Zhuge Jin, styled Ziyu, hailed from Yangdu in Langye. A warm and agreeable man, he fled his home when Cao Cao began slaughtering the populace of Xuzhou in AD 193 (1).
1: Cao Cao attacked Xuzhou in revenge for the murder of his father, Cao Song.
Zhuge Jin fled to Nanyang with his uncle Zhuge Xuan and his brothers Zhuge Liang and Zhuge Jun. After Zhuge Xuan died, Zhuge Jin travelled to Yangzhou, where he entered the service of Sun Quan. Quan treated Jin as an honoured guest. On Zhuge Jin’s advice, Quan severed relations with Yuan Shao (2) and followed Cao Cao until another chance came for Quan to attack Cao.
2: Sun Quan’s older brother, Ce, had died not long before. Sun Ce had wanted to attack Xuchang, the capital, with the help of Yuan Shao. When Sun Quan succeeded, he decided that Cao was the better ally.
3: Wu was the name that Sun Quan had given to his land, which consisted of Lujiang and the Yang Province. Cao Cao attacked Wu after taking Hebei and securing the surrender of Jingzhou.
4: Zhuge Liang was the younger brother of Zhuge Jin; he had joined Liu Bei after the latter visited him at Longzhong three times. Liang had stalled Cao Cao’s advance twice before this invasion.
When Lu Su took Liang to see Sun Quan, Liang found himself face to face with his brother. After the formalities, Jin said, “Worthy brother, why have you not come to see your elder brother?”
“I am sorry,” replied Zhuge Liang, “but I am in the service of Lord Liu, and at the present, formal matters must take place above personal matters. You must forgive me, for I have to deal with these first.”
“Let us meet later after you have met Lord Sun, and then we can talk about happier times,” said Zhuge Jin, as he departed.
Chief Commander Zhou Yu was worried about the amazing intellect of Zhuge Liang (5) and called for Zhuge Jin.
5: Zhou Yu realised that Liu Bei would one day become a threat to Wu. With Zhuge Liang’s help, Wu could be destroyed by Liu Bei.
“Lord Zhuge is one of the rarest talents of the age,” explained Zhou Yu, “and therefore should not consent to serve Lord Liu Bei. His arrival in Wu is a blessing for him and for us. Ziyu, could you try to persuade him to come over to our side?”
Zhuge Jin agreed and went to see Zhuge Liang. After the formalities, Jin burst into tears and wrapped himself around his brother.
“Brother,” he sobbed, “do you remember the story of Bo Yi and Shu Qi?” (6)
6: Bo Yi and Shu Qi were elders of the Shang Dynasty. When the Zhou took over, they starved to death together rather than turn to Zhou.
Zhuge Liang was well aware that Jin had been sent to persuade him to defect, so he replied, “You mean the sages of antiquity?”
“That’s right,” replied Jin, “Brother, we came from the same womb and suckled at the same breast. Now we serve different lords and lead different lives. When I think of Bo Yi and Shu Qi, I can’t but feel a pang of sorrow.”
“Brother,” replied Liang, “I feel the same way, but what you are saying pertains to the realm of sentiment. I must preserve the realm of honour. Lord Liu is a scion of the royal house. Are we not men of the Han? If you would leave Lord Sun and join me with Lord Liu, then there would be no pang of shame as true subjects of the great Han and we would be reunited. What do you say?”
Zhuge Jin was amazed that he had come to ply and ended up being plied. He had no answer, so he left and reported to Zhou Yu.
“How do you feel about it?” asked Zhou Yu.
“I serve Lord Sun and only him.” was the reply, “We serve our separate lords. I would be as likely to defect as he would.”
“Lord Ziyu,” replied Zhou Yu, “that is good to hear and I am glad. Do not worry. I know how to make your brother give in.”
Zhou Yu failed repeatedly and tried to kill Zhuge Liang. However, Liang managed to escape after defeating Cao Cao at Chibi. Wu was saved from destruction.
In AD 214, Liu Bei captured Yizhou and forced Liu Zhang to surrender. Jingzhou had been loaned to Liu Bei by Sun Quan after Chibi. Quan wanted Jingzhou back, but couldn’t thwart Liu Bei’s repeated refusals. He asked Zhang Zhao what to do.
