Biography (SGYY): Xiahou Dun (Yuanrang)

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Xiahou Dun (Yuanrang)
夏侯惇 (元讓)
Lived: AD ?–220

Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Qu Hui

Xiahou Dun (Yuanrang)

Xiahou Dun was from Qiao in the fief of Pei. When he learned that his kinsman, Cao Cao, was raising an army, Dun and his clansman Xiahou Yuan joined Cao, bring with them a thousand hearty warriors. During Cao’s pursuit of Dong Zhuo at Yingyang, Xu Rong ambushed Cao’s force. After a lengthy chase, Xu Rong has cornered Cao Cao; before he could strike, however, Yuanrang and others charged Rong’s troops and Dun himself killed Xu Rong.

In 194, when Cao Cao was recruiting new officers for his army, Xiahou Dun introduced Dian Wei to Cao (1). When Cao marched to attack Tao Qian of Xuzhou, whose subordinates had killed Cao Song, Cao Cao’s father, Xiahou Dun was sent to lead the invasion along with Yu Jin and Dian Wei. Bian Rang, governor of Jiujiang and close friend of Tao’s, amassed five thousand men to reinforce Xuzhou, but was intercepted and killed by Yuanrang on Cao Cao’s orders.

1: Note about Dian Wei to be inserted later.

Upon arriving at Xuzhou City, Cao and Tao Qian met in combat. Cao Bao, one of Tao Qian’s commanders, and Xiahou Dun exchanged blows until a violent storm sprung up, which forced both sides to retreat. During combat with Lu Bu at Puyang, Xiahou Dun would rescue Cao Cao, who had been repelled and was on the brink of defeat. During the disastrous second attack on Puyang, Xiahou Dun commanded the left flank.

When Cao Cao attacked Puyang a third time, Xiahou Dun was part of a six-versus-one duel between Cao’s generals and Lu Bu himself. Lu Bu, unable to withstand the attack, retreated to Puyang only to find the city already in Cao’s hands. Bu fled again, this time to Dingtao. Dun participated in an ambush of Lu Bu there, and Lu Bu, badly defeated, fled to Xuzhou.

Shortly after, Li Jue and Guo Si, who had seized control of the Imperial Court following Dong Zhuo’s assassination, had a major falling out. Emperor Xian took this opportunity to escape, and fled towards Cao Cao’s territory. In response, Cao sent Yuanrang, along with ten top generals and fifty thousand men to protect the emperor. When Li and Guo had finally caught up with the emperor, Dun deployed his men and crushed the two’s army. Afterwards, Dun and the imperial procession occupied Luoyang, former capital of the Han. When Cao moved the capital of the Han to Xuchang, Dun was appointed general.

During Cao Cao’s flight at Yu River, Xiahou Dun was deployed to suppress Yu Jin, who Cao had been tricked into attacking by unruly soldiers under Dun. When the matter was cleared, Dun was chastised for not properly disciplining his men. During Cao Cao’s attack on Yuan Shu, who had declared himself Emperor, Xiahou Dun was appointed as commander of the vanguard and killed Qiao Rui, Yuan Shu’s general.

In 196, Cao Cao moved to rescue Liu Bei, who had been betrayed and attacked by Lu Bu. Xiahou Dun was given fifty thousand soldiers and moved ahead of the main army, meeting Gao Shun in combat thirty li away from the city. Spotting Shun, Yuanrang raised his spear and went forth to challenge him. The two fought forty or fifty bouts, then Gao Shun retreated to his line. Dun pursued, and Cao Xing, one of Shun’s colleagues, took aim with his bow and fired, striking Xiahou in the left eye. Enraged, Xiahou Dun plucked out his eye and cried “The essence of my parents cannot be thrown away!” and swallowing the eyeball. Enraged, Dun rushed forward and stabbed Cao Xing to death. Dun then retreated and was pursued by Gao Shun, who dealt a large defeat to Cao Cao’s army.

Following his injury, Dun was sent back to Xuchang to recover. When the scholar Mi Heng jeered Cao Cao and his forces, he mocked Dun as deserving of the title ‘Unscathed General (2).’ Following the seizure of Xuzhou by Liu Bei, Xiahou Dun was one of the generals who defeated Liu Bei in the field and forced him to Yuan Shao’s territory. When Cao was trying to convince Guan Yu, who was holding out at Xiapi, Dun drove Guan out of the city.

2: In this instance, Mi Heng was mocking Xiahou Dun’s loss of his left eye.

Following the battle of Yanjin, Xiahou Dun was sent to guard the entry points to Guandu, a strategic position on the Yellow River. After Guan Yu had traversed five passes and slain six generals, Xiahou Dun accosted him to revenge Qin Qi, who had been Dun’s subordinate. However, on Cao Cao’s orders, he retreated. During the legendary battle of Guandu, Xiahou Dun established a three-pronged defense along with Cao Ren and Cao Hong.

At the battle of Cangting, Xiahou Dun participated in Cheng Yu’s “Ten Sided Ambush,” which destroyed Yuan Shao’s army. Following the capture of all of Yuan Shao’s territory and the death of his sons, Xiahou Dun was sent to spearhead an attack on Xinye in Jingzhou, the city that Liu Bei had been assigned to defend by Liu Biao, along with Yu Jin, Li Dian, Xiahou Lan and Han Hao. However, he was lured into a fire attack arranged by Zhuge Liang and defeated (3). During a second invasion of Xinye, he was appointed to lead one of the contingents.

3: Note about the Battle of Bowang Slope to be inserted later.

At Chibi, Dun, along with Cao Hong, were ordered to lead the naval and land reinforcements. Following the disaster there, Xiahou Dun was ordered to remain in Jingzhou to defend Xiangyang. When Cao attacked Zhang Lu of Hanzhong, Xiahou Dun was given the rearguard. Later, during a revolt lead by Geng Ji and Wei Huang in Xuchang, Dun would capture and execute the two, ending the rebellion. In 220, a year after the death of Cao Cao, Xiahou Dun died of illness (4).

4: Note about the ghost incidents to be inserted later.

Copyright © 2009-2010 Qu Hui. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms