Xi Shi washing chothes.
The state of
Yue had a much stronger and vicious neighbor, the state of Wu, which had been
fighting all its surrounding states for supremacy. After the conquest of Yue,
Fu Chai, the King of Wu, imprisoned Gou Jian, the king of Yue and made him a
Back from his
imprisonment, King Gou Jian slept on brushwood and tasted gall before each meal
to remind himself of the humiliation he and his state had suffered. He wanted
revenge. His ministers Fan Li and Wen Zhong recommended that they be fully prepared
before any attempt for a retaliation. Wen Zhong suggested eight strategies to
Gou Jian. One of them was to use sex as a weapon against the lascivious king
Gou Jian commissioned
his Prime Minister Fan Li to search for beautiful women, to send as a tribute
to King Fu chai of Wu. Xishi and Zheng Dan were selected for the mission. Prime
Minister Fan Li escorted them to the state of Wu.
They bribed their
way to the court of Fu Chai. Bewitched by the beauty of Xi Shi and Zheng Dan,
Fu Chai forgot all about his state affairs and alienated himself from his loyal
Prime Minister Wu Zixu, who was against his taking the two concubines. Eventually,
Xi Shi and Zheng Dan gave Fu Chai enough reasons to question Wu Zixu’s
loyalty and him killed with his own sword....
Text and translation
by Haiwang Yuan, © copyright 2003
Last update: October 4, 2003