Chinese myths and legend: The story of referring to a deer as a horse


During Qin II, Prime Minister Zhao Gao was ambitious and planned to usurp the throne day and night. But how many people could listen to him and how many opposed him, he had no bottom in his heart. So he thought of a way to try his authority and find out who dared to oppose him.

One day when he went to the court, Zhao Gao asked someone to bring a deer and said to Qin II with a smile: “Your Majesty, I present you a good horse.” Qin II looked and thought: where is this horse? It’s clearly a deer! He smiled and said to Zhao Gao, “the prime minister made a mistake. Here is a deer. How can you say it’s a horse?” Zhao Gao said without changing his face and jumping his heart: “please see clearly, your majesty, this is indeed a thousand mile horse.” Qin II looked at the deer again and said suspiciously, “how can a horse have horns on its head?” As soon as Zhao Gao turned around, pointed to the ministers and said loudly, “Your Majesty, if you don’t believe me, you can ask the ministers.”

The story of referring to a deer as a horse

The ministers were overwhelmed by Zhao Gao’s nonsense and whispered in private: what’s the name of Zhao Gao? It’s a deer or a horse, isn’t it obvious! When they saw Zhao Gao’s sinister smile on his face, his two eyes staring at Zhao Gao in turn, his sinister smile on his face, and his two eyes staring at everyone in turn, the ministers suddenly understood his intention.

Some timid people with a sense of justice bow their heads and dare not speak. They are sorry for their conscience for telling lies, and they are afraid of being hurt by Zhao Gao in the future. Some honest people insist that it is a manual rather than a horse. Some of the cunning people who usually followed Zhao Gao immediately supported Zhao Gao’s statement and said to the emperor, “this is indeed a thousand mile horse!”

Afterwards, Zhao Gao punished those honest ministers who did not obey him one after another through various means, and even copied and beheaded them all over the door.

Referring to a deer as a horse means: it is a metaphor to deliberately confuse black and white and confuse right and wrong.

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