Legend has it that Bo Yi and Shu Qi were two sons of the ruler of state Gu Zhu at the end of Shang Dynasty.
Their father wanted to set up his youngest son, Shu Qi, as his heir but, when he died, Shu Qi yielded in favor of his eldest brother Bo Yi. Bo Yi replied that it had been their father’s wish that Shu Qi should inherit the throne and so he departed from the state. Shu Qi like wise, being unwilling to accept the rule, went away.
Bo Yi and Shu Qi originally planed to follow king Wen, the ruler of state Zhou, but when they reached his kingdom, the king had died and his son, king Wu, was marching east to attack the emperor of the Shang dynasty.
Soon king Wu conquered the capital of Shang and the Emperor killed himself. The people of Shang honored king Wu as its ruler, but Bo Yi and Shu Qi were filled with outrage and considered it unrighteous to eat the grain of Chou. They fled and hid on Shouyang Mountain, where they tried to live by gathering ferns to eat. When they were on the point of starvation, they composed a song, in which there was a sentence reading: replacing violence with violence, the new ruler is not different from the old one.
After their death, they were thought of as the models of faithful minister by the later generations and their names were widely spread until now.
Background and Writer Comment:
This Chinese idiom story is from is from Si Ma Qian's "The Historical Records".
The idiom of , as a derogatory term, is often used to describe the case in which a tyrant is replaced by another.