Biography (SGZ): Cao Cao (Mengde)

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Cao Cao (Mengde)
曹操 (孟德)
Lived: AD 155-220

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Pei Songzhi in Blue, Translator Notes in Green
Translated by Adrian Loder

The Great Ancestor and Martial Emperor was a native of Qiao in Pei state. His family name was Cao, his tabooed name was Cao, he was styled Mengde, and he descended from the former Han Prime Minister Cao Can. (1) In the time of Emperor Huan, Cao Teng was appointed Chief of the Regular Palace Attendants and conferred the title Marquis of Feiting. (2) Teng’s adopted son Song succeeded him, achieving the high office of Grand Commandant, but there were none able to discover the circumstances of his birth. (3) Cao Song begot the Great Ancestor.

1: The Record of Cao Man/Cao Man Zhuan states: The Great Ancestor was also called Ji Li, and his childhood name was A Man. Wang Chen’s Book of Wei states: His family originally came from Huangdi. In the time of Gao Yang, Lu Zhong’s son was called An, and assumed the surname of Cao. When King Wu of Zhou subdued Yin, beginning the dynasty that afterwards carried his name, he gave to Cao Xia the state of Zhu. During the Spring & Autumn Period they participated in coalition meetings, continuing up until the Warring States period when the state was subdued by Chu. Thenceforth the family’s descendants dispersed, and some of the family settled in Pei. At the time of the High Ancestor of Han’s ascension, Cao Can, because of his accomplishments, was given the title Marquis of Pingyang and his descendants continued to hold the fiefdom. The line was extinguished but was again renewed, until the present day with each successor to the state residing at Rongcheng.
2: Sima Biao’s Book of Han Continued/Sima Biao Xu Han Shu states: Cao Teng was the father of Cao Jie, who was styled Yuanwei, and who because of his evident virtue was very favorably spoken of. Once, his neighbor lost his own pig, and Jie’s pig looked just like it. The neighbor took it for himself but Jie did not get angry. Later, when the lost pig returned home of its own accord, the pig’s owner was greatly ashamed; when he returned the pig and thanked Jie, Jie smilingly accepted it. As a result the townspeople praised him for his nobility. His eldest son was styled Boxin, the next oldest son was styled Zhongxing and the youngest son was styled Shuxing. Cao Teng, styled Jixing, in his youth entered officialdom as a Yellow Gate Attendant. In the first year of Yongning, the Empress Dowager Deng issued an imperial order for the head of the Yellow Gate Attendants to select, from those holding the position of Attendant Within the Yellow Gates, individuals of an age and temperament fit to accompany the Crown Prince in his studies. In this way, Cao Teng was selected. The Crown Prince was especially fond of Teng and he bestowed gifts of food and drink upon him much more than he did others. When the Prince took the throne as Emperor Shun, Teng was appointed Junior Attendant at the Yellow Gates and later promoted to Chief Regular Palace Attendant. Teng held that position for more than thirty years, successively serving four emperors, which was unprecedented. He enjoyed recommending people of worthy ability and he never made it his place to speak injuriously of others. Amongst those so recommended were, from Chenliu, Yu Fang and Bian Shao; from Nanyang, Yan Gu and Zhang Wen; from Hongnong, Zhang Huan and from Yingzhuan, Tang Xi Qian, all of whom achieved high offices; moreover, he never boasted of his kindness. When the Grand Administrator of Shu commandery wrote a letter to Teng out of respect for him, the Inspector of Yi province Zhong Gao intercepted the message and obtained the letter. The Inspector memorialized the throne asking that Teng, because of association with outside officials, be regarded as unfit for office and therefore dismissed from his position as punishment for his crime. The Emperor responded, “Since the letter came from outside, and Teng did not compose a letter, he is not guilty of any crime.” Therefore, Gao’s memorial was put to rest. Teng did not take the matter to heart, and often spoke well of Gao, as he felt that he performed his duties with great integrity. Later, when Gao became Minister Over the Masses he told others: “Today I hold this office because of Palace Attendant Cao’s kindness.” In all other things Teng conducted himself just as he did in this matter. When Emperor Huan ascended the throne, because Teng was an old official under the deceased Emperor, his loyalty and filial piety were openly praised and he was conferred the title Marquis of Feiting, adding further to his position of great honor. In the third year of Taihe Teng was posthumously given the title of High Emperor.
3: The Book of Han Continued states: Cao Song was styled Jugao. He was by nature calm and kind, and everywhere was known for his loyalty and filial piety. He was first given the title Colonel Director of Retainers; then Emperor Ling promoted him to Grand Minister of Agriculture and Grand Herald and he replaced Cui Lie as Grand Commandant. In the first year of Huangchu, Song was posthumously titled as Great Emperor. The Record of Cao Man, composed by a man of Wu, and Guo Ban’s Shi Yu both present the following: Song was a son of the Xiahou clan and was the younger brother of Xiahou Dun’s father. Therefore the Great Ancestor was of the same clan as Dun, as their fathers were brothers.

