Lao Ai (Chinese: 嫪毐; pinyin: Lào Ǎi; died 238 BCE) was an
imposter eunuch and official of the
State of Qin
State of Qin during the late
Warring States period. He was the lover of Queen Dowager Zhao, the
mother of Qin Shi Huang, later the First Emperor of China. He was
enfeoffed as Marquis of Changxin (長信侯). After a conspiracy to
incite rebellion was uncovered, he was executed by Qin Shi Huang.
According to Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian,
Lao Ai had a
giant penis, being of such size as being able to be used as an axle
for a wooden carriage.
During the formative years of Qin Shi Huang's reign, Lü Buwei
discontinued his affair with Queen Dowager Zhao, and gave
Lao Ai to
the Queen. Subsequently, the Queen and
Lü Buwei organised a false
castration in order to facilitate Lao Ai's presence with the Queen as
After moving to the provisional capital Yong,
Lao Ai fathered two
children, and gave himself the diminutive "false father".
In 239 BCE,
Lao Ai was profiting from his position. At his peak of
influence, he had over one thousand servants and followers.
In 238 BCE, following the royal proclamation announcing Lao Ai's
status as an imposter lover consorting with the Queen Dowager, with
plans to secretly father the next king,
Lao Ai was investigated.
During this time, he attempted a coup d'état with a small number of
followers, falsely using the Queen Dowager's seal to gain legitimacy.
Without popular support, military training, numbers or sufficient
organisation, Lao Ai's followers were quickly pacified.
Lao Ai was
punished by being dismembered and torn apart by five horses and the
Queen Dowager was imprisoned in her palace and her two sons were
killed. Followers were exiled to Shu kingdom.
^ a b c Knoblock, John; Riegel, Jeffrey (2000). The annals of Lü
Buwei: a complete translation and study. Stanford University Press.
^ Mah, Adeline Yen (2002). A thousand pieces of gold: my discovery of
China's character in its proverbs (1st ed.). San Francisco, Calif.:
HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 32–34. ISBN 0-