“Liu Bei relies above all on Zhuge Liang,” Zhao replied, “His younger brother, Zhuge Jin, works for my lord. Imprison his family and send him to Chengdu (7) to ask for the return of the province. He will say that if we do not get the province, his family will die.”
7: Chengdu was the capital of Yizhou and Liu Bei’s base.
“Ziyu is my good friend,” replied Sun Quan, “Can we do it without imprisoning his family?”
“No,” replied Zhao, “but we can tell him it’s part of the plan.”
Sun Quan agreed and sent Jin to Chengdu. Zhuge Liang knew the truth however, and so did Liu Bei. Zhuge Liang pretended to be upset and Liu Bei said, “I will return one half of the province. The cities of Changsha, Lingling and Guiyang will go to Sun Quan. We were intending to give back the rest, but with Cao Cao’s conquest of Hanzhong, (8) we have no place to put my brother Guan Yu.”
8: Cao Cao took Hanzhong from Zhang Lu in AD 215. Hanzhong was part of Yi and a critical point in securing Yi. Liu Bei at this time was preparing to attack Hanzhong.
Zhuge Jin thanked Liu Bei. On Liu Bei’s advice, he went to Jingzhou to tell Guan Yu of the change (9).
9: This was a ploy by Zhuge Liang. He knew that Guan Yu would never give up Jingzhou and so made a secret of the fact that Liu Bei would try to keep Jingzhou permanently.
When Jin got to Jingzhou, he met Guan Yu. Yu also guessed the truth and said it more bluntly when Jin protested Yu’s refusal to hand the cities over to Wu. Jin had no choice but to go back to Yi and see Liu Bei.
When he got there, Zhuge Liang had gone on an inspection, so Liu Bei promised that the three cities would be returned after the capture of Hanzhong. When Jin went home, Sun Quan was angry at Liu Bei. He allowed Jin to take his family home.
In AD 219, Liu Bei captured Hanzhong. He ordered Guan Yu to attack Cao Ren at Xiangyang. Guan Yu defeated Cao Ren and surrounded Fancheng. Cao Cao sent Yu Jin and Pang De to reinforce. However, they were overwhelmed. Pang De was killed and Yu Jin captured.
Lü Meng of Wu took Jing by surprise and Guan Yu was eventually besieged at Maicheng. Sun Quan wanted to secure the surrender of Guan Yu. He sent Zhuge Jin to the city wall, where he was admitted.
“Lord Guan,” began Jin, “Jingzhou is yours no more. You are backed into this single paltry town. You only have a handful of soldiers and Lord Sun’s men have hemmed you in. Why don’t you surrender to Wu? We will treat you well and you can be reunited with your family (10). What do you say?”
10: Lü Meng had captured Guan Yu’s family at Jiangling; he also sent Yu Jin home to Wei.
“I am a simple warrior from Jieliang,” was the reply, “I was a fugitive who met my lord at Zhuo. By his favour, he and I became brothers.”
“Yunchang,” replied Zhuge Jin, “You can be as well treated under Lord Sun. Please consider it or else you will die.”
“Jade may break,” replied Guan Yu, “but its whiteness remains. Bamboo may burn, but its joints remain. The warrior’s body may be broken, but his fame will live in history. Please leave at once.”
“You are acting foolish general,” protested Zhuge Jin. He was met with a drawn sword from Guan Ping (11).
11: Guan Ping was the adopted son of Guan Yu. He was accomplished in the military arts.
“Ping!” said Guan Yu in a reprimanding tone, “He is the brother of Uncle Liu’s chief adviser. Be lenient and spare him.”
Jin scurried out, grateful for his life.
Guan Yu was later captured and executed with Guan Ping. When Liu Bei heard it, he was furious and prepared to invade Wu.
In 221, the new Emperor of Han, Liu Bei (12) mustered an army of seven hundred thousand to attack Wu. Also, the Man tribe under Shamoke had loaned fifty thousand troops. Wu was facing extinction once again. Sun Quan sent Zhuge Jin to reason with Liu Bei, whose forces were nearing the Wu border.
12: Cao Pi, the son of Cao Cao, had overthrown the Han Emperor and become Wei emperor. In response, Liu Bei became emperor of Shu-Han.