The Great Ancestor in his youth was very sharp-witted and disposed himself to frivolous debauchery rather than applying himself to a vocation. As a result, people thought nothing special of him. (4) Only Liang state’s Qiao Xuan and Yang He of Nan viewed him differently. Xuan told the Great Ancestor, “The whole world will be disordered, and only one with the ability to direct the world will be able to aid it; and the person possessing this ability is you!” (5) When he was twenty, he was nominated as Filially Pious and Incorrupt and became an official, being appointed magistrate of the Northern District of Luoyang. Later, he was reassigned as Prefect of Dunqiu. (6) Later, he was promoted to Yilang. (7)

4: The Record of Cao Man states: The Great Ancestor in his youth enjoyed flying hawks and racing dogs, endlessly knocking about, such that his uncle spoke to his father Song about his behavior. The Great Ancestor suffered for it, and later when he came upon his uncle along the road, he pretended to be having a seizure; his uncle was bewildered and asked him what was wrong and the Great Ancestor replied, “I am having a stroke.” His uncle therefore went to tell his father Song, who was very startled, and called the Great Ancestor to him, the Great Ancestor then resuming his normal appearance. His father spoke, asking, “Your uncle said that you were having a stroke; are you now recovered?” The Great Ancestor replied, “I never had a stroke in the first place. My uncle has always been lacking in affection for me, thus he has only ever been unpleasant to me.” Song therefore became suspicious. From that moment onward, Song didn’t believe anything that his brother told him regarding the Great Ancestor and the Great Ancestor behaved even more recklessly.
5: The Book of Wei/Wei Shu states: The Grand Commandant Qiao Xuan, who in his time was famous for his assessment of people, viewed the Great Ancestor as someone of special distinction, and said, “I know most of the people of ability in the world, yet I have never seen one such as you! A ruler also must be benevolent and able to restrain himself. I am old, and because of this my wife and children shall reside with you.” As a result of these words the Great Ancestor’s reputation increased greatly. The Book of Han Continued states: Qiao Xuan, styled Gongzu, was strict and impartial, was very skilled in strategy, and was also skilled in reading characters. Zhang Fan’s Record of Han states: While in office Xuan was everywhere known for his upright behavior and his kindness toward his subordinates. He never showed favoritism for the nobles or his close friends. During the Guanghe years he became Grand Commandant, but after serving for a lengthy period of time he resigned due to illness and took office as High Grand Tutor. When he died, his family was poor and lacked an estate, and his coffin contained no funeral goods. As a result, the people considered him to be a reputable official. The Shi Yu states: Xuan once said to the Great Ancestor, “You are not yet well-known, you should become friends with Xu Zijiang.” The Great Ancestor therefore went to see Zijiang, and, Zijiang receiving him, he became well known. Sun Sheng’s Miscellaneous Alternate Records/Sun Sheng Yitong Za Yu states: The Great Ancestor once went secretly into the Regular Palace Attendant Zhang Rang’s room. Rang, feeling his presence, wielded his hand halberd in the courtyard, jumped over the wall and left. The Great Ancestor’s military ability was superhuman, and no one was capable of harming him. He read extensively in all kinds of books, and he particularly enjoyed the art of war. He gathered together the various schools of thought regarding military strategy, which he named the Jie Yao, and annotated the thirteen books of Sun Wu, all of which has been passed down through the ages. Once, he asked Xu Zijiang, “What man do I resemble?” But Zijiang did not answer him. After repeatedly asking him, Zijiang finally said, “In times of peace, you would be an able official; in times of disorder, you would be a scheming hero.” The Great Ancestor laughed.
6: The Record of Cao Man states: When the Great Ancestor first attained that position, he put the whole of the administration into good order. He created five colored rods and placed them to the left and right of the county gate, ten of them in total, and if anyone were to violate curfew, regardless of wealth or power they would be beaten to death with these rods. After many months, the uncle of Emperor Ling’s favorite eunuch Jian Shuo broke curfew and went about at night, and accordingly was put to death. In this way the capital was restrained, and there were none that dared violate curfew. And though it was common for the officials to dislike him, they were unable to do him any harm. Therefore, they came together to recommend him, deliberately causing for him to be moved to Dunqiu command.
7: The Book of Wei states: The Great Ancestor’s cousin’s husband, the Marquis of Qiang, Song Qi, was put to death, and all related to him were removed from office. Later on, because of his ability to understand the teachings of the ancients, the Great Ancestor was given the office of Yilang. Initially the General-In-Chief Dou Wu and Grand Tutor Chen Fan sought to cause harm to the eunuchs but instead they themselves came to harm. The Great Ancestor memorialized to the Emperor regarding how Chen, Wu and others of an honest and upright nature were coming to harm, the treachery and iniquity filling the court and how good men were being kept silent. His words were very harsh, and Emperor Ling would not make use of it. Thereafter an imperial order was issued to the Three Ministries, stating: “All of those presenting memorials regarding the local and regional government’s ineffectiveness in political affairs will be considered a spreader of rumors and be removed from office.” The Three Ministries inclined toward wickedness and it was in no way uncommon at the time to see imperial office misused, and bribery also occurred. The powerful were complained of, yet nowhere could one see their abuses being reported, even as the vulnerable ones that stood by their principles were for the most part made to suffer and be ruined. The Great Ancestor was disgusted by it. Because there were in that year numerous misfortunes, he inquired into the troubles and, accordingly, again memorialized the emperor to disapprove, saying that the Three Ministries in their edicts and memorials shied away from conflict with the nobility. Upon presentation of the memorial the Son of Heaven was affected and understood the truth. He relieved the Three Ministries of their duties, and of those who had spread rumors, all of them were created Yilang. Yet afterwards the political situation daily grew more disordered, the strong through devious behavior grew increasingly more powerful and many were thereby ruined. The Great Ancestor realized it was impossible to correct the situation, and therefore did not speak out again.

