大禹(yu)是传说中夏后氏部落的首领，原称“禹”，也称“夏禹”。傳說堯的時候，黃河發大水，洪水沖毀了村莊和房屋，人們只能住到樹上和山頂上。洪水给人民带来了极大的灾害。那时，炎黄部落联盟的首领尧任用鲧(gun)治理洪水，鲧采用筑堤堵水的办法治水，遭到了失败。尧之后，担任部落联盟首领的舜(shun)杀死了鲧，然后命令鲧的儿子禹继续治水。禹吸取了鲧的教训，改用疏导的方法治水，让洪水顺河道流向大海。禹辛勤地工作，传说他在外治水13年，三次经过家门都没有抽时间进去看看。最后，禹终于制服了水患。人们感谢禹，尊称他为“大禹”。 由于禹治水成功，得到舜的“禅(shan)让”，舜征得各部落首领的同意，推举禹为自己的继承人。舜死后，禹便成为部落联盟的首领。 那时洪水刚刚平定，草木茂盛，野兽危害人民，禹派人教百姓开辟耕地；还派人教导人民耕种田地，收获粮食。于是人民的生活渐渐安定下来。禹又对苗族发动战争，阻止他们进入黄河流域，巩固了华夏族在中原地区的地位。禹之后，部落联盟首领的权力大大加强了。 约公元前2070年，禹建立夏朝，是中国历史上第一个王朝。后来禹死了，他的儿子启继承了禹的位置，引起有扈(hu)氏部落的反抗。启打败了有扈氏以后，他的地位得到了各部落的承认。从此世袭制代替了禅让制。夏朝历经400多年，最后一个王叫桀，他是个暴君，政权非常腐朽。那时黄河下游的商国强大起来，起兵灭夏，大约在公元前1600年建立了商朝。
Yu the Great Harnesses the Flood, and the First Dynasty Is Founded
Yu the Great was the chieftain of the legendary Xiahou clan. He was originally called Yu or Xiayu. According to legend, the Yellow River flooded during the reign of Emperor Yao, and the people were forced to abandon their villages, and go to live in trees or on mountaintops. The flood brought great misery to the people. Emperor Yao, the chieftain of the Yan-Huang tribal alliance, appointed Gun to harness the flood. Gun built dikes to keep back the water, but failed. Shun, who succeeded Yao, killed Gun, and appointed Gun's son Yu to continue with the flood-harnessing work. Yu adopted the dredging method to lead the flood waters to flow along river courses into the sea. Yu worked very hard. It was said that during the 13 years he spent taming the floods, he passed his home three times, but did not enter until his task was completed. As a result of his successful efforts, the people bestowed on him the title "Yu the Great" and Shun chose Yu as his successor, with the approval of the tribal chieftains. Following the taming of the floods, vegetation and wild beasts grew rampant, threatening the survival of the people. Yu taught his subjects the art of agriculture, and thus how to dominate the land and feed themselves in a regular and organized way. He also repelled invasions by the Miao tribe, and consolidated the Huaxia people's supremacy in the Central Plains. Around 2070 BC, Yu established the Xia Dynasty, the first dynasty in Chinese history. After Yu's death, his son Qi succeeded to the throne. Crushing an attempt to overthrow him by the Youhu clan, Qi established the system of hereditary rulers. The Xia Dynasty lasted over 400 years. Its last king, Jie, vilified in the ancient records as a tyrant, was overthrown by the leader of the kingdom of Shang on the lower reaches of the Yellow River in 1,600 BC.