The Feast at Hong Gate-鸿门宴

Xiang Yu hurriedly arrived at Hong Gate outside Xianyang, facing Liu Bang’s camp stationed at Ba. Just then, a mid-level officer from Liu Bang’s army rushed to inform Xiang Yu, claiming that Liu Bang harbored intentions of proclaiming himself king and forbade his subordinates from killing the Qin King Ziying. Enraged, Xiang Yu vowed to capture Liu Bang.

Upon hearing this news, someone within Xiang Yu’s camp panicked. He was Xiang Yu’s uncle, named Xiang Bo. Xiang Bo had a close relationship with Liu Bang’s strategist Zhang Liang and had once been saved by him. Concerned about Zhang Liang’s safety upon hearing of Xiang Yu’s intention to attack Liu Bang, Xiang Bo secretly rode his horse to find Zhang Liang and urged him to escape. However, Zhang Liang, committed to protecting Liu Bang, decided to take Xiang Bo to meet Liu Bang instead.

Upon hearing Zhang Liang’s account of events, Liu Bang turned pale with fear. He reassured Xiang Bo of his lack of ambition to become king and explained that he had been misled by wicked individuals. Realizing that defeat was imminent if war broke out, Liu Bang sought Xiang Bo’s assistance, hoping for a chance to resolve the situation. Liu Bang respectfully addressed Xiang Bo as his elder brother and proposed a marital alliance between their families, expressing admiration for Xiang Yu. Convinced by Liu Bang’s sincerity, Xiang Bo agreed to dissuade Xiang Yu from attacking and instructed Liu Bang to personally visit Xiang Yu the next day.

The next morning, Liu Bang, accompanied by his attendants and a few soldiers, arrived at Hong Gate. Leaving his soldiers outside the camp, Liu Bang entered alone with his attendants. Surprised to see Liu Bang, Xiang Yu felt somewhat taken aback but refrained from expressing anger. Instead, he invited everyone into his tent and ordered the servants to serve wine and food.

During the banquet, Liu Bang modestly explained his intention of capturing Xianyang to Xiang Yu, claiming it was to clear the obstacles for the subsequent troops. He pleaded with Xiang Yu not to believe the slanderous words of malicious individuals. Xiang Yu, feeling guilty for his misunderstanding of Liu Bang, was further swayed by Xiang Bo’s intercession. Overcome with remorse, Xiang Yu gradually abandoned his thoughts of killing Liu Bang. However, Fan Zeng, seated nearby, attempted to remind Xiang Yu of his initial decision, but Xiang Yu ignored him.

Fearing for the worst, Liu Bang seized an opportunity to leave the banquet under the pretext of using the restroom. Zhang Liang and Fan Kuai followed suit, and Zhang Liang suggested that Liu Bang return to Ba while he stayed to deal with Xiang Yu. Taking Zhang Liang’s advice, Liu Bang left two gifts he had brought with him, intended for Xiang Yu and Fan Zeng, with Zhang Liang to present on his behalf.

Estimating that Liu Bang was not far from Ba, Zhang Liang calmly entered the tent. Seeing that Liu Bang had not returned, Xiang Yu was surprised and asked what was happening. Zhang Liang explained that Liu Bang had left earlier, claiming he had drunk too much wine and did not want to behave improperly in front of Xiang Yu. He also mentioned the two gifts Liu Bang had prepared and presented them to Xiang Yu and Fan Zeng.

Upon seeing the gifts, Fan Zeng flew into a rage and attempted to attack the one intended for Fan Zeng. It shattered on the ground, leaving Fan Zeng lamenting the future consequences of Liu Bang’s rise to power.

With his composure and the assistance of others, Liu Bang narrowly escaped death at the hands of Xiang Yu, further solidifying his resolve to eliminate Xiang Yu and seize control of the realm. Subsequently, Xiang Yu captured Xianyang, but instead of pacifying the people, he massacred Qin King Ziying and nearly all the nobles, officials, and generals. The Chu forces looted the palace and set it ablaze, burning for days. Xiang Yu declared the Chu Emperor and ennobled the generals who participated in the anti-Qin war as kings, including Liu Bang as the King of Han and Ying Bu as the King of Jiujiang. Each king was assigned a territory, totaling eighteen in all. Xiang Yu proclaimed himself the Hegemon-King of Western Chu, established his capital at Pengcheng, and became the leader of the kings.


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