At the end of the Guanghe years the Yellow Turbans rebelled. The Great Ancestor was appointed Chief Commandant of Cavalry and fought against the Yin River bandits. Thereafter he was appointed Chancellor of Jinan, whose territory comprised ten counties. The superior officials greatly relied on the power of the nobility and due to bribery and corruption the administration was completely disordered. Because of this a memorial was issued to dismiss eight of them. A prohibition was made ending the evil practices, the wicked officials fled so as to escape and the whole of the region was set in good order. (8) Some time later he was summoned back to be appointed Grand Administrator of Dong commandery but he did not accept, and instead stated that he was ill and returned to his home village. (9)

8: The Book of Wei states: The head officials were greedy and receiving bribes, they depended on the influence of the nobility and previously their deeds had gone unexposed. On learning of the Great Ancestor’s arrival, some of them were dismissed from office, while others were greatly shaken with fear. Consequently the wicked officials made so as to escape and fled to other commanderies. The political situation being greatly improved, the whole of the commandery was thereby made peaceful. Earlier, Liu Zhang, Prince Jing of Chengyang, had worked honorably on behalf of Han. Therefore, in this state ancestral temples were established in his name, and in Jing province all of the commanderies adopted a similar course and imitated them. Jinan City was especially productive, completing more than six hundred of these ancestral temples. There was a merchant who stole a carriage valued at two thousand shi, and allowed himself to be carried about while making much disorderly merriment (贾人或假二千石舆服导从作倡乐). The rich grew wealthier by the day, while the common people sank into total poverty, and during all of it the head officials were not bold enough to condemn this behavior. When the Great Ancestor arrived, all of these ancestral temples were demolished, he put a complete end to the misdeeds of the government officials and forbade the people from sacrificing at the temples. Upon gaining control of the government, he then disposed of the wicked and irregular customs concerning ghosts and spirits. As a result the impious sacrifices of before were from then on nonexistent.
9: The Book of Wei states: Then the power of the ministers concentrated in the imperial court, and the relatives of the nobility were able to do as they pleased. The Great Ancestor could not change his ways and please them. Frequently he was disobedient, and, fearful that his home would come to harm, he sought to go and stay there so as to guard it. He was appointed Yilang, but frequently would stay inside due to illness; as a result he gave notice that he was returning to his native town. He constructed a chamber outside the city wall, and in the spring and summer it was his habit to study the classics, while in the autumn and winter he would hunt with a bow and arrow, in order to provide himself with entertainment.

Soon after, Wang Fen, the Inspector of Jizhou, Xu You of Nanyang, Zhou Jing of Peiguo and others of similar grade, came together with other talented individuals to plan the deposition of Emperor Ling, and to establish the Marquis of Hefei in his place. For this purpose they went to inform the Great Ancestor, but the Great Ancestor rejected their proposition. In the end, Fen and the others thoroughly failed. (10)

10: Sima Biao in the Annal of Jiuzhou/Jiuzhou Chunqiu states: When Chen Fan left with the Shu Shi of Pingyuan Xiang Kai so as to meet with Wang Fen, Kai said, “The Heavens are not advantageous for the eunuchs, and both the Yellow Gate Attendants and the Regular Palace Attendants will be wholly exterminated.” Fan was quite pleased, and Fen replied, “If these things are true, then I will be the one to drive them out.” Therefore, in concert with You and others of the same stature he plotted rebellion. At this time Emperor Ling desired to go north so as to visit the former palace at Hejian. Fen and his cohorts subsequently staged a rebellion, petitioning the Black Mountain bandits to loot and pillage province and county alike, beseeching them to take up arms. To the north there was visible a reddish haze that covered the whole of the sky, such that the Taishi came forward and said, “This omens some sort of pitfall, wherefore it is inadvisable to travel north,” and the Emperor therefore stayed put. Fen was commanded by imperial order to put down his arms, or very soon forces would be levied against him. Fen became afraid and committed suicide. The Book of Wei records that the Great Ancestor would not go along with Fen’s call to rebellion, saying, “For a man to depose the emperor is the most fateful matter in the whole world. Among the ancients, only those with great power, and who comprehend the gravity of such an act, are men capable of this, such as were Yi Yin and Hou Guang. Yi Yin, who possessed a most honest and steadfast heart, and occupied the office of Prime Minister, a position of authority over the other officials, because of these things knew when it was proper to put someone aside and so could undertake the deposition of the Emperor. As for Hou Guang, he was entrusted with directing the entire state, the late emperor having given him that position. Within, due to the favor of the Empress Dowager he controlled every aspect of government, while on the outside he had the multitude of officials’ unanimous favor behind him. Chang Yi had occupied the throne for but a short period of time and did not have the favor of the nobles, and the court was lacking also in straightforward officials with whom he could discuss matters in private. For these reasons could Guang comprehend something such as a change in Heaven’s will, and so engage successfully in removing a decrepit ruler. Now you gentlemen would follow their example, seeing only the clear-cut nature of these past deeds and you do not see the difficulty of your current undertaking. Are you gentlemen, with those of your own stature, so numerous a crowd as to be as the Seven States? And is the Marquis of Hefei’s honor such as that of Wu and Chu? You aspire to extraordinary deeds, but your will and reputation surely fall short, how are you not in danger?”

Han Sui, a man from Jincheng, killed the Inspector posted in that commandery and rebelled. A multitude numbering more than one hundred thousand people rose up and the whole of the land was in tumult. The Great Ancestor was summoned to the position of Colonel Who Arranges the Army. When Emperor Ling died the crown prince ascended to the throne and the Empress Dowager assumed control of the court. The General-In-Chief He Jin together with Yuan Shao plotted to kill the eunuchs but the Empress Dowager would not listen. Jin therefore summoned Dong Zhuo to the capital, with the intention of coercing the Empress Dowager, but Zhuo had not yet arrived when Jin met his demise. (11) When Zhuo reached the capital he deposed the Emperor and made him Prince of Hongnong, enthroning in his place Emperor Xian, and the entire capital fell into total chaos. Zhuo appointed the Great Ancestor to the post of Colonel of Resolute Cavalry and desired to plot strategy with him, but the Great Ancestor assumed a false name and went away, returning to the east. (12)

After he left he was stopped, while passing Zhongmou, and coming before the sentry box the official there became suspicious. He was seized and taken to the local authorities, but once inside the city someone recognized him and requested on his behalf that he be released. (13) Zhuo then executed the Empress Dowager and the Prince of Hongnong. The Great Ancestor, on arriving at his home of old sold off all of his family’s wealth and territory, pooling it together for the purpose of raising a righteous army with which to punish Zhou. That winter, in the twelfth month, he began to raise troops in Jiwu, (14) this occurring in the sixth year of Zhongping.

