If you missed my last article on Sol, Surtr, and Bellona, you can find it here.
Hou Yi, also known as simply Yi. He is either a demi god that was offered to be a full god or a mortal man offered immortality for his heroic deeds. He may have been deified and made the god of archery anyway. No matter what, he is the reason we have one sun.
Hou Yi is the greatest archer in Chinese history. He is so strong that only he can pull the string on his bow made of tiger bone that and arrows made of dragon tendons. In art from the Tang dynasty, Hou Yi wears animal skins or the clothes of soldiers.
Hou Yi is, as stated previously, responsible for only one sun when there used to be ten. The ten suns used to shine one at a time, as told to them by their grandfather, the Jade Emperor. Not caring, they all shone at once, scorching the Earth. Crops and livestock died, and monsters and demons ran rampantly around it too. To stop this and ensure this would never happen again, the Jade Emperor tried reasoning with the Suns to no avail. Finally, he sent Hou Yi to shoot them out of the skies. Even then, Hou Yi just tried to frighten them. He ended up needing to shoot them down. He shot them down one by one. When one was left, he fled, scared that Hou Yi would kill him too,o so the land was covered in darkness. The last sun’s mother implored him to spare him, stating the earth needed at least one sun. The rooster crowed and crowed until the sun could stand it no more and came out to shine. From that day on, the rooster greets the sun every morning.
The sun myth didn’t end there. Because of his heroic actions with the suns and saving the earth, he was given a way to become immortal and take a place with the gods. In some myths, it was a pill and an elixir in others. Hou Yi hid it so he could think. Yes, he would love the gift, but that would mean he had to leave her, and he wasn’t given enough for two. In the end, Chang’e, Hou Yi’s wife, stole his ability to attain immortality, took it herself, and became the moon goddess. Some say the betrayal was simply greed, whereas others say he was tyrannical and she was escaping him. Either way, she floated off, becoming the moon goddess. Hou Yi either shot at her and missed, or he just didn’t have the heart to harm her. There are conflicting stories.
I am not sure if I feel sorry for Hou Yi or Chang’e. I know the stories go on to say that he mourned her for the rest of his days and put her favorite desserts outside in the moonlight so she could enjoy them. What do you think? What if your significant other stole your way to immortality? Would you let it go? Would you even want to be immortal? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I already covered Chang’e, so you can read up on her. Until next time, have fun storming the castle!