What is not clear is what Cui had revealed that would bring such disaster on him. After all, Gao had admitted to writing most of the history, and yet he was spared and Cui was severely punished. Further, what Cui had revealed was not recorded in history. That had led to speculation that perhaps Cui had tried to start a Han rebellion, or that he had been the victim of a Buddhist conspiracy. Neither speculation appeared to be more than speculation.
Modern historian Bo Yang believed there to be two probable reasons to Cui's death:
- He believed that Cui did reveal an infamy about the imperial clan—that Emperor Daowu was a traitor and had sold out his father Tuoba Shiyijian to Former Qin. (See here for more details; under the later official history, however, Tuoba Shiyijian was Emperor Daowu's grandfather, not father.)
- He believed that Cui was in conflict with Crown Prince Huang, and that it was at Crown Prince Huang's direction that Gao attributed the histories' authorship as indicated—because the key problematic passage would come from Tuoba Shiyijian's biography, not Emperor Daowu's, and Gao was silent as to who wrote Tuoba Shiyijian's biography.
Bo's analysis is itself speculation, but might be considered a reasonable explanation for what happened to Cui. Bo also believed that Cui was poisoned—which would explain why he was not able to respond at all to Emperor Taiwu's interrogation, and was later only yelling "Ao Ao" in lament, unable to say anything.
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