Chinese Notes 4 - Real Euhemerization-Wu Zixu and Quyuan Wu...

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“Real” Euhemerization -Wu Zixu and Quyuan Wu Zixu Born during the time of King Pink (r. 528-516 BC) of the Warring States kingdom of Chu Wu Zixu’s father and elder brother were executed during political infighting Wu Zixu fled, after a series of adventures, to the state of Wu Eventually he became a high minister of the state of Wu and an important general. He helped Wu conquer the states of Chu and Yue When he conquered Chu, he dug up the corpse of King Ping who had executed his father and brother and whipped he corpse in revenge Later, a reinvigorated Yue was plotting to invade Wu Wu Zixu denounced their bribes and was slandered by jealous officials King Fuchai ordered him to commit suicide He did not commit suicide, with a sword given him by the king This happened about 484 BC (Later in 482 BC, Yue invaded and conquered Wu, and King Fuchai committed suicide) After his suicide, the body of Wu Zixu was thrown into the Qiantang River It is said that his anger at this and his country’s fate caused the tidal bore of the Qiantang River Temples were built to Wu Zixu in the area and he came to be recognized as the god of the Qiantang River tidal bore By the Han dynasty, in South China Wu Zixu had become the god associated with the Double Five or Dragon Boat Festival: 5 th day of the 5 th lunar month Wang Chong, a scholar of the 1 st century AD writes about the god of the tidal bore in south China “The history books say the when King Fuchai of Wu killed Wu Zixu, he boiled him in a cauldron, put his body in a wineskin, and threw it into the river. But Zixu’s hate was so powerful that it drove the waters before it and made the rushing tidal bore in which people are drowned. Today in the Guji area there are temples to Zixu at Dantu on the Yangtze and at the Qiantang on the River Zhejiang, erected there to mollify his hatred and assuage the violence of the tide… The Zhejiang River, and Shanyin River, and the Shangyu River all have this tidal bore” (translated by David Hawkes, The Songs of the South, Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1985, p.65) Later, the “dragon boat festival” came to be associated with a different historical person: Qu Yuan
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Qu Yuan Qu Yuan is the “author” of the Chu Chi , a collection of poems supposedly centering on the Warring States period states of Chu. The present Chu Ci was edited into more-or-less its present state by a Han scholar, Wang Yi in the 2 nd century AD, but poems from it were quoted by earlier writers. The “Heavenly Questions” is from Chu Ci Qu Yuan was a high minister in the state of Chu He was slandered by rivals and sent into exile The king, failing to heed Qu Yuan’s advice, fought a disastrous war with Qin state which resulted in the destruction of Ying, the Chu Capital Hearing of Ying’s destruction, Qu Yuan committed suicide by leaping into the Miluo River (a tributary of the Xian, which is a tributary of the Yangtze)
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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 4 - Real Euhemerization-Wu Zixu and Quyuan Wu...

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