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Ban Chao, One Who Dropped the Pen for the Sword

Post Time:2018-12-26 Views:
Ban Chao (32-102), a native of Pingling in Fufeng (present-day northeast of Xianyang, Shanxi), was the youngest son of the Eastern Han historian Ban Chao. His elder brother Ban Gu and his younger sister Ban Zhao were also famous historians. Ban Chao was a bright child with great ambition. His extensive reading equipped him with knowledge and wisdom. In 62 A.D. 31-year-lod Ban Chao came to the capital city of Luoyang together with his mother and his elder brother. Coming from a poor family, Ban Chao took up a job as a transcriber of documents for government offices for a living.
One day Ban Chao learned that the Huns had invaded the Han border. He threw away the writing brush and vowed to emulate Zhangqian and Fu Jiezi of the Western Han Dynasty to make contributions to safeguarding the frontier in the Western Regions, and eventually win recognition for his meritorious deeds and be awarded officialdom by the imperial court. He said “as a real man, how can I stay with the ink-stone and the brush forever?” His transcriber colleagues laughed at his bluster. Ban Chao retorted: “How can a brat understand what a warrior thinks?” As expected Ban Chao was later dispatched on mission to the Western Regions where he rendered meritorious services. In the ensuing thirty years, Ban Chao convinced more than fifty countries in the Western Regions to submit to the rule of the Han Dynasty, realizing his lofty ideal of servicing the country in an alien land. In 100, the 69-year-old Ban Chao wrote to Emperor He requesting his approval of his returning to Luoyang where his roots were. In this letter there were two touching lines:”I dare not dream about coming to Jiuquan County, I’d be gratified if I could enter Yumenguan Pass alive.” In August of the 14th year of the Yongyuan Period of Emperor He(102) Ban Chao got the permission to return to Luoyang. One month later he was sick from overwork and passed away at the age of seventy-one.
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