11: The Book of Wei states: When the Great Ancestor got wind of this he laughed to himself, saying, “The use of eunuchs as officials has always been practiced, but if the Emperor did not allow such authority and favor to be bestowed on them, they would not cause situations such as this. Since they are controlling affairs with their wicked behavior the ringleaders should be put to death, and a single prison guard would be sufficient to do so; why is it necessary to repeatedly have others called in from outside? To seek the wrongdoers’ total extermination will result in the plot being found out, and in my opinion those doing the plotting will come to harm.”
12: Book of Wei states: Because Zhuo eventually would surely be defeated, The Great Ancestor did not go to accept the post, instead escaping back to his home village. After some time he happened across the home of his old friend Lu Boshe from Chenggao. Boshe was not there, and his son with several guests together tried to rob the Great Ancestor. They took his horse and provisions but the Great Ancestor with his dagger struck and killed every man. The Shiyu states: The Great Ancestor had come upon Boshe’s residence, but Boshe had left on a long journey. His five sons, however, were all present, and they prepared a courteous reception for their guest. Because of Zhuo’s order the Great Ancestor suspected his hosts were plotting against him. He wielded his sword and in the darkness killed eight men and then fled. Sun Sheng’s Za Ji states: The Great Ancestor overheard the orders given for preparation of his meal and erroneously believed they were plotting against him. Therefore in the darkness he killed them. Rather than being sad and sorrowful, he said, “I would rather betray a man than allow a man to betray me!” and then left.
13: The Shiyu states: The officials at Zhongmou were suspicious of the identity of the fugitive and decided to have him arrested and taken to the local authorities. At this time the magistrates had already received Zhuo’s orders; one of them was intimately aware of Cao’s heroism and recognized the Great Ancestor. In times when in every direction there is disorder it is improper to restrain the most eminently talented among men, and understanding this he went about securing his release.
14: The Shiyu states: Wei Zi of Chenliu, who had been nominated Filially Pious and Incorrupt, thereafter used his personal assets to finance The Great Ancestor, thereby raising troops numbering five thousand men.

In the spring of the first month of the first year of Chuping, the General of the Rear Yuan Shu, the Governor of Jizhou Han Fu, (15) the Prefect of Yu province Kong Zhou, (16) the Prefect of Yan province Liu Dai, (17) the Grand Administrator of Henei Wang Kuang, (18) the Grand Administrator of Bohai Yuan Shao, the Grand Administrator of Chenliu Zhang Miao, the Grand Administrator of Dong commandery Qiao Mao, (19) the Grand Administrator of Shanyang Yuan Yi (20) and the Chancellor of Jibei Bao Xin (21) all simultaneously came together to raise troops, each (of their contributions) numbering in the tens of thousands, and they pushed for Shao to become leader of the alliance. The Great Ancestor was General of Marshal Vigor.

15: The Record of Heroes/Yingxiong Ji states: Fu was styled Wenjie and was from Yingzhuan, and he held the position of Censor. Dong Zhuo then appointed him Governor of Jizhou. At the time the whole of Ji province’s populace flourished and prospered, with weapons and provisions both in ample supply. Yuan Shao was then at Bohai and Fu was fearful that he would invade and so dispatched numerous forces with the task of watching him, and would not waver from his decision. The Grand Administrator of Dong commandery Qiao Mao created a fraudulent document, passing it off as being from the Three Offices at the capital and sending it to every county and prefecture, in which he laid out Zhuo’s wickedness and evil, saying, “Seeing that we are forcibly oppressed and cannot save ourselves, we look to the future and pray for a righteous army to free the country from its suffering and troubles.” When Fu obtained the document he beseeched everyone to choose a course of action, asking, “Do we now help against the villainous Yuan clan, or do we help against the evil Dong Zhuo?” An Attendant Clerk serving in his administration, Liu Zihui, replied, “You now wage war for the benefit of the state, why speak of Yuan or Dong!” Fu was then aware of his deficiency of speech and grew red with shame. Zihui continued, saying, “Military action is an evil business and we must not be the first to act. Now, the proper course is to look toward the other provinces and if someone starts to take action, then we may join together with them. Ji province will not be inferior in comparison to the other provinces, and if the others achieve merit it will not be without having Ji province’s assistance.” Fu saw the correctness of this advice. Fu thereupon composed a letter to Shao stating the wickedness of Zhuo and that he would follow him in mobilizing troops.
16: The Record of Heroes states: Zhou was styled Gongxu and he was from Chenliu. Zhang Fan in the Han Ji records that Zheng Tai spoke to Zhuo, saying: “Kong Gongxu has ability and he speaks clearly of great thoughts, his breath fills withered minds with life.”
17: Dai was Liu Zhou’s elder brother and his deeds can be viewed in Wu records.
18: The Record of Heroes states: Kuang was styled Gongjie and was from Taishan. He valued wealth lightly and was a skilled administrator, for which reason he was appointed Xiaowen. When he was an official under the authority of the General-In-Chief He Jin, Jin sent a messenger for Kuang to set out westward from Xu province towards the capital city with a force of five hundred crossbow-men. When he saw Jin defeated Kuang returned to his home province. He was promoted and made Grand Administrator of Henei. Xie Cheng in the Book of Latter Han states: In his youth Kuang was friends with Cai Yong. The year in which he came to be defeated by Zhou’s army he went back to Taishan, gathering together the brave and strong, and all told he obtained thousands of men, hoping to join together with Zhang Miao as allies. Kuang had earlier killed the Bearer of the Gilded Mace Hu Mu Ban. Ban’s relatives were unbearably angry and joined forces with the Great Ancestor to kill Kuang.
19: The Record of Heroes states: Miao was styled Yuanwei and was a son of the Xuan clan. Previously he had been the Provincial Governor of Yan province and was possessed of much dignity and kindheartedness.
20: Yi was styled Boye and was an elder clansman of Yuan Shao. Zhang Chao of Hejian had earlier recommended Yi to the Grand Commandant Zhu Jun and praised him, saying, “Through his virtue he is a leader of the age, and he has the talent to seize upon opportunity. His loyalty leads him to aid in fighting injustice and to support the Son of Heaven where there is disorder; for this reason he has collected the local records, sorted according to all of the family names, to be presented to the emperor so that they may be taxed. By this one can see the reason for his good reputation and why his services should now be requested, for in a far-off location his talents are wasted in comparison (to what he can do for us here).” His work led to an increase in tax collections. The Record of Heroes states: Shao later employed Yi in the position of Inspector of Yang province but he lost the place to Yuan Shu. The Great Ancestor commented, “Of those who have matured and are still able to be industrious learners there are only myself and Yuan Boye.” This statement was discovered in Dianlun by Emperor Wen.
21: Xin’s deeds can be viewed in the records of his son Xun.