When Jin met the Emperor of Shu, he prostrated himself.
“What brings you here Ziyu?” asked Liu Bei.
“My younger brother has served Your Majesty for a long time. Now I come, endangering my own life to tell you that Sun Quan deeply regrets killing your brother. Lü Meng hated Guan Yu and killed him, not Sun Quan. Now Lü Meng is dead (13) and Lady Sun thinks of nothing but returning to her husband (14). We have decided to give back to you Jingzhou, the traitors who betrayed you and your lovely wife. Please consider Your Majesty.”
13: Lü Meng died after Guan Yu possessed him. Sun Quan had not yet found a new commander to take care of Shu’s invasion.
14: Lady Sun had married Liu Bei after a ploy of Zhou Yu’s went wrong. She left Liu Bei when he invaded Yizhou.
“How dare that bastard Sun Quan try to ply me with clever arguments!” shouted Liu Bei, “I shall crush Wu and then Wei. Sun shall die and all who betrayed Guan Yu with him! If you weren’t the Prime Minister’s brother (15) you’d already be dead. Get out and tell Sun that he should wash his neck; the executioner is coming for him!” Zhuge Jin left deeply saddened.
15: Zhuge Liang became Prime Minister after Liu Bei became Emperor.
During this visit, Zhang Zhao said to Sun Quan, “Zhuge Jin knows of the strength of Shu. These peace talks are a cover. Jin means to defect.”
“Ziyu and I are as brothers,” replied Sun Quan, “and he once said that Liang serves Shu, I serve Wu. He would not betray me.”
At that moment Jin returned.
“You see?” said Sun Quan. Zhang Zhao retreated in shame.
Eventually Wu defeated Shu at Xiaoting under Lu Xun. Several commanders died protecting Liu Bei. Liu Bei died of grief the following year, and Liu Shan succeeded him.
In AD 234, Zhuge Liang of Shu was stalemated at Wuzhangyuan by Sima Yi of Wei. Shu asked Wu for help in bringing down Wei. In response, Sun Quan, the new Emperor of Wu (16) sent Sun Shao and Zhang Cheng to Guangling and Lu Xun and Zhuge Jin to Jiangxia and Miankou with the orders to take Xiangyang. However the attack failed and Man Chong destroyed Lu Xun’s supplies, troops and camps. Zhuge Jin led the defeated troops back to Lu Xun.
16: Sun Quan became emperor of Wu in AD 229.
His defeat came at the height of summer, during an epidemic. Zhuge Jin found out that Lu Xun had planted crops and was playing archery with the commanders at the entrance of the camp.
“Lord Lu!” shouted Jin, “Cao Rui (17) is marching against us in person! How will you deal with this threat?”
17: Cao Rui was the second emperor of Wei; he had succeeded in AD 226.
“We have no choice but to retreat slowly,” replied Lu Xun.
“Lord Lu,” replied Jin, “We should do it swiftly. Why draw it out?”
“The enemy will be given too good a chance to pursue if we do it swiftly. You take some boats and show some resistance before heading home. I will take the land force to Xiangyang and throw the enemy off our trail. Then we withdraw without any fear of northerners approaching.”
Zhuge Jin agreed and the plan worked out. The Wu forces retreated.
Zhuge Liang died a few months later and Shu abandoned its war against Wei (18).
18: This was only temporary. In 249, Jiang Wei of Shu marched against Wei for the first time out of nine.
Zhuge Jin had an elongated face. Sun Quan noticed this once at a banquet. Zhuge Ke, the gifted son of Zhuge Jin, was also present.
Sun Quan led a donkey in and chalked the words Zhuge Jin on its nose. The guests burst out laughing. Zhuge Ke then ran up and added the words “ ‘s donkey.” The guests were shocked and Quan was so amused that he gave the donkey to Ke as a gift.
Zhuge Jin died in 241 and Sun Quan was sorely distressed by this loss.
Zhuge Ke became chief commander after Sun Quan’s death, but was executed on suspicion of betrayal by Sun Jun.
Zhuge Jin had once said, “My son shows his genius too brightly. He will not preserve the family.”
Copyright © 2004 Mike Holmes
Based on the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong