qi said, ‘(Your) heir-son Zhu is highly intelligent.’ The Di said, ‘Alas; he is insincere and quarrelsome – can he do?’
The Di said, ‘Who will search out (for me) a man equal to the exigency of my affairs?’ Huan-dou said, ‘Oh! the merits of the Minister of Works have just been displayed on a wide scale.’ The Di said, ‘Alas! when all is quiet, he talks; but when, employed, his actions turn out differently. he is respectful (only) in appearance. See! the floods assail the heavens!’
The Di said, ‘Ho! (President of) the Four Mountains, destructive in their overflow are the waters of the inundation. In their vast extent they embrace the hills and overtop the great heights, threatening the heavens with their floods, so that the lower people groan and murmur ‘Is there a capable man to whom I can assign the correction (of this calamity)?’ All (in the court) said, ‘Ah! is there not Kuan?’ The Di said, ‘Alas! how perverse is he! He is disobedient to orders, and tries to injure his peers.’ (The President of) the Mountains said, ‘Well but–. Try if he can (accomplish the work).’ (Kuan) was employed accordingly.
The Di said (to him), ‘Go; and be reverent!’ For nine years he laboured, but the work was unaccomplished.
The Di said, ‘Ho! (President of) the Four Mountains, I have been on the throne seventy years. You can carry out my commands – I will resign my place to you.’ The Chief said, ‘I have not the virtue; I should disgrace your place.’ (The Di) said, ‘Show me some one among the illustrious, or set forth one from among the poor and mean.’ All (then) said to the Di, ‘There is an unmarried man among the lower people, called Shun of Yu’. The Di said, ‘Yes, I have heard of him. What have you to say about him?’ The Chief said,’ He is the son of a blind man. His father was obstinately unprincipled; his (step-)mother was insincere; his (half-) brother Xiang was arrogant. He has been able (however), by his filial piety to live in harmony with them, and to lead them gradually to self-government, so that they (no longer) proceed to great wickedness.’ The Di said, ‘I will try him; I will wive him, and thereby see his behaviour with my two daughters.’ (Accordingly) he arranged and sent down his two daughters to the north of the Gui, to be wives in (the family of) Yu. The Di said to them, ‘Be reverent!’
From Shangshu – The Book of History
English translation: James Legge