Xun Yi
Grand Tutor to the Crown Prince
In office
265 (265)–274 (274)
MonarchEmperor Wu of Jin
Grand Marshal (太尉)
In office
265 (265)–274 (274)
MonarchEmperor Wu of Jin
Minister over the Masses
In office
MonarchEmperor Wu of Jin
Minister of Works
In office
30 April 264 (30 April 264) – 265 (265)
MonarchCao Huan
Preceded byWang Xiang
Personal details
Courtesy nameJingqian (景倩)
Posthumous nameDuke Kang (康公)
PeerageDuke of Linhuai (臨淮公)

Xun Yi (died 274), courtesy name Jingqian, was a Chinese politician of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. After the fall of Wei, he continued serving under the Jin dynasty, which replaced Wei in 266. He was the sixth son of Xun Yu.[1]

Family background and early life

Xun Yi's ancestral home was in Yingchuan Commandery (穎川郡; around present-day Xuchang, Henan). He was born in the influential Xun family as the sixth son of Xun Yu, a prominent statesman of the late Eastern Han dynasty and an adviser to the warlord Cao Cao. When he was still young, his brother-in-law Chen Qun already regarded him highly. Before he reached adolescence, he was already known for his filial piety, and for being knowledgeable, insightful and meticulous.[2]

Service in Cao Wei

Due to his father's past contributions, Xun Yi was given an appointment as a Palace Gentleman (中郎) in the state of Cao Wei. When Sima Yi was the regent of Wei, he felt that Xun Yi was a rare talent and once remarked, "Lord Prefect Xun's son is comparable to Yaoqing's son Yuan Kan (袁侃)."[3] Xun Yi was later promoted to a Mounted Gentleman (散騎侍郎) and then to a Palace Attendant (侍中).[4]

Xun Yi was a tutor to the third Wei emperor, Cao Fang. He was also commissioned as a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) and awarded the title of a Secondary Marquis (關內侯). He studied the Yijing with Zhong Hui and had philosophical debates with Sima Jun on the Confucian values ren and xiao.[5]

When the regent Cao Shuang was in power from 239 to 249,[6] the official He Yan and others wanted to harm Fu Jia, but Xun Yi saved him. After the regent Sima Shi deposed Cao Fang and replaced him with Cao Mao as the emperor of Wei in 254,[7] Xun Yi advised Sima to use the opportunity to announce the new emperor and see how his potential political rivals would react. In the same year,[7] the generals Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin, who opposed Sima Shi's act of changing the emperor, started a rebellion in Shouchun (壽春; around present-day Shou County, Anhui). Xun Yi assisted Sima Shi in suppressing the rebellion. As a reward for his efforts, he was enfeoffed as the Marquis of Wansui Village (萬歲亭侯) and given 400 taxable households to form his marquisate.[8]

Following Sima Shi's death in 255, his younger brother Sima Zhao became the new regent.[7] Xun Yi was promoted to a Master of Writing (尚書). Between 257 and 258,[9] when Sima Zhao was on a campaign to suppress a rebellion by Zhuge Dan, he left Xun Yi behind to guard the imperial capital Luoyang in his absence. In 260,[9] after his maternal nephew Chen Tai died, Xun Yi replaced him as a Supervisor (僕射) and took charge of the Ministry of Personnel. After he took over the ministry, he implemented more stringent practices to ensure that officials were carefully selected and appointed. During the Xianxi era (264-265) in the reign of the last Wei emperor Cao Huan, Xun Yi served as Minister of Works and was promoted from a village marquis to a district marquis.[10]

Xun Yi was known for his filial piety, which he maintained even when he was already in his 60s. When his mother died, he left office to perform filial mourning and displayed such deep sorrow over her death that he earned praise from his contemporaries for his filial piety. Sima Zhao also provided escorts for Xun Yi when he travelled around. In 265,[11] after the Cao Wei state conquered one of its rival states, Shu Han, it wanted to restore the five-tiered nobility hierarchy system so it put Xun Yi in charge of the process. Xun Yi proposed to the Wei imperial court to allow Yang Hu, Ren Kai (任愷), Geng Jun (庚峻), Ying Zhen (應貞) and Kong Hao (孔顥) to assist him, and they collectively drafted a set of rules governing imperial protocol and etiquette. Xun Yi was also promoted from a district marquis to a county marquis under the title "Marquis of Linhuai" (臨淮侯).[12]

Service under the Jin dynasty

Xun Yi continued serving under the government of the Jin dynasty, which replaced the state of Cao Wei in 265.[11] After Sima Yan (Emperor Wu) was enthroned as the first Jin emperor, he promoted Xun Yi from a county marquis to a duke under the title "Duke of Linhuai" (臨淮公), with 1,800 taxable households in his dukedom. Emperor Wu also appointed Xun Yi as Minister over the Masses. Later, Xun Yi was concurrently appointed as a Palace Attendant and promoted to Grand Marshal (太尉), putting him in charge of military affairs and in command of 100 of the emperor's close guards. Shortly after, Xun Yi was given an additional appointment as acting Grand Tutor to the Crown Prince (太子太傅).[13]

Xun Yi died in 274[14] during the Taishi era (265–274) of Emperor Wu's reign. Before his death, he had been tasked with arranging the music for two dance pieces, Zhengde (正德) and Dayu (大豫). Emperor Wu held a grand state funeral for Xun Yi and ordered the crown prince Sima Zhong to pay respects at the funeral. He also honoured Xun Yi with the posthumous name "Kang" (康), hence Xun Yi was formally known as "Duke Kang of Linhuai" (臨淮康公). Xun Yi's family members were given two million coins to build a house because Xun Yi and his family had no fixed residence when he was still living. In the early Xianning era (275–280) of Emperor Wu's reign, the emperor issued an imperial edict to honour his subjects who had rendered meritorious service. Xun Yi, as one of those subjects named in the edict, was enshrined in the imperial ancestral temple.[15]

