皇帝 – Chinese philosophy and culture

huángdì 皇帝

Emperor

中国帝制时代最高统治者之称号。源于上古传说中的“三皇五帝”。“三皇”说法很多,或说伏羲氏、神农氏、燧人氏,或说伏羲氏、神农氏、女娲;“五帝”通常指黄帝、颛顼(zhuānxū)、帝喾(kù)、唐尧、虞舜。其实他们只是远古部落或部落联盟的首领,只是因为他们都有超凡的功绩(如伏羲教人渔猎,创制八卦)而被尊称为“皇”或“帝”(从字源上说,“皇”有美大之义,“帝”有明察精审之义)。秦王嬴政(前259—前210)统一中国后,认为自己的功德超过了三皇五帝,于是创“皇帝”称号,自称“始皇帝”。从此,“皇帝”一词成为传统中国最高统治者的称呼。

The supreme ruler of imperial China was called huangdi, meaning “emperor.” The origin of this word is a legend of ancient sovereigns known as the three huang (皇 sovereigns) and five di (帝 emperors). It is said that the three huang were Fuxi, Shennong and Suiren, while others identify them as Fuxi, Shennong and Nüwa. The five di are usually said to be Huangdi, Zhuanxu, Ku, Yao, and Shun. In fact, they were just leaders of tribes or tribal alliances in remote antiquity. As they had unique contributions (Fuxi, for instance, taught people hunting and fishing), they were honored with the titles huang or di. Huang originally meant august and great, and di indicated shrewdness and alertness. After Ying Zheng (259-210 BC), the king of Qin, unified China, he viewed his achievements as being greater than those of the three huang and five di. Therefore he put huang and di together and called himself “the First Huangdi (Emperor).” From then on, huangdi became the title of the highest ruler in China.

引例 Citation:

◎王初并天下,自以为德兼三皇,功过五帝,乃更号曰“皇帝”。(《资治通鉴·秦纪二·始皇帝二十六年》)

(秦王嬴政刚刚统一天下,认为自己的功德超过了三皇五帝,于是更改君主的称号为“皇帝”。)

As soon as he unified the whole country, Ying Zheng, King of the State of Qin, called himself Huangdi (emperor) because he believed his accomplishments were far greater than those of the three huang and five di. (History as a Mirror)

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