Register Wednesday | September 19 | 2018

Ancient Chinese Diss: The Second Emperor of China Wasn't Half the Man His Father Was

Photo: árticotropical via flickr

Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of China, and his reign ended a period of constant war that had lasted 250 years.  He burnt books he believed "were of no use," and wiped out the multiplicity of cultures that came before him.  

Cultural unity and the absence of war freed up resources for the emperor's use; he had his people build the Great Wall and a national road network, and he revamped the entire social structure of the empire.  Shi Huang saw himself as a demigod, and had a burial site built accordingly: more than 8000 life-sized terracotta soldiers surround his grave.

When he died in 210 BCE, his son Qin Er Shi became emperor, but within three years the people turned against him, and his family's dynasty crumbled.  Qin Er Shi's grave has yet to be renovated, and is not a major tourist attraction.  "Er Shi" literally translates as "second generation," but is now used to describe spoiled children who grow up without moral values or life skills.

 

Related on maisonneuve.org:

—Ancient Chinese Secret
A Tale of Two Beijings
"Sleep Together and Have Sons": Celebrating Chinese New Year with Sex and Dumplings

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