Qu Yuan was a member of the ruling house of Chu 楚 a kingdom in what is now southern China during the Spring and Autumn period 722-481 BC and Warring States period 481-212 BC. At the height of its power, the Chu empire occupied vast areas of land, including the present-day provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Chongqing.|
According to his version of this sad story, his king, against Qu Yuan's sage advice, attended a meeting with the enemy king of Qin, was captured and died in captivity. The new king of Chu, instead of avenging his father's killer, made a humiliating peace treaty with the king of Qin. Shortly thereafter, in 278 BC, the king of Qin attacked and destroyed the state of Chu. At that time, for Qu Yuan, already an old man over sixty, the fall of the Chu was the last blow to his patriotic hope. Unable to bear this, Qu Yuan jumped into the Miluo River and drowned.
Qu Yuan is the first Chinese poet to be known by name. Before him all surviving poems are anonymous. He was the chief composer of the Songs of Chu and is until today one of China's most venerated poets in a country where advisors have a long history of being neglected, punished and banished. there is hardly a major Chinaes poet from Li Bo to Su Shi to Lu Xun who has not honored him in patriotic verse.
It is said that his death occurred on the fifth day of the fifth moon (month). Ever since this day the Dragon Boat Festival is held throughout the Chinese cultural world to commemorate his patriotic spirit.