The Fans of Stars in the Ancient Times

Nowadays, all stars have their fans. Especially in the “Super Girl’s Voice” (超级女声) singing contest of recent years, we can see the crazy actions of fans. The fans followed their stars everywhere, and they cheered for the victory of their stars or wept for the failure of their stars. Li Yuchun (李宇春), the winner of “Super Girl’s Voice 2005”, even made the cover of the Time Magazine as “Asia’s Heroes 2005”, because American editors thought that “Super Girl's Voice” was run democratically. Are fans the result of the development of a society? Of course they are not. In ancient China, there were also many fans that were crazy for their stars, and what these fans admired are the handsome appearance, graceful behaviors and great learning of the stars. Well, let’s read several stories.

The great poetry book “the Classic of Poems” (诗经) has a poem called “Shu Goes to Hunt” (叔于田). This poem was written by a poet of the Zheng (郑) State (where was in modern-day Henan Province) for praising Gongshu Duan (共叔段). Gongshu Duan was the younger brother of Zheng Zhuang-Gong (郑庄公). Zheng Zhuang-Gong was a very famous monarch who dared to fight against the Heaven-Son (the honorific title of the kings of the Zhou Dynasty). The fief of Duan (段) was the city Jing (京), so he was called “Taishu of the Jing City” (京城大叔) (“Shu”[叔] was used to call a person who was the third child of their family. “Taishu”[大叔] was the respectful form of address.). Duan was a handsome and strong man, and he was good at shooting, swordsmanship and driving a chariot. The three things were the necessary skills of a warrior. At that martial time, people respected warriors. So Duan became the star of the Zheng’s people. Every time when Duan went to hunt, the people of his feoff would crowd in the street to see the handsome young noble. The poem “Shu Goes to Hunt” said that Duan was really a handsome man, and he was unassuming and benevolent. Women all complained that their husbands were not excellent as Duan. The young man also thought he was more excellent than his older brother, so he was preparing to rebel against his older brother, but the astute monarch suddenly ordered his army to attack his younger brother. At the critical moment, the soldiers of Jing didn’t support Duan, so Duan and some loyal followers had to run away to the Wei (卫) state for refuge. But the people of the Zheng State didn’t forget Duan. When Duan died, the Zheng’s government gave the title “Gong” (“Gong”[共] means “deference”[恭] because Duan was an unassuming and benevolent man) to him. So Duan was called “Gongshu Duan” by later people.

The Jin (晋) Dynasty (from A.D. 265 to A.D. 420) was a dynasty that people respected beauty. Pan Yue (潘岳) was a famous handsome and elegant man. In his youth, he often took a slingshot and went to the environs of Luoyang (洛阳, the capital of the Western Jin [西晋] Dynasty) by a carriage. On the way, the young women who saw him all swarmed hand in hand round him. And they presented fresh fruits to Pan Yue. So every time when Pan Yue returned home, his carriage was full of fresh fruits. Zuo Si (左思), a famous but ugly-looking writer, heard the news and thought his wisdom also could attract women. So Zuo Si purposely went to the environs as Pan Yue did. On the way, Zuo Si really attracted many women, but they all threw broken tiles and pebbles at him. So Zuo Si had to return home at once, but his carriage had been full of broken tiles and pebbles.

In the Jin Dynasty, Wei Jie (卫玠) was also a handsome and brilliant man. His uncle (his mother’s brother) Wang Ji (王济) was handsome, but when he met Wei Jie, he often sighed and said, “A bright pearl is beside me, and I look small.” When Wei Jie was a child, one day he rode on a carriage which was drawn by white goats and appeared on the street of Luoyang, people all asked each other, “Where is the child who looks like a white jade from?” So Wei Jie was called “the person as a white jade” (璧人). In the Yongjia’s years (“Yongjia”[永嘉] was the title of the years when Jin Huai-Emperor [晋怀帝] was on the throne from A.D.307 to 313. A year-title [年号] was used to express good wishes), foreign nations suddenly invaded China and they seized the capital Luoyang and the whole north. Large numbers of northern Chinese people didn’t want to be the slaves of foreign nations, and migrated to the south with the officials of the Jin Empire. The new capital was chosen to Jiankang (建康) (modern-day Nanjing [南京]). So many famous men came to Jiankang, and the people of Jiankang were very zealous to see their stars. Wei Jie was very famed for his handsome appearance and erudition. He first arrived at Yuzhang (豫章) (modern-day Nanchang [南昌]), and the people of Yuzhang gave him a warm welcome. And then he went to Jiankang. The people of Jiankang heard Wei Jie arrived at their city, and felt very excited. They all swarmed round Wei Jie and wanted to hold his hands. Wei Jie of course felt excited, too. He tried to hold hands with more people. These years Wei Jie had a very emaciated body because of ill health. The day was the hottest day in that summer. At last he fainted because of being overtired and heatstroke. Later he died with worsened health, while he was only 27 years old.

In the ancient times, there weren’t TV sets, radios and newspapers, but people also knew the news of their stars very fast. Ancient people also were crazy fans for their stars. They were also likable people who followed fashions.

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