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Chinese fable stories (1)
Chinese fable stories (1)
指 鹿 為 馬
Pointing at a deer and say it is a horse.
In 221BC, Ying Zheng (嬴政), the ruler of the State of Qin (秦國), became
the First Emperor of Qin (秦始皇帝) when he successfully conquered and
subjucated all the other States in the land and established the Qin
Dynasty (秦朝 221BC to 207BC).
In 210BC, while on a tour of the Eastern part of his vast empire, he died
there from a severe asthma attack in the city of Sha Qiu (沙丘 in the
northeast of present day Ping Xiang 平鄉 ccounty in Heibei province
河北省) . His second son Hu Hai (胡亥), the Prime Minister Li Si (李斯)
and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao (趙高) were with him when he died.
The city of Sha Qiu was more than 1000 kilometers to the east of the Qin
capital, Xian Yang (咸陽 present day Xi An 西安 city in Shaanxi province
陜西省). The crown prince, Fu Su (扶蘇), then was in the north and far
away from the capital. He was sent there by his father to help supervise
the construction of the Great Wall. Actually Fu Su was the son-in-law of
the Prime Minister Li Si.
Under the will made by the first Emperor, the crown prince should become
the next Emperor. However, the trio of Hu Hai, Li Si and Zhao Gao
destroyed the original and forged two new wills in its place. One
pronounced Hu Hai as the successor and the other ordered Fu Su the crown
prince to take his own life. The death of the Emperor was concealed from
the people and the Emperor's corpse was convered with salted fish to
disguised its odour.
On his arrival back in the capital, Hu Hai was installed as the Second
Emperor of Qin (秦二皇帝) However, he proved to be stupid and idiotic. Li
Si, the Prime Minister lost favour with the Second Emperor and the
executive power gradually shifted to Zhao Gao, the chief eunuch.
The vast majority of people suffered greatly under the rigid and severe
rule of the Qin government. Riots erupted throughout the empire, soldiers
mutinied and the people were in open revolt.
The Prime Minister, Li Si, could not prevent the riots from spreading.
Zhao Gao took the opportunity to get rid of the Prime Minister by accused
him of cooperating with the rebels and trying to overthrow the government.
Li Si was arrested, charged with high treason and executed along with his
The chief eunuch became the new Prime Minister and immediately harboured
intentions of eliminating the Second Emperor too. But he was unsure of the
support of the Court Officials. In order to find out who were his
supporters, one day, Zhao Gao took a deer to the Court. In front of all
the officials he led the deer and gave it to the Second Emperor saying:
"This is the best horse in the land. It is for you, your majesty".
The Second Emperor thought he was joking and laughingly replied:
"You must be joking, Prime Minister. It is not a horse. It is a deer".
But the Zhao Gao was serious and said that it was a horse. The Second
Emperor was also obstinate and insisted that it was a deer. They argued
and argued at length but neither party would give in.
Finally, they agreed that they should ask the opinions of Court Officials.
Many of them were afraid of the powerful Zhao Gao as he was considered the
man who was more powerful than the Emperor.. Those who were scared of Zhao
Gao said that it was a horse. Only a handful of Court Officials were
honest and said it was a deer. Eventually the pretending horse won the
In 207BC Zhao Gao had the Second Emperor murdered and eliminated those
officials who sided with the Emperor in the debate about the deer. The
elder son of the late crown prince Fu Su was crowned the King, and not an
Emperor, of Qin as the Qin Empire had already collapsed.
Fearing that Zhao Gao might murder him too, the new King had Zhao Gao
Shi Ji (史記)
CHUNG Yoon-Ngan firstname.lastname@example.org
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