Biography (SGYY): Xun Chen (Youruo)

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Xun Chen (Youruo)
荀諶 (友若)
Lifespan Unknown

Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Dong Zhou

Xun Chen (Youruo)

After the Coalition against Dong Zhuo, Yuan Shao was forced to borrow supplies from Han Fu but on the advice of Peng Ji, he proposed to Gongsun Zan a plan to perform a joint attack on Han Fu’s land of Ji, a plan that Gongsun Zan readily agreed to. Meanwhile Yuan Shao had sent warning to Han Fu that Gongsun Zan was going to attack him.

Xun Chen held the office of Counselor at the time and Han Fu sought his advice on the situation. Xun Chen advised “Governor Gongsun Zan of Beiping is commanding a huge and strong army. If he came to attack us, we could not stand against him, especially if he had the help of Liu Bei and his brothers. At present, Yuan Shao is bolder than most, and he has many able and famous leaders under him. You cannot do better than ask him to assist in administering this region. Yuan Shao will certainly treat you with generosity, and you need have no fear from Gongsun Zan.”

Despite the protests of Geng Wu, Han Fu invited Yuan Shao to assist him and fell for Yuan Shao’s plan. Han Fu was made General Who Demonstrates Grand and Vigor Courage in Arms but was quickly stripped of power by Yuan Shao’s officers Tian Feng, Ju Shou, Xu You, and Peng Ji. Han Fu fled to Zhang Miao, leaving his family behind in Yuan Shao’s hands (1).

1: The ZZTJ notes that while Xun Chen was a personal friend of Han Fu, he was sent by Yuan Shao to persuade Han Fu to surrender. Xun Chen’s reward was to be made a Counsellor by Yuan Shao.

After Liu Bei rebelled against Cao Cao, he had Zheng Xuan send a letter asking Yuan Shao to attack Cao Cao. Yuan Shao consulted his advisors and got mixed advice, Tian Feng advised, “Do not raise an army. The people are worn out, and the granaries are empty with these constant wars. Let us rather report the recent victory of Gongsun Zan to the Throne. If that does not reach the Emperor, then memorialize that Cao Cao is hindering the government. Then raise an army, occupy Liyang, assemble a Yellow River fleet in Henan, prepare weapons, send out your various divisions, and within three years you will win all round.”

Shen Pei disagreed saying that Yuan Shao’s military genius would be enough to beat Cao Cao easily, Ju Shou warned that victory was not always to the many, mentioning Cao Cao’s troops where well disciplined and brave, advising to find a legitimate excuse to attack. Guo Tu claimed that any attack on Cao Cao was legitimate so Yuan Shao should seize the chance, ally with Liu Bei so winning the support of Heaven and the people. The four advisors continued to argue with Yuan Shao unable to decide when Xun Chen walked in with Xu You.

Yuan Shao decided to consult them as the two advisors had wide experience and informed them of Zheng Xuan’s letter. Xun Chen and Xu You both said “Send! Your armies are numerous enough and strong enough. You will destroy a traitor and help the dynasty.” Yuan Shao agreed with them and prepared to launch a ultimately unsuccessful campaign, making Xun Chen a military advisor.

Copyright © 2006 Dong Zhou. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms