An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Wu Bei 伍被

Sep 16, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Wu Bei 伍被 (d. 122 BCE) was a high minister of the early Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE).

He hailed from the region of Chu 楚 (modern Hubei) and is said to have been a descendant of the famous minister Wu Zixu 伍子胥. Wu Bei served as an inner gentleman (zhonglang 中郎) of the Prince of Huainan 淮南, Liu An 劉安. The Prince had a lot of retainers, of which Wu Bei was one of the most important. Prince An was so impressed by his intelligent suggestions in his memorials that he once incarcerated Wu Bei's parents and forced him to memoralize for their release.

During the rebellion of the Seven Princes, Liu An considered becoming their ally against the central government, yet Wu Bei analysed the situation and warned the Prince that a rebellion would in any case end in a disaster. Liu An give up this plan, at least for a while. Under the reign of Emperor Wu 漢武帝 (r. 141-87 BCE) he planned a new rebellion, but the plan was reveiled and Liu An had to commit suicide. Wu Bei was incarcerated and soon executed as on of Liu An's advisors.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1996). Hanshu cidian 漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 253.