Chinese Notes 1 - Euhemerism: Euhemerus (late 4th century...

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Euhemerism: Euhemerus (late 4 th century BC) explained that the Greek gods such as Uranus, Cronus, Zeus, etc., had originally been great kings. They were so respected that they were worshiped after their deaths and eventually became recognized as gods. This theory is known as “euhemerism” The process of a person becoming, over time, recognized as a god is called “euhemerization”. In Chinese history/mythology the process is often the opposite: gods, overtime, be come accepted as having been historical people. The theory that describes this process will be called “reverse euhemerization” Derk Bodde He mentions that “Chinese scholars” use the term “euhemerization” in a sense opposite to its accepted meaning. He realizes this situation, but continues to use the term in this opposite sense. 1
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What Bodde calls “euhemerization”, in this class we call “reverse euhemerization” Archaeological Evidence 10,000 BC: Neolithic begins 8,000 BC: dogs and millet (north) 7,000 BC: dogs (west) 6,000 BC: rice (south) 3,000 BC: sheep and wheat (north) 2,000 BC: bronze manufacture 1,300 BC: horse 1 AD: chicken (north) Written History Shang dynasty ends (traditionally 1167 BC; modern scholars date this ca. 1045 BC) Zhou dynasty is founded The Zhou established a form of “feudalism” as their way of administration. Dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, and barons were established to rule various states. 771 BC End of Western Zhou (722 to 481 BC is known as the Spring and Autumn Period, named after a book wit this title) Non-Chinese tribes people defeat Zhou forces; capital near modern Xi’an (in west) falls. Western Zhou ends. Capital is moved to Luoyang (farther to the east) Eastern Zhou begins. 2
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Zhou never regained earlier power. Stronger states absorbed weaker ones. 403-221 BC is known as the Warring States Periods Three major powers emerged: Qi, Qin, and Chu Qin destroyed the helpless Zhou in 256, Chu fell in 223, and in 221 Qin defeated Qi, the last of its rivals, establishing the first Chinese Empire. The King of Qin (who had come to the throne in 246 BC) proclaimed himself the first Emperor of Qin. He coined the word for emperor, combining the two words huang di. The term “di” originally referred to the supreme deity of the Shang religion: god, or shangdi, god on high. This usage aided the process of reverse euhemerization. The first emperor died in 210 and his empire soon collapsed. Following a civil war a new empire, the Han was established in 206. The Han lasted until 221 AD (with a short interregnum from 9-24 AD) Culture Since early times China has settled agriculture People were mobilized for warfare and water conservancy Shang dynasty religion recognized a “supreme deity” The Shang people also worshipped a number of other deities, including deceased ancestors. The Zhou people recognized t’ien (Heaven) as the supreme deity.
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This note was uploaded on 10/19/2011 for the course CHINESE 155 taught by Professor Idk during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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Chinese Notes 1 - Euhemerism: Euhemerus (late 4th century...

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