Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Sona 素那

The account of Sona is the 24th of fifty biographies included in Kim Busik’s Samguk-sagi (三國史記).

Sona  素那  소나

Sona, also called Kim Cheon (金川), was from Sasan (蛇山 ‘Snake Mountain’) in Baekseong county (白城郡 ‘White Fortress’) [of Silla]. His father was Simna (沈那), also called Hwangcheon (煌川), whose physical strength (膂) surpassed [all] others but whose body was [at once] light and agile. Sasan straddled the border with Baekje and so they continuously attacked one another without a quiet month (虛月). Whenever Simna went out to battle there were no strong [enemy] camps that could face him.

During the Inpyeong era (仁平, the second reign era of Queen Seondeok, 634-48) [Silla] sent out troops from Baekseong to go and attack (往抄?) a Baekje border town (邑). [In response] Baekje sent out elite soldiers and they fought furiously (急). Our [Silla] troops were thrown into disorder and retreated. [But] Simna stood alone gripping his sword. With angry eyes and wild shouting he hacked down several tens of men [such] that the [Baekje] bandits did not dare to face [him] (當). Eventually the [Baekje commanders] pulled back their soldiers and fled. [From a distance] the Baekje men pointed at Simna saying, “The flying general (飛將) of Silla!”  And they said to one another, “[As long as] Simna is alive, do not go near Baekseong!”

Sona had the [same] heroic (雄豪) character (風) as his father. After the downfall of Baekje, Prince Yu (儒公), the governor of Hanju province (漢州), requested to the king to transfer Sona to Adal Fortress (阿達城) to strengthen the defence of the northern border (北鄙).

In the second year of Sangwon (上元), Eulhae (乙亥 675), spring, the geupchan (級飡 ninth degree rank) chief magistrate (太守) of Adal Fortress, [named] Hanseon (漢宣), had the commoners all go out on a certain day to plant hemp[!] and [they] were unable to ignore this command. A Malgal (靺鞨) spy learnt of this (認) and returned to report it to his chief (酋長). When the day arrived, all of the commoners went out of the fortress into the fields. [But] the Malgal had secretly [led] soldiers and suddenly entered the fortress, plundering it whole. The old and young were in a difficult situation and did not know what would become of themselves. [Whereupon] Sona brandishing his sword confronted the [Malgal] bandits and loudly cried out, “Know ye that Silla has Sona the son of Simna! I have absolutely no fear of death with [any] plan of living. Will those who want to fight come forward!?”

Enraged he charged into the bandits [but] they did not dare to approach him and only shot arrows. Sona shot back [such that the] flying arrows were like a swarm of bees. [They continued like this] from the Jin hour (辰時 7-9am) until the Yu hour (酉時 5-7pm) [until] Sona’s body [was pierced with so many] arrows he looked like a hedgehog and finally he collapsed and died.

Sona’s wife was the daughter of the respected household (良家) of Garimgun (加林郡). When at first the enemy country (敵國) had been close to Adal Fortress, [Sona] had gone alone making his wife stay at home. When the county folk heard of Sona’s death they [tried to] console her. His wife cried but said to them, “My husband always said, ‘A great man must die in battle (兵死). How can one lie in bed and die housebound (死家人之手 lit. ‘die [with?/by?] the hands of a house person’)?!’ Throughout his life his words were such. Now he has died according to this will.”

[Upon] hearing this the great king shed tears [until] the collar [of his robe] was wet and said, “Father and son were valiant in their service to the kingdom. [This is] loyalty and virtue across generations!”

[He posthumously] awarded [Sona] the rank of japchan (迊飡 third rank).


One thought on “Sources: Samguk-sagi biographies – Sona 素那

  1. Pingback: Sources: Samguk-sagi 三國史記 (1145) – contents | Koreanology

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