Han Fei was jealous of slander but was killed by Qinshihuang

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Han Fei, a Korean in the Warring States period, was the son of the Korean Prince (that is, the monarch clan). He is a famous philosopher, thinker, political commentator and essayist in ancient China, and a master of legalist thought. Later generations call him “Hanzi” or “Hanfeizi”. Han Fei stutters, is not good at talking, but is good at writing. Han Fei and Lisi were both students of Xunqing. He was erudite, talented, and quick thinking. Lisi thought he was inferior. Han Fei wrote articles with great momentum, which could be called a big stroke at that time. Those who have read his articles hardly fail to admire his talent and learning. His works are many, mainly collected in Hanfeizi. Ying Zheng, king of Qin, read Han Fei’s article and highly appreciated it. He said to the left and right, “if I see this man traveling with him, I will die without hating him.” It’s too late to meet. However, after Han Fei came to the state of Qin, instead of being put in prison as the king of Qin said, he was soon executed. Why on earth was Han Fei executed by the appreciating king of Qin?

The most popular saying is that Han Fei died of LISS’ slander. According to the records in the historical records, Lao Tzu’s biographies of Han Fei, the king of Qin was very happy to get Han Fei, but still did not put him in a position of importance. Out of envy for Han Fei’s talent, Qin ministers Lisi and Yaojia slandered Han Fei in front of the king of Qin. The king of Qin, like all tyrants in history, only did the right and wrong things. On the issue of Han Fei, he just did the wrong thing: ordered Han Fei to be put in prison. Soon, Han Fei, who was full of experience, committed suicide by taking poison in prison, and it was Lisi who gave him the poison. In addition, the historical records of the first emperor of Qin also recorded that “Han Fei sent Qin, Qin used lismou, stayed in Africa, and died in Yunyang”. According to Sima Qian, Han Fei died of Lisi’s jealousy.

However, some people are skeptical of this view. The reason is that when the king of Qin read Han Fei’s article and thought that “it would be better to see this person and travel with him than to die”, it was his fellow disciple Lisi who recommended Han Fei to him. If Lisi was jealous of the virtuous and talented, why bother? In addition, Han Xin was imprisoned and killed, not when the king of Qin put him in important position, but when he had not been trusted. According to the situation at that time, Han Fei did not pose any threat to Lisi, and there was no envy of his talent. After Qin II succeeded to the throne, even when he was put into prison, Lisi repeatedly quoted “hanfeiziyan” to persuade him to practice Hanfei’s art, which is enough to prove that Lisi has always respected Han Fei, so the theory of hidden harm is untenable.

In addition, Liu Xiang of the Western Han Dynasty said in the Warring States policy that Chu, Yan, Dai and other countries wanted to unite against Qin. The king of Qin negotiated with his ministers, and Yao Jia volunteered to send to the four countries. Yao Jia’s envoy disintegrated the joint action of the four countries, and received a great reward after returning to Qin. Han Fei was dissatisfied with this and went to the king of Qin to speak ill of Yao Jia. At first, he attacked Yao Jia and bribed the kings of the four countries with the treasures of the state of Qin, which was “to hand over the power of the king to the vassal states with the right of the state”; Then he exposed Yao Jia’s background, saying that he was a “world supervisor, a robber of the Liang Dynasty, and a courtier of the Zhao Dynasty”. He believed that it was not good for “Li Qun Chen” to reward such people. The king of Qin called Yao Jia to question him, and Yao Jia answered him like a stream. It is said that it is for the benefit of Qin to bribe the four kings with treasure. If it is “self surrender”, why should he return to the state of Qin? He also made no secret of his origin, and cited celebrities such as Jiang Taigong, Guan Zhong and Bai Lixi as examples to illustrate that a person’s humble origin and bad reputation did not hinder his loyalty to the “Ming Lord”. He advised the king of Qin not to listen to the slander, so the king of Qin thought that Han Fei had slandered Yao Jia for his own benefit, so he ordered Han Fei to be killed. According to this statement, Han Fei seems to have taken the blame for himself, because he was jealous of others and finally hurt himself.

However, some people pointed out the shortcomings of this view. First, the book Warring States policy is quite complicated. Although it has been edited by Liu Xiang, it is still full of mistakes. Sima Qian was very serious and prudent in the identification of historical materials. He used more than a dozen materials from the Warring States policy in the historical records, but he didn’t use the content of “four countries in one” in the Qin policy. It can be seen that the authenticity of this paragraph is questionable. Second, Han Fei “eats for the population, can’t say it”. When he was in Korea, he just “admonished the king of Korea with books”. Why did he become so unconventional after he arrived in the state of Qin that he became angry with the king of Qin? Therefore, this view that Han Fei’s death was his own fault is not reliable.

In the historical records, there are also several articles about the death of Han Fei, such as the chronicle of the first emperor of Qin, the chronology of the six kingdoms and the Han family. However, they are all skimming the water and a few words are not enough to constitute a complete statement. At most, they can only explain that Han Fei really died at the hands of the Qin people. The cause of Han Fei’s death is therefore in confusion. Is it an innocent victim? Or is it your fault? Or is there another reason? We can only wait for further research.

One thought on “Han Fei was jealous of slander but was killed by Qinshihuang

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