An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Wen Zhong 文種

Oct 25, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Wen Zhong 文種, also called Bo Qin 伯禽 (not Boqin, duke of Lu 魯公伯禽!), courtesy name Shaoqin 少禽 or Ziqin 子禽, was a high minister in the state of Yue 越 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

He actually hailed from the state of Chu 楚 and was magistrate (ling 令) of Wan 宛 (modern Nanyang 南陽, Henan). When he became acquainted with Fan Li 范蠡, both decided to leave Chu and offer their service to King Goujian 句踐 (r. 495-465) of Yue.

When King Fucha 夫差 (r. 495-473) of Wu 吳 won the battle of Fujiao 夫椒 (near modern Wuxian 吳縣, Jiangsu) in 494 against the army of Yue, King Goujian withdrew to Mt. Guiji 會稽 (near modern Shaoxing 紹興, Zhejiang). Together with Fan Li, Wen Zhong suggested to King Goujian of Yue to offer King Fucha submission. Both were entrusted to bring the King of Wu Goujian's submission.

This was only possible because they bribed the powerful counsellor of Wu, Bo Pi 伯嚭. Bo Pi thereupon persuaded King Fucha to accept the peace rather then annihilating the state of Yue. King Goujian and Fan Li stayed in Wu as a hostage for a while. Wen Zhong during that time reigned the desolated country of Yue. More than a year later the King returned and, with the help of Fan Li, strengthed the army and made Yue a strong country, able to take revenge and destroy the country of Wu.

Fan Li later on retired from his post and began a private career in the state of Qi 齊. Wen Zhong was likewise later disappointed by the character of King Goujian who attempted becoming a new hegemonial lord. Fan Li suggested to him to quit servive, and Wen Zhong offered his retirement by feigning illness, but he was slandered and ordered to commit suicide.

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