In the second month, Zhuo learned of the army being raised and therefore shifted both the residence of the Son of Heaven and the capital to Changan. Zhuo remained garrisoned at Luoyang and forthwith he set fire to the palaces. At this time Shao had troops stationed at Henei, Miao, Dai, Mao and Yi were stationing troops at Suanzao, Shu had his troops stationed at Nanyang, Zhou was stationing his soldiers at Yingzhuan and Fu was in Ye. Zhuo’s force was superior in size and amongst Shao and his compatriots there were none who dared be the first to advance. The Great Ancestor said, “A righteous army has been raised to put an end to the rebellion and all of us have now gathered, how can you gentlemen be indecisive? If previously Dong Zhuo has learned that an army has been raised at Shandong he will rely on the power of the royal household and occupy the fortifications of the two Zhou, and then move eastward so as to control the empire; although he will accomplish this through injustice it will still be more than enough to imperil us. Now he has set fire to the palaces and absconded with the Son of Heaven. Within the country there is disorder and the people do not know whom to follow, this is Heaven’s sign that it is time for him to perish. One battle and the empire will be settled, we cannot miss this oppurtunity.” Straightaway he led his soldiers to the west, and was going to seize Chenggao. Miao sent his general Wei Zi with a contingent of soldiers to accompany the Great Ancestor. Arriving at the river Bian in Xingyang he encountered Zhuo’s general Xu Rong but in the ensuing battle he was unsuccessful and a great many of his soldiers were killed or injured. The Great Ancestor was struck by a stray arrow. The horse he was riding was also injured so his cousin Hong took his horse and gave it to the Great Ancestor, who fled far off into the night. Rong had seen that the Great Ancestor had had only a small force but that they had fought at full strength for the whole day, and realized that Suanzao would not be easy to take. Therefore he led his troops away.

When the Great Ancestor arrived at Suanzao he saw that the lords’ forces were more than one hundred thousand strong yet daily they congregated and gave themselves over to drink instead of planning how to advance their cause. The Great Ancestor demanded they cease this behavior and proposed a stratagem, saying, “Gentlemen, listen now to my plan: We can use the Lord of Bohai to lead the troops massed at Henei into Mengjin while the rest of the lords at Suanzao will guard Chenggao, seize Aocang, and occupy Yuanhuan and Taigu; in this way we will control all of the strategic places. We can employ Yuan Shu to lead his forces at Nanyang into Dan and Xin before entering Wu pass, so as to shake up the three territories surrounding the capital. In every case we must build tall ramparts and deep encircling walls, not engaging in battle but rather seeming greater by utilizing deceptive forces. By showing the whole of the Empire the nature of our strength, and by using righteousness to destroy the rebels, we can put an end to the disorder. Now troops have righteously been assembled yet you hold onto doubtfulness and so do not advance. You are disappointing the empire and I feel ashamed for all of you!” Miao and the others would not make use of his plan.

The Great Ancestor had but few soldiers and so joined with Xiahou Dun and his men and traveled to Yang province to raise more troops. The Prefect, Chen Wen, and the Grand Administrator of Danyang gave their force of more than four thousand troops to them. On traveling on to Longkang most of the soldiers rebelled. (22) On reaching Jiangping in Zhi county he again collected troops, obtaining more than a thousand men, before encamping at Henei.

22: The Book of Wei states: The soldiers planned to rebel and one night they set fire to the Great Ancestor’s tent. The Great Ancestor then with his short sword slew ten of them, and the rest fled. He was then able to leave his encampment and there were only five hundred men left who had not rebelled.

Liu Dai and Qiao Mao hated each other, so Dai killed Mao, and had Wang Gong take Mao’s place as Grand Administrator of Dong province.

Yuan Shao and Han Fu were plotting to set up Liu Yu, the Governor of You province, as emperor but the Great Ancestor was against it. (23) Shao also obtained a jade seal and at the Great Ancestor’s seat passed it in the direction of his elbow The Great Ancestor responded with derisive laughter and loathing. (24)

23: The Book of Wei states that the Great Ancestor responded to Shao, saying, “Dong Zhuo’s crimes are known everywhere within the four seas. I and others like me came together to raise a righteous army. There were none that refused to answer the call and this all occurred out of desire to act righteously. The young king is small and helpless and a treacherous official controls him. He is not a Chang Yi, with the taint of ruining the country. Moreover, to so quickly make a change, with the empire in such a state, who could pacify it? You gentlemen are facing north, and I am facing to the west.”
24: The Book of Wei states: The Great Ancestor laughed loudly, saying, “I will not listen to you.” Shao persisted, sending someone to persuade the Great Ancestor, saying, “Now, Shao has held command over numerous armed forces, he has raised two sons to maturity and everyone gathers about him as a hero; who can rival this?” The Great Ancestor did not answer. For the sake of keeping the peace he did not confront Shao, instead making plans to utterly destroy him.

