I was amazed to find the other day on the French National Library’s web site that in 1892 a Frenchman by the name of Abel des Michels published a French translation (with notes) of a work that I recently translated into English, The Prefatory Compilation (Tiền biên) of the Imperially Commissioned Itemized Summaries of the Comprehensive Mirror of Việt History (Khâm định Việt sử thông giám cương mục).
I had never heard of this person. So this is fascinating to see.
But there is something else that I found in this book that is even more interesting.
As is well known, Vietnamese histories trace the beginning of an imperial tradition in the Red River Delta to the southward spread of descendents of the (mythical) ancient “Chinese” ruler, Shen Nong.
The Imperially Commissioned Itemized Summaries of the Comprehensive Mirror of Việt History, for instance, records that, “Originally, Di Ming/Đế Minh, a third generation descendent in the clan of the Fiery Emperor Shen Nong/Thần Nông toured the south to the Five Passes, and took as his consort the Vụ Tiên maiden. She gave birth to a son, Lộc Tục, who had sagely virtue. . .”
The story then continues up to the establishment of a line of kings in the Red River Delta known as the Hùng kings.
In his first footnote, Abel des Michels notes that there were a couple of scholars at that time – Terrien de Lacouperie and William St. Chad Boscawen – who argued that “Shen Nong” was the same as “Sargon,” also known as “Sargon of Akkad,” one of the most famous rulers of ancient Babylon in the area in the Middle East that we refer to in antiquity as Mesopotamia.
Abel des Michels wasn’t sure if these scholars correct, but he noted that if they were correct, then it would be interesting to note that there was a connection between the Hùng kings and ancient Mesopotamia.
While today we might laugh at ideas like this as crazy, I think we should capitalize on them and make a Hollywood movie about this. Let’s tie together Mesopotamia and the Hùng kings. We’ll create a movie where Sargon of Akkad travels to China and becomes Shen Nong, and then his descendents establish the reign of the Hùng kings in the Red River Delta.
The first thing we will need is a handsome man. My idea would be to have the same actor play Sargon/Shen Nong and the first Hùng King, so that the connection will be obvious.
I would prefer someone like Kaneshiro Takeshi, but we might need someone with a more muscular body.
Then there are the women. In the ancient Mesopotamian work, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which takes place before the time of Sargon of Akkad, a character by the name of Enkidu is “tamed” by a temple prostitute. This has been interpreted as symbolizing the transition from a life in nature to a life in “civilization.”
In contrast, in the Vietnamese annals a descendent of Shen Nong marries a kind of “serpent/dragon woman” (Thần Long). So in that case, it seems like it was the man who “civilized” the woman.
So what we can do in the movie is to take that basic idea from the Epic of Gilgamesh and apply it to Sargon of Akkad. We will have Sargon of Akkad sleep with a temple prostitute and become “civilized,” and then his descendent can marry Thần Long and “civilize” her. That will create at least two good love scenes in the movie.
However, in looking for pictures for this post, I came across this “tigress.” I definitely think we need her in the movie too. So I propose that when Sargon of Akkad travels to China to become Shen Nong, that he meets this “tigress” who tries to temp him back to nature, but he resists!! So now we can have three love scenes in the movie. That should be enough.
The end result is that we will have a movie that ties together the histories of Mesopotamia, China and Vietnam. Even better, it will be filled with handsome men and beautiful women.
Finally, we can include the bronze drums and the “Việt” creation of the Yijing/Kinh dịch in all of this as well. There will be room for everyone in this movie.
And just to help get us started, I’ve created a sample of the dialog between the Mesopotamian god Ishtar and Sargon, when Ishtar is telling Sargon to go to the east and become Shen Nong.
“Sargon, your tasks here are complete. Go east my son, until you come to China, where you will become known as Shen Nong, the great agriculturalist. From there your descendants will spread southward. They will start a new line of kings, the Hùng kings. They will make drums of bronze, and on those drums they will create symbols, those symbols will. . . (coughing).”