Xun Yi was very familiar with the rules of decorum and propriety, having read and known by heart the contents of books such as Etiquette and Ceremonial, Book of Rites and Rites of Zhou. Although his moral character was considered generally good, it was nonetheless tarnished by his obsequious behaviour towards, and association with, Jia Chong and Xun Xu (荀勗). When it was time for the crown prince Sima Zhong to marry, Xun Yi nominated Jia Chong's daughter to be the prince's consort. He was scorned by others for doing that.[16]


Xun Yi had no son when he died so he had no one to inherit his peerage and dukedom. Sometime in the late 380s, Xun Xu (荀序), a great-great-grandnephew of Xun Yi, inherited the peerage as the "Duke of Linhuai". After Xun Xu's death, Emperor Xiaowu (r. 372–396) designated Xun Xu's son, Xun Heng (荀恆), as the new Duke of Linhuai. The peerage was later passed on to Xun Heng's son, Xun Longfu (荀龍符), and finally abolished in 420[17] when Liu Yu ended the Jin dynasty and founded the Liu Song dynasty.[18]

See also


  1. ^ a b de Crespigny (2007), p. 928.
  2. ^ (荀顗,字景倩,潁川人,魏太尉彧之第六子也。幼為姊婿陳群所賞。性至孝,總角知名,博學洽聞,理思周密。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  3. ^ (晉陽秋曰: ... 司馬宣王見顗,奇之,曰:「荀令君之子也。近見袁偘,亦曜卿之子也。」) Jin Yang Qiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 10.
  4. ^ (魏時以父勳除中郎。宣帝輔政,見顗奇之,曰:「荀令君之子也。」擢拜散騎侍郎,累遷侍中。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  5. ^ (為魏少帝執經,拜騎都尉,賜爵關內侯。難鐘會《易》無互體,又與扶風王駿論仁孝孰先,見稱於世。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  6. ^ Sima (1084), vols. 74–75.
  7. ^ a b c Sima (1084), vol. 76.
  8. ^ (時曹爽專權,何晏等欲害太常傅嘏,顗營救得免。及高貴鄉公立,顗言於景帝曰:「今上踐阼,權道非常,宜速遣使宣德四方,且察外志。」毌丘儉、文欽果不服,舉兵反。顗預討儉等有功,進爵萬歲亭侯,邑四百戶。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  9. ^ a b Sima (1084), vol. 77.
  10. ^ (文帝輔政,遷尚書。帝征諸葛誕,留顗鎮守。顗甥陳泰卒,顗代泰為僕射,領吏部,四辭而後就職。顗承泰後,加之淑慎,綜核名實,風俗澄正。咸熙中,遷司空,進爵鄉侯。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  11. ^ a b Sima (1084), vol. 79.
  12. ^ (顗年逾耳順,孝養蒸蒸,以母憂去職,毀幾滅性,海內稱之。文帝奏,宜依漢太傅胡廣喪母故事,給司空吉凶導從。及蜀平,興復五等,命顗定禮儀。顗上請羊祜、任愷、庚峻、應貞、孔顥共刪改舊文,撰定晉禮。咸熙初,封臨淮侯。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  13. ^ (武帝踐阼,進爵為公,食邑一千八百戶。又詔曰:「昔禹命九官,契敷五教,所以弘崇王化,示人軌儀也。朕承洪業,昧於大道,思訓五品,以康四海。侍中、司空顗,明允篤誠,思心通遠,翼亮先皇,遂輔朕躬,實有佐命弼導之勳。宜掌教典,以隆時雍。其以顗為司徒。」尋加侍中,遷太尉、都督城外牙門諸軍事,置司馬親兵百人。頃之,又詔曰:「侍中、太尉顗,溫恭忠允,至行純備,博古洽聞,耆艾不殆。其以公行太子太傅,侍中、太尉如故。」) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  14. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 80.
  15. ^ (時以《正德》、《大豫》雅頌未合,命顗定樂。事未終,以泰始十年薨。帝為舉哀,皇太子臨喪,二宮賻贈,禮秩有加。詔曰:「侍中、太尉、行太子太傅、臨淮公顗,清純體道,忠允立朝,曆司外內,茂績既崇,訓傅東宮,徽猷弘著,可謂行歸於周,有始有卒者矣。不幸薨殂,朕甚痛之。其賜溫明秘器、朝服一具,衣一襲。諡曰康。」又詔曰:「太尉不恤私門,居無館宇,素絲之志,沒而彌顯。其賜家錢二百萬,使立宅舍。」咸甯初,詔論次功臣,將配饗宗廟。所司奏顗等十二人銘功太常,配饗清廟。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  16. ^ (顗明《三禮》,知朝廷大儀,而無質直之操,唯阿意苟合於荀勖、賈充之間。初,皇太子將納妃,顗上言賈充女姿德淑茂,可以參選,以此獲譏於世。) Jin Shu vol. 39.
  17. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 119.
  18. ^ (顗無子,以從孫徽嗣。中興初,以顗兄玄孫序為顗後,封臨淮公。序卒,又絕,孝武帝又封序子恆繼顗後。恆卒,子龍符嗣。宋受禪,國除。) Jin Shu vol. 39.