Encyclopedia: Su Qin

Su Qin; Su Ch‘in; 蘇秦

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Su Qin 蘇秦

Lived: 380–284 BC

None Available

Served: Warring States, Historical

Su Qin was an influential political strategist during the Warring States Period.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Su Ch‘in
Simplified Chinese: 苏秦
Cantonese (Yale): Sou Cheun
Cantonese (Jyutpin): Sou Ceon

Birthplace: Chengxuan Village, Luoyang
(Present day Henan Province)

Family and Relationships

Zhang Yi (See Also)

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 43, 45

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Collaborative Works

Su Qin (380–284 BC), was an influential political strategist during the Warring States Period of Chinese history (476–220 BC). He was born in Chengxuan Village, Luoyang in present day Henan Province. According to legend Su Qin was a disciple of Gui Guzi (鬼谷子), the founder of the School of Diplomacy (縱横家). One theory of this school, Vertical Alliance, promoted an alliance of the other Chinese states against the state of Qin. The opposing theory, Horizontal Alliance (合橫) supported an alliance with the State of Qin.

After finishing his studies with Gui Guzi, Su Qin travelled for several years and on his return lamented that “My wife doesn’t recognize me as her husband, my sister-in-law doesn’t recognize me as her brother-in-law, and my parents don’t recognize me as their son!”. All these misfortunes he blamed on the state of Qin and he thereafter shut himself in his room to study. Often sleepy from long hours of study, if Su Qin felt himself falling asleep he would stab himself in the thigh with a sharp instrument. This practice gave rise to part of a Chinese idiom or “chengyu” (悬梁刺股) which means “to study assiduously and tirelessly.”

At his most brilliant Su Qin persuaded the leaders of the six kingdoms of Qi (齊/齐), Chu (楚), Yan (燕), Han (韓/韩), Zhao (趙/赵) and Wei (魏) to unite against the Qin state (秦) through the use of his splendid rhetoric and thereafter wore robes decorated with the insignia of the six states. The allies of the Vertical Alliance advanced on the Qin state but were easily defeated due to internal discord between the former enemies.

One theory suggests that he and Zhang Yi mutually reinforced each others viewpoints in order to achieve their personal goals.

Source: branched from Wikipedia for local editing.



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April 10, 2023