In the spring of the second year Shao and Fu forthwith made so as to establish Yu as emperor, but in the end Yu dared not accept.

In the summer, during the fourth month, Zhuo returned to Changan.

In the fall, during the seventh month, Yuan Shao coerced Han Fu into letting him take possession of Ji province.

The Black Mountain bandits Yu Du, Bai Rao, Sui Gu and men totaling more than ten thousand plundered Wei commandery and Dong commandery. Wang Gong was unable to resist them but the Great Ancestor led a force into Dong commandery where he attacked Bai Ro at Puyang and defeated him. On this basis Yuan Shao recommended that the Great Ancestor be made Grand Administrator of Dong commandery, and the Great Ancestor set up his government at Dongwuyang.

In the spring of the third year, while the Great Ancestor’s army was at Dunqiu, Du and his cohorts attacked Dongwuyang. The Great Ancestor therefore led his army westward into the hills and attacked Du and the others at the base of their operations. (25) When Du got wind of this he relinquished control of Wuyang and went back. The Great Ancestor waylaid Sui Gu and also attacked Yufuluo of the Xiongnu at Neihuang, and in both cases he thoroughly defeated them. (26)

25: The Book of Wei states: The various generals were all of the opinion that they should return and come to the rescue. The Great Ancestor said, “Sun Bin went to the aid of Zhao by attacking Wei but Geng Yan wished to go west to secure his land from attack and keep on the lookout for trouble. If the bandits hear that I have gone west and so return then Wuyang will be liberated all by itself; if I do not go back then I will be able to wipe out their base of operations and the robbers will most certainly not be able to take Wuyang.” At this they straightaway continued forward.
26: The Book of Wei states: Yufuluo was the son of the Chief of the Southern Xiongnu. In the middle of Zhongping the Xiongnu sent out an armed force led Yufuluo, with the purpose of destroying the Han. In his homeland a rebel group revolted and killed the Chief of the Southern Xiongnu. Yufuluo then decided that he and his numerous soldiers would remain in China. Since the empire had yielded to disorder he joined up with the White Storm bandits west of the Yellow River, ravaging Taiyuan and Henei, looting and pillaging every county and otherwise behaving as bandits.

In the summer, during the fourth month, the Minister Over the Masses Wang Yun joined with Lü Bu and together they killed Zhuo. Zhuo’s generals Li Jue, Guo Si and others killed Yun and attacked Bu. Bu was defeated and he fled eastward out Wu Pass. Jue and the others then usurped control of the imperial government.

A multitude of the Yellow Turbans in Qing province, numbering one million, entered Yan province, killed the Chancellor of Rencheng Zheng Sui, and then changed course, entering Dongping. Liu Dai wanted to attack them but Bao Xin remonstrated with him, saying, “There are a great many bandits, one million of them, the common people are all in panic, and the soldiers lack the will to fight; you cannot hope to oppose them. I observe that the bandits are coming together in great numbers, and their fellows following suit, but their armies lack military supplies and only by robbing and plundering can they be supplied. It would be better for you to raise a force of many soldiers and erect stout defenses in advance. They may wish for battle but will not get it, and not being able to attack again they will certainly disperse. Afterwards if you select your crack troops, seize the strategic places and strike at them then they can be defeated.” Dai would not follow his advice and forthwith took part in battle, and consequently he was killed there. (27) Thereupon Xin, along with the provincial official Wan Qian and others, traveled to Dong commandery to lead the Great Ancestor off to become Governor of Yan province. Then they led an army out to attack the Yellow Turbans east of Shouzhang. Xin fought valiantly, battling down to his last breath, and only because of him were they able to defeat them. (28) They offered a reward to locate Xin’s corpse but they couldn’t find it, so together they carved a piece of wood so that it bore Xin’s likeness, offering sacrifice and weeping before it. They chased the Yellow Turbans into Jibei and the Turbans begged to surrender. That winter, they received the surrender of more than three thousand soldiers, more than a million men and women of the surrounding populace and they took all of their crack troops and named them the Qing province army.

27: The Shi Yu states: When Dai had already died, Chen Gong spoke to the Great Ancestor, saying, “The province is now without a leader as the Prefect’s life has been cut short. I will ask and persuade them to let you take control of the province, and thereafter we can move beyond merely ruling the prefecture, using its resources to take control of the empire, and pursuing the business of hegemony.” Gong spoke to them of the Great Ancestor’s ability to rein in disorder, and of his governing ability, saying, “The empire is split apart and the province is without a leader. Cao Dongjun is destined to be the greatest man of his generation and if you welcome him as ruler of this province he will certainly bring peace to the people.” Bao Xin and the others agreed in their assessment.
28: The Book of Wei states: The Great Ancestor took more than a thousand infantry and cavalrymen out to inspect the battlefield and the forces defending the enemy camp when he was engaged in battle and lost. The dead numbered in the hundreds and so he led them away again. Meanwhile, the bandits wished to press on. The Yellow Turbans went on pillaging for a long time, their numbers swelled with each victory and their soldiers were all spirited and able. The Great Ancestor had but few of his former troops, the new recruits were unskilled and untrained and the entire army was fearful. The Great Ancestor put on his armor, donned his helmet and went personally to make the rounds of the officers and men. He spoke, making known to them the rewards and punishments for their behavior, whereupon the mass of them redoubled their efforts. In the intervening period they undertook to ask to make an attack. The bandits were damaged somewhat and retreated. The bandits thereupon sent a letter to the Great Ancestor that read: “Formerly, in Jinan you destroyed the spiritual altars, this course was very much in accord with the Yellow, but if then you then were aware, now you are confused. Han has come to its end and the Yellow will take its place. It is the supreme fate of Heaven and you cannot through force of will prevent it.” The Great Ancestor on seeing this dispatched a letter in reply wherein he hurled invective upon them and repeatedly called upon them to surrender their position. Straightaway he set about surprising them with an ambush, and day and night his troops were assembled for battle. Engaging in combat soon after, he caught and defeated them, and the bandits thereupon fled and went away.

