Open main menu

A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Ch'ên P'ing

240 Ch'ên P'ing 陳平 (T. 孺子). Died B.C. 178. A native of 陽武 Yang-wu in modern Honan, whose family was exceedingly poor. He himself, however, was so tall and handsome that a wealthy man of the neighbourhood gave him a granddaughter who had already been married five times, all her husbands having died shortly after marriage; "for beauty like his," argued the old gentleman, "cannot be long associated with poverty." Being appointed to manage the distribution of the sacrificial meats at the local altar to the spirits of the land, he conducted the business with such impartiality that the elders wished he could be appointed to manage the empire. "Were I to manage the empire," said he, "it would be just as with this meat." Entering the service of Prince 咎 Chiu of Wei, he became Chamberlain; but fell a victim to intrigue, and took refuge under the standard of Hsiang Chi, who advanced him to high posts, and ennobled him as Prince for his reduction of the Yin State. But when Liu Pang's forces succeeded in their raid upon Yin, Ch'ên P'ing's life was in danger, and once more he fled to the enemy's camp, this time to become the trusted counsellor of the House of Han until his death. He is known as the author of Six Wonderful Plans, as follows: — 1. By bribery he managed to destroy the confidence of Hsiang Chi in Fan Ts'êng and his other counsellors, B.C. 205. 2. By substituting coarse herbs for the customary ox presented to envoys, when he received the envoy of Hsiang Chi, he gave the latter to understand that an envoy from Fan Ts'êng would have been welcomed with full honours, thus leading Hsiang Chi to distrust Fan Ts'êng's loyalty, B.C. 204. 3. By means of a woman he raised the siege of Jung-yang (but see Chi Hsin). 4. By four times pressing Liu Pang's foot he caused him to create Han Hsin (q. v.) Prince of Ch'i. 5. By Liu Pang's pretended pleasure-trip to the lake of 雲夢 Yün-mêng, he succeeded in making Han Hsin prisoner. 6. By means of movable puppets, — said to have been the origin of Punch and Judy, — one of which represented a beantifal girl, he induced the Hun chieftain who was besieging Liu Pang in 白登 Po-têng to allow the latter to escape; for which he was made Marquis of 曲逆 Ch'ü-ni (sometimes read Ch'ü4-yü4). He became sole Minister in 179, and is ranked as one of the Three Heroes (see Chang Liang).