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Fu Yue
Issue time:2019-11-07

Fu Yue(傅说) was the minister of King Wu Ding of Shang Dynasty. Because he was engaged in wall building in Fu Yan (now the east of Pinglu, Shanxi Province), and then was used by Wu Ding, he took Fu as his surname.

The earliest sage in Chinese history was not Confucius or Guan Yu, but it was Fu Yue. According to historical records, he was born more than 800 years earlier than Confucius, and was named Saint more than 2000 years earlier.

What’s more, he was called a saint when he was still alive before he made any achievements.

Before Fu Yue entered politics, he was a slave and worked hard in Fu Yan, the junction of Yuan and Guo. The stream of the mountain broke the road down, so the slaves had to build the road and walls. Although he was talented, he could not put to good use.

King Wu Ding of Shang Dynasty was a king who aroused all his efforts to make the state prosperous. Before he came to power, he used to live among common people and had a better understanding of the actual situation in society. After taking office, he did not manage the government for three years, and the state affairs were all managed by Jia Zai(家宰). He observed and thought about the strategy of reviving Shang. Later, Fu Yue was found among the slaves and was appointed as Xiang Guo(相国).

When Fu Yue was serving as Xiang Guo, he assisted Wu Ding in reforming politics vigorously and made nobles and civilians have no complaints, which was called “the great rule of Yin” and “the revival of Yin”. The dynasty of Wu Ding became the peak of the late Shang Dynasty.

There are not many words and deeds about how Fu Yue, a generation of famous prime minister, managed the state and made Yin and Shang prosperous for future generations to learn from. However, there are many legends about him.

As for the legend of Fu Yue and Wu Ding’s meeting, Kong Yingda's Shang Shu Zheng YI(《尚书正义》) of the Tang Dynasty quoted a passage of Huang Fumi in the Western Jin Dynasty as saying that Wu Ding dreamed that God had given him a wise man, who was wearing slave clothes and said his name was Fu Yue, was doing hard labor. When Wu Ding woke up, he thought this was a good omen to get a helper to govern the state. After daybreak, he told the officials about this dream, but no one believed it. Wu Ding asked people to paint the image of the man in his dreams and looked for him all over the state. As last, he found Fu Yue in Fu Yan.

The legend about Fu Yue's political experience appeared in Wei Gu Wen Shuo Ming(《伪古文尚书》) in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. There were three parts in Shuo Ming(《说命》). The first part described the process of Fu Yue’s first meeting with Wu Ding and how he persuaded Wu Ding to accept remonstrance modestly. The second part described Fu Yue’s strategy of governing the state. The third part was the mutual encouragement of the king and the minister.

Although these legends are not true history, they can reflect Fu's position in people's minds as a statesman in ancient times.