Chinese alchemists knew liquid mercury as the only substance that could dissolve gold. To the ancient mind, that meant mercury had power that might prolong life. However, the human body cannot absorb pure mercury so the Chinese alchemists made a compound the emperor could digest.
As the mercury is absorbed, it slowly destroyed his nervous system and brain. Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi becomes aggressive, argumentative and paranoid. He goes into hiding. Anyone revealing his location is killed. His kidneys’ are failing and he starts talking to the gods.
Thirty-five years after becoming the king of Qin at thirteen, he goes on another Imperial tour. But this time, he does not see the nation that is bankrupt and near famine. All the emperor can think about is living forever.
He’s told that giant fish guards the island of the immortals. The emperor dreams that he is a sea god who will kill the giant fish. Near the end of 210 BC, he visits the ocean hunting the giant fish with a crossbow while wading in the surf.
His advisors plan what to do with China once the emperor dies. On the return to the capital, the emperor falls ill and the Imperial convoy stops.
To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.