13 Inventors Foiled By Their Own Inventions

Li Si

Li Si is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 13 Inventors Foiled By Their Own Inventions

Photo: user uploaded image


The Five Pains or Punishments


Li Si was the Prime Minister of the state of Qin in present-day China during a tumultuous period between 246 BC and 208 BC. (In 221 BC, the state of Qin took control of China, thus becoming the Qin Dynasty.) Li Si himself was very influential in Qin during this time, and is said to be the mind behind some of the more effective techniques used to seize control of other Chinese states.


Li Si was on some hardcore Game of Thrones shit. He was frequently involved in complex political schemes and machinations, he hung out with an influential eunuch and he came up with a series of ridiculously over-the-top punishments that would make any Lannister proud. The goal was to not only punish criminals or law-breakers, but to humiliate and dishonor them publicly.

Specifically, Li Si’s “Five Pains” or “Five Punishments” consisted of:

– Cutting off the victim’s nose
– Cutting off the victim’s foot
– Cutting off the victim’s hand
– Castrating the victim
– Cutting the victim in half at the waist

#FirstImperialDynastyProblems, amirite, guys?


Think I was making up the Game of Thrones connections? See if the untimely demise of Li Si strikes you as George R. R. Martin-esque…

So the first Qin Emperor – Qin Shi Huang – died at the age of 49 while traveling away from the capital. His son Fusuwas next in line for the throne, but Li Si and his favorite eunuch, Zhao Gao, feared that this succession would cause them to lose Most Favored Lunatic status in the capital. So they forged a letter from the late Emperor commanding Fusu to commit ritual suicide, which he did, because I guess that was the sort of thing your dad might reasonably tell you to do in Imperial China. Unfortunately, once Li Si and Zhao Gao (those wacky cut-ups) succeeded in putting a different Emperor in place – a guy named Qin Er Shi – Zhao turned on his old friend and had him arrested for treason.

Li Si petitioned the new Emperor to come to his aid, but Zhao intercepted the letter and had him beaten, then killed via the very Five Punishments he had devised. Oh, and then he had every member of the next three generations of Li Si’s family killed. DAMN, Chinese history, I am glad I was not alive in you!

Leave a Reply