There was discord between Yuan Shu and Shao, and Shu sought aid from Gongsun Zan. Zan sent Liu Bei to garrison Gaotang, Chan Jing to garrison Pingyuan and Tao Qian to garrison Fugan, for the purpose of encroaching on Shao. The Great Ancestor and Shao joined forces to attack and in every case they defeated them.

In the spring of the fourth year his army was stationed in Juancheng. The Governor of Jing province Liu Biao had broken Shu’s supply lines and Shu led his army into Chenliu, stationing his troops at Fengqiu where the remainder of the Black Mountain bandits and Yufuluo’s men lent him their aid. Shu sent his general Liu Xiang to garrison Kuangting. The Great Ancestor attacked Xiang and Shu came to his aid, joining in the battle but the Great Ancestor inflicted a huge defeat upon him. Shu withdrew to the defenses of Fengqiu so the Great Ancestor surrounded him but it was not completed and Shu fled to Xiangyi. The Great Ancestor chased him to Taishou and cut off the canal supplying water to the city. He traveled to Ningling but once again they chased him and he traveled on to Jiujiang. In the summer, the Great Ancestor returned his army to Dingtao.

In Xiapi Que Xuan gathered a group of thousand men and styled himself the Son of Heaven. The Governor of Xu province Tao Qian took joint military action with him. In Taishan commandery he seized Hua, Fei and he plundered Rencheng. That autumn the Great Ancestor attacked Tao Qian, seizing more than ten cities, but Qian remained guarding the city walls, not daring to come out.

That year, Sun Ce received orders from Yuan Shu to cross the Yangtze, and in the space of a few years he would come to possess Jiangdong.

During the spring of the first year of Xingping the Great Ancestor himself returned to Xu province. Earlier the Great Ancestor’s father Song, after leaving his official post and returning to Qiao, had, during Dong Zhuo’s upheaval, escaped the troubles by going to Langye, where by means of Tao Qian he was killed. The Great Ancestor’s mind was set on taking vengeance so he launched an attack eastward (29) In the summer, he employed Xun Yu and Cheng Yu to guard Juancheng and again sent an expedition against Tao Qian, capturing five cities and ravaging the land all the way up to the East China Sea. He moved on to Tan, and Qian employed Cao Bao and Liu Bei to garrison to the east of Tan, so as to impinge on the Great Ancestor. The Great Ancestor attacked and defeated them, and then attacked and captured Xiangben. In the places his path crossed there was much destruction and killing. (30)

29: The Shi Yu states: Song was then in Hua county, within Taishan commandery. The Great Ancestor ordered the Grand Administrator of Taishan, Ling Shao, to escort Song into Yan province but Shao’s army never arrived. Tao Qian secretly dispatched several thousand cavalrymen to surprise and capture him. Song believed it was Shao who was coming and so had set up no defenses. When Qian’s soldiers arrived they killed the Great Ancestor’s younger brother De as he stood in the doorway. Song was afraid and plunged through to the back of the house but his concubine was before him; she was fat and he could not get past her. Song fled to the lavatory and along with his concubine was murdered, and the entire family perished. Shao became afraid and abandoned his government post to go over to Yuan Shao. Later on, by the time the Great Ancestor had taken control of Ji province Shao was already dead. Wei Yao’s Book of Wu states: The Great Ancestor was preparing to welcome Song, along with his baggage train loaded with all manner of money and valuables. Tao Qian dispatched his military officer Zhang Kai to take two hundred cavalrymen to protect Song, but when Kai was between Hua and Fei in Taishan commandery he killed Song, took all of his valuables and quickly hurried into Huainan. The Great Ancestor placed the blame on Tao Qian and for this reason sent an expedition against him.
30: Sun Cheng states: A man should punish the tyrant but give comfort to the people; such is the course of action decreed by the ancients. But the Great Ancestor, because he blamed Qian, traveled about destroying also those under Qian’s jurisdiction.

It so happened that Zhang Miao and Chen Gong rebelled and welcomed in Lü Bu, and all of the commanderies and counties followed him. Xun Yu and Cheng Yu defended the cities of Juancheng, Fan and Dong’a, but this left only two counties with solid defenses, so the Great Ancestor therefore led his army back. Bu arrived and attacked Juancheng but he was unable to capture it so he went to the west and encamped at Puyang. The Great Ancestor said, “Bu has in one day obtained an entire province but he was too incompetent to seize Dongping, cut off the Kangfu and Taishan roads and avail himself of the strategic passes to imperil me. As he instead encamps at Puyang, I know that the requisite ability.” Forthwith he led his army forward to attack him. Bu brought his army out to fight, and he first had his cavalrymen attack the soldiers from Qing province. The Qing province soldiers panicked and fled, and the Great Ancestor, seeing the confusion, quickly galloped ahead when a fire broke out, and he fell from his horse, burning the palm of his left hand. The Major Lou Yi came to his aid and lifted him up onto his horse and then quickly led him away. (31) The army had not yet reached camp when they stopped, as none of the generals had yet come across the Great Ancestor, and they were all afraid. (On reuniting with the them) The Great Ancestor by his own hand drilled the army and, commanding them to quickly build siege weapons, advanced to attack Bu again. He faced off with Bu for more than one hundred days. Then a plague of locusts arose, the common people were all very hungry, Bu’s provisions and horse feed were also exhausted and they both led their armies away.

