Emperor Qinshihuang burned books to bury Confucians, and descendants of Confucius trapped books in their collectors

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burn books and bury the literati in pits

Sinology Abstract

Reading Chinese classics is a good idea

Chen Yu, a man of Wei, said to Kongzi, “Qin will destroy the books of the former king, and the son is the master of the books. How dangerous it is!” Zi Yu said, “I am a useless school. Only friends know me. Qin is not my friend. How dangerous I am! I will hide it for him to ask. If he asks for it, there will be no danger.”

“Zizhi Tongjian” Volume VII

In 213 BC, the Qin Dynasty ordered the burning of hundreds of books, of which Confucian books were the focus. Li Si wrote: “some dare to talk about poetry and abandon books.” Anyone who dares to talk about Confucian classics such as “Poems” and “books” will be exposed to the streets.

This is a big crisis for the Confucius family, the spokesman of Confucianism. Chen Yu, a member of the anti Qin resistance organization and a member of the state of Wei, said to Kongzi, a descendant of Confucius: “old Kong, Qin is now going to destroy all the books of the former king, and your books are the first to bear the brunt.” Facing the concerns of his friends, kongzhi was very calm and said, “what I do is useless knowledge. It is my friends who know me. The Qin Dynasty is not my friend at all. What is the danger for me? My job is to hide these cultural classics and wait for those who need them to appear. At that time, there will be nothing to worry about.”

Kongzhi had a clear grasp of the safe distance between himself and the Qin Dynasty, and the standard of grasp was “useless” and “non friends”. Kongzhi disguised his knowledge as “useless”. Qin could not use it if he wanted to. It was harmless for people and animals if Qin didn’t use it. The first emperor of Qin didn’t want to quarrel with those “useless” things. Therefore, although the imperial court was burning Confucian books, kongzhi was able to hide them in the walls of his home, which showed that the search of the Qin Dynasty was not rigorous and attentive enough, because he felt that it was “useless”.

However, the Qin Dynasty thought that Kongzi was “useless” because he didn’t understand and didn’t understand it, that is, the so-called “non friends”. Kongzhi was not willing to be understood by the Qin Dynasty. Instead, he just wanted to save himself. The more he was understood, the more dangerous it might be. In fact, the so-called “entrapment scholars” are mostly magicians and alchemists like Lu Sheng and Hou Sheng who like to make friends with Qinshihuang.

Because he grasped these two points, he was able to swim within a safe distance in the era of great changes in the history and culture of the Qin Dynasty. However, kongzhi was not a person who was greedy for life and afraid of death. On the one hand, he ordered his disciple shusuntong to actively enter the WTO. Once Chen Sheng and Wu Guang came out, he also bravely threw himself into the torrent of peasant uprising, and finally practiced his historical mission with blood and life.

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