The beginning chapters of the three sections “Basic Annals,” “Hereditary Families,” and “Biographies” in Shiji, namely “The Basic Annals of the Five Emperors,” “The Hereditary Family of Wu Taibo,” and “The Biography of Boyi” focus on origins: the earliest rulers, ruling lineages, and noteworthy individuals; the beginning of temporal order; the opening act in laying out what is worth recording as defined by how each section is understood. I propose to examine the question of origins from three perspectives: the foundation of political power and authority, textual filiation and notions of authorship, and the relationship between imagining beginnings and the categorical definition of each section. All three chapters deal with various aspects of the notion of yielding rulership to the worthy, including its justification and implementation, comparison with genealogical claims and military action as paths to power, and possible consequence of contention and violence. Both “The Basic Annals of the Five Emperors” and “The Biography of Boyi,” and to a lesser extent “Hereditary Family of Wu Taibo,” self-consciously address the question of textual origins, collation of sources, and the historian’s intervention. Each of the three chapters has its share of internal differences and variant versions of the same story. The parallels and contradictions when we juxtapose these three chapters also point to the implications of combining tradition and counter-tradition in imagining beginnings for the understanding of Shiji as a whole.