Comprehensive Officer Biography
Translated & Authored by
Place of Birth: Jiwu County, Chen Liu Kingdom (Presently Hesui County in Henan Province)
Lifespan: AD 160 – 197 (37 Years)
Titles: Commander, Commander of the Capital District, Lord of the Second Rank
Family: Dian Man (son)
Dian Wei was a fierce man of a common background. He first served Zhang Miao, but he got into a fight with his roommates and ended up killing a dozen of them with his bare hands. After that he fled into the mountains where he chased wild Tigers for food, there he met Xiahou Dun, who introduced him to Lord Cao.
Lord Cao wanted proof of Dian Wei’s strength, so the latter went out to the compound where the fierce wind was threatening to blow over a flag pole. While several soldiers were trying to keep it standing, Dian Wei shouted at the men to leave and used one hand to straighten the pole. Lord Cao was in awe of his strength and recruited Dian Wei into his army and placed him as Commander under Xiahou Dun (1).
When Lord Cao led his troops against Lü Bu, Dian Wei simply scared away the troops by violently swinging his halberds (2). As a result Lord Cao appointed Dian Wei as the head of his personal guard.
When Li Jue and Guo Si were fighting each other, Dian Wei followed Xiahou Dun as the vanguard party. Together with Cao Ren and Xu Chu, Dian Wei charged Li Jue’s army with only three hundred cavalry troops, and continued to do so until the main army arrived. For this he was appointed Commander of the Capital District.
In the second year of Rebuilt Tranquility (AD 197), Lord Cao stayed in Wan castle, consorting with the wife of the late Zhang Ji, Lady Zhou. Zhang Xiu was enraged and together with Jia Xu he plotted to kill Lord Cao. However, because they feared Dian Wei’s strength, they weakened him with wine, stole his halberds, and night raided Lord Cao’s camp.
Zhang Xiu torched Lord Cao’s camp and Dian Wei rushed out of his tent with a sword to see what was going on. Though he fought with bravery, Dian Wei had no armor or backup and was totally outnumbered by the enemy soldiers. Dian Wei died that night, and after learning of his death, Lord Cao wept bitterly.
After Cao Pi became Emperor, Dian Wei was memorialized by the court and posthumously titled Lord of the Second rank. After his death, Lord Cao took custody over Dian Wei’s only son and honored him as a member of his own family.
(1) Upon the display of strength, Lord Cao compared Dian Wei to E Lai, a remarkably strong man who served King Zhou, the last King of the Shang Dynasty. He gave Dian Wei an embroidered robe, a swift steed and a handsome saddle (SGYY Chapter 10). <return>
(2) Dian Wei’s halberds were said to weigh ninety pounds each. <return>
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Major Sources: Beifangshi - Han/Ming Professor E.Lin (1982 Beijing)