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Lü Buwei: The dead regard a myriad of years as the blink of an eye

Jmhullot Terracotta_Army _View_of_Pit_1
The dead regard a myriad of years as the blink of an eye. A man of the greatest longevity does not live more than a hundred; one of average longevity not more than sixty. If one employs the point of view of those who live a hundred or sixty years to make plans for those whose time is limitless, the feelings inevitably do not coincide.
The Annals of Lü Buwei (compiled about 240 BCE), "Record of the Beginning of Winter. Dying peacefully." Translated by John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel.  Lü Buwei (291–235 BCE) was the prime minister and regent for the king who became the First Emperor of China (the ancient historian Sima Qian said he was the king's real father, but modern historians doubt this). Lü was a great patron of scholars and ordered these annals compiled as a compendium of all of their knowledge.

This chapter inveighs against the construction of massive, costly tombs, which the writers argue benefit the living, not the dead they are supposed to honor. Lü fell afoul of the emperor at about the time of the publication of the
Annals and he was forced to commit suicide. The First Emperor's tomb may be the grandest ever built.
世之為丘壟也,其高大若山,其樹之若林,其設闕庭、為宮 、造賓阼也若都邑,以此觀世示富則可矣,以此為死則不可也。夫死,其視萬歲猶一瞚也。人之壽,久之不過百,中壽不過六十。以百與六十為無窮者之慮,其情必不相當矣。
Photo by JMHullot, Wikimedia Commons. This army of the First Emperor's lifesize terracotta warriors, originally colorfully painted, was discovered 3.5 kilometers away from the main tomb, which has yet to be excavated.


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