Biography (SGYY): Hu Juer

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Hu Juer
Lifespan: Unknown

Sanguo yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by James Peirce

Hu Juer

Hu Juer (1) was a commander in service to Zhang Xiu of great physical strength. He was said to have been able to lift up to five hundred jin, or ride seven hundred li in a single day.

1: It is worth noting that Hu Juer and Hu Che’er, who served under Niu Fu, are separate people. Also, Ju1 is the former pronunciation of 車, which is now pronounced Che1. We hold to the standard set by Moss Roberts and others, and use the old pronunciation.

When Cao Cao first marched on Zhang Xiu, Jia Xu advised him to surrender, which he did. While there, Cao Cao was introduced to Lady Zou, former wife of Zhang Ji, Zhang Xiu’s uncle, and the two proceeded with a secret romance. When Zhang Xiu found out, he was outraged, and called on Jia Xu for a plan, which he promptly provided.

The following day, in accord with the plan, Zhang Xiu made the excuse to Cao Cao that many of his newly surrendered troops were deserting, and requested permission to station men in his encampment in an effort to prevent more from retreating. Cao Cao agreed.

Zhang Xiu was concerned with Dian Wei, who stood between him and the man he wanted revenge against, Cao Cao. Seeing no way in, he turned to Hu Juer, one of four division commanders stationed inside Cao Cao’s encampment.

Hu Juer offered the following plan: “Dian Wei is feared only because he wields two iron halberds. My lord, I suggest you invite him to dine tomorrow, and send him home only after he has become very drunk. I will slip in among his men and find a way to steal his weapons. At that point, we should be able to defeat him without much trouble.”

Zhang Xiu was pleased with the plan, and prepared his armed soldiers and archers for his attack on Cao Cao’s encampment. The other three divisions in Cao Cao’s camp were also notified of the impending attack. Zhang Xiu also invited Dian Wei to his camp, entertained him attentively, and sent him home late after he had grown very drunk.

Hu Juer, meanwhile, slipped in to the encampment where Cao Cao and Lady Zou were carousing. He found the halberds, and successfully retrieved them.

That night, Cao Cao was disturbed by the sounds of voices and restless horses. He sent a guard to find out what was happening, and was told that Zhang Xiu’s men were making their nightly rounds. He suspected nothing. Later, between the second and third watch, a carload of hay caught fire. Cao Cao called for his men not to panic, but then fire burst out in all other directions.

Cao Cao called for his guard, Dian Wei, but he was in a drunken stupor. He woke to the clamor, however, and leaped to his feet. He searched everywhere for his halberds, but could not locate them. Zhang Xiu’s men were now trying to enter the front gate of Cao Cao’s encampment, so Dian Wei took a sword from a nearby soldier. He fought valiantly against the men, his sword breaking in battle, then even picked up the bodies of two fallen soldiers and used them as weapons instead, felling eight or nine more of his enemies. Zhang Xiu’s men, now very fearful, backed off and pelted the great warrior with arrows. With a great cry, Dian Wei finally fell, but no soldiers dared to pass where his body rested. Cao Cao went on to face Zhang Xiu’s men two more times, facing great defeat in the second instance thanks to Jia Xu’s advice, but in the end escaped safely back to the capital.

Copyright © 2006 James Peirce
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong
Sources: Romance of the Three Kingdoms Brewitt-Taylor and Moss Roberts