When the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty died, Zhao Gao helped Hu Hai, the emperor's 18th son, become the second emperor by faking the first emperor's words. Zhao Gao was then designated as chengxiang (the highest official, only below the emperor). But Zhao Gao was not satisfied and wanted to become the emperor himself.
He was afraid other officials would object and decided to carry out a test. One day, he asked a deer be brought to the emperor, pointed at the deer and said to the emperor in front of all senior officials: "This is a horse." The emperor said: "You are mistaken. This is a deer."
Zhao Gao then asked other senior officials loudly:"Is this a deer or a horse?" Some officials were afraid and dared not to speak up. Some insisted that was a deer. Others followed Zhao Gao to flatter him and agreed that was a horse.
Soon after this, the officials who insisted it was a deer were all murdured.
Later, the four-word idiom Zhi Lu Wei Ma was used to describe behavior that purposefully distorts facts.
[This page is
To return to Eric Rasmusen's weblog, click http://www.rasmusen.org/w/0.htm.