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Bo Pi 伯嚭

Oct 20, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Bo Pi 伯嚭 (d. 473 BCE), also written Bai Xi 白喜 or Bo Xi 帛喜, courtesy name Ziyu 子餘, was a chief minister in the state of Wu 吳 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). He hailed from the state of Chu 楚 and was the grandson of grand master (dafu 大夫) Bo Zhouli 伯州犂, who had been executed by the king of Chu.

Bo Pi fled to the state of Wu, where he was welcomed by King Helü 闔閭 (r. 514-496 BCE) with his original position of grand master. As a native from Chu, he was emplyed as a military commander for King Helü's campaigns against that state. Later on he was appointed chief counsellor (taizai 太宰) under King Fucha 夫差 (r. 495-473). He is therefore also known as "Counsellor Pi" Taizai Pi 太宰嚭. Bo Pi had to share command with the famous military strategist Sun Wu 孫武 and with Wu Zixu 伍子胥.

It is said that during the highly successful campaign against the state of Yue 越 Bo Pi received bribes from the nobleman Wen Zhong 文種 of Yue to persuade King Fucha to spare the life of King Goujian 勾踐 (r. 495- 465). Bo Pi also slandered his competitor for power, Wu Zixu, who was forced to commit suicide. When the fate of the state of Wu turned and Yue conquered Wu, Bo Pi was captured and executed, yet some sources say that the was given a government post in Yue.

Sources:
Huang Huixian 黄惠賢, ed. (1997). Ershiwu shi renming da cidian 二十五史人名大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 6.
Yi Xingguo 衣興國, ed. (1988). Shiyong Zhongguo mingren cidian 實用中國名人辭典 (Changchun: Jilin wenshi chubanshe), 59.
Zhang Weizhi 張撝之, Shen Qiwei 沈起煒, Liu Dezhong 劉德重, ed. (1999). Zhongguo lidai renming da cidian 中國歷代人名大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1098.