THESE Odes of Shang constitute the last Book in the ordinary editions of the Shih. I put them here in the first place, because they are the oldest pieces in the collection. There are only five of them.
The sovereigns of the dynasty of Shang who occupied the throne from B.C. 1766 to 1123. They traced their lineage to Hsieh, appears in the Shû as Minister of Instruction to Shun. By Yâo or by Shun, Hsieh was invested with the principality of Shang, corresponding to the small department which is so named in Shen-hsî. Fourteenth in descent from him came Thien-Yî, better known as Khăng Thang, or Thang the Successful, who dethroned the last descendant of the line of Hsiâ, and became the founder of a new dynasty. We meet with him first at a considerable distance from the ancestral fief (which, however, gave name to the dynasty), having as his capital the southern Po, which seems correctly referred to the present district of Shang-khiû, in the department of Kwei-teh, Ho-nan. Among the twenty-seven sovereigns who followed Thang, there were three especially distinguished:--Thâi Kiâ, his grandson and successor (B.C. 1753 to 1721), who received the title of Thai Ȝung; Thai Mâu (B.C. 1637 to 1563), canonized as Kung Ȝung; and Wû-ting (B.C. 1324 to 1266), known as Kâo Ȝung. The shrines of these three sovereigns and that of Thang retained their places in the ancestral temple ever after they were first set up and if all the sacrificial odes of the dynasty had been preserved, most of them would have been in praise of one or other of the four. But it so happened that at least all the odes of which Thai Ȝung was the subject were lost; and of the others we have only the small portion that has been mentioned above.
Of how it is that we have even these, we have the following account in the Narratives of the States, compiled, probably, by a contemporary of Confucius. The count of Wei was made duke of Sung by king Wû of Kâu, as related in the Shû, V, viii, there to continue the sacrifices of the House of Shang; but the government of Sung fell subsequently into disorder, and the memorials of the dynasty were lost. In the time of duke Tâi (B.C. 799 to 766), one of his ministers, Kăng-khâo, an ancestor of Confucius, received from the Grand Music-Master at the court of Kâu twelve
of the sacrificial odes of Shang with which he returned to Sung, where they were used in sacrificing to the old Shang kings. It is supposed that seven of these were lost subsequently, before the collection of the Shih was formed.