31: Yuan Wei, in the Annals of Emperor Xian/Xiandi Chunqiu, states: The Great Ancestor had surrounded Puyang, wherein the distinguished Tian family switched sides, the Great Ancestor thereby obtaining entrance to the city. He set fire to the eastern gate, demonstrating he had no intention of reversing course. Thereupon he came under attack and his army was defeated. Some of Bu’s cavalrymen had captured the Great Ancestor but were not aware it was he, and they asked, “Where is Cao Cao?” The Great Ancestor replied, “He is that person over there riding the yellow horse.” Bu’s cavalrymen thereupon released the Great Ancestor and chased after the man on the yellow horse. The gate fire was now blazing but the Great Ancestor quickly dashed through and escaped.

In the fall, during the ninth month, the Great Ancestor returned to Juancheng. Bu went to Shengshi, where Li Jin, a man from that county, defeated him, so he went east and stationed his troops in Shanyang. Thereupon, Shao sent a messenger to speak to the Great Ancestor and express his desire that they join together as allies. The Great Ancestor had newly lost Yan province and his army’s provisions were exhausted so he was going to consent to it. However, Cheng Yu stopped the Great Ancestor, and he yielded to him. In the winter, during the tenth month, the Great Ancestor went to Dong’a.

That year one hu of grain cost a sum of 500,000 and the people turned to eating each other, therefore he ceased seeking new recruits for the army. Tao Qian died and Liu Bei replaced him.

In the spring of the second year he attacked Dingtao. The Grand Administrator of Jiyin, Wu Zi, was defending Nancheng, as it had not yet been captured. When Lü Bu’s confederates arrived there they attacked and defeated Zi. In the summer, Lü Bu’s generals Xue Lan and Li Feng were garrisoned at Juye and the Great Ancestor attacked them. Bu came to Lan’s aid but Lan was defeated, and Bu retreated. Then the Great Ancestor beheaded Lan and his men. Bu returned from Dongmin and together with Chen Gong brought more than ten thousand soldiers, intent on fighting. At the time the Great Ancestor had but few soldiers so he set up an ambush. He led his army suddenly forward to attack and scored a decisive victory over Bu and Gong. (32) Bu retreated under cover of night and the Great Ancestor attacked again, capturing Dingtao, and he divided his army up to pacify the various counties. Bu quickly fled eastward to Liu Bei, and Zhang Miao followed him, sending a messenger to his younger brother Chao to gather up his family and defend Yongqiu. That fall, during the eighth month, the Great Ancestor surrounded Yongqiu. That winter, during the tenth month, the Son of Heaven recognized the Great Ancestor as Governor of Yan province. In the twelfth month Yongqiu‘s defenses were broken, Chao killed himself, and Miao’s family was exterminated to three generations. Miao went to Yuan Shu to ask for help, but his own men killed him on the way there. Yan province was pacified and the Great Ancestor went east to plunder the lands of Chen.

32: The Book of Wei states: Thereafter the majority of his army was out trying to obtain grain, and there were not even a thousand men left, so that the camp’s defenses were very unsure. The Great Ancestor therefore used women as soldiers to keep watch from the parapets so they would know the enemy army’s movements and so repel them. His camp was to the west of a levee, and to the south of a deep and serene forest. Bu did not believe that there was an ambush, wherefore his attendants spoke, saying, “Cao Cao is extremely deceitful: do not go into the midst of an ambush.” He led his army to camp more than ten li to the south. However, the next day he returned, and the Great Ancestor, of his army hidden within the levee, sent half outside the levee. Bu sped his advance and rashly ordered his soldiers to commence attack. He had already joined battle when the concealed army emerged from the levee, infantry and cavalry together advancing, and inflicted a massive defeat upon Bu, capturing his drum cart and pursuing him all the way to his camp before turning back.

That year Changan was in disorder as the Son of Heaven moved eastward, and was defeated at Caoyang before crossing the Yellow River and entering Anyi.

In the spring of the first year of Jianan, during the first month, the Great Ancestor’s army arrived at Wuping where Yuan Si, whom Yuan Shu had appointed Minister of Chen, surrendered.

The Great Ancestor was preparing to welcome the Son of Heaven but some of his generals were uncertain. Xun Yu and Cheng Yu persuaded him to go ahead and so he sent Cao Hong with soldiers to the west to welcome the Emperor. However, the General of the Guards Dong Cheng along with Yuan Shu’s general Chang Nu repelled him at the passes and Hong was unable to advance.

The Yellow Turbans He Yi, Liu Bi, Huang Shao and He Man, from Runan and Yingzhuan commanderies (in Yu province), each with a multitude of men numbering ten thousand, previously answered to Yuan Shu but later attached themselves to Sun Jian. In the second month the Great Ancestor led his army on a punitive expedition to smite them, beheading Bi, Shao and their men, while Yi and all of his men surrendered. The Son of Heaven appointed the Great Ancestor General Who Establishes Virtue. In the summer, during the sixth month, his title was changed to General of the East, and he was made Marquis of Feiting. In the autumn, during the seventh month, Yang Feng and Han Xian took the Son of Heaven and returned to Luoyang. (33) Feng left to garrison Liang. The Great Ancestor then arrived at Luoyang to protect the capital city and Xian fled away. The Son of Heaven bestowed upon the Great Ancestor the ceremonial axe and the position of Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing. (34) Since Luoyang was decrepit and in ruins Dong Zhao and his men advised the Great Ancestor to move the capital to Xu. In the ninth month the imperial carriage went east out through Huanyuan pass, and the Great Ancestor became General-In-Chief and was made Marquis of Wuping. Since the Son of Heaven moved from the west the imperial court had daily been in disorder, so it was only now that work was begun setting up the regulations of the ancestral temple and the state institutions. (35)

33: The Annal of Emperor Xian states: When the Son of Heaven first arrived at Luoyang he stayed in the room of the former Regular Palace Attendant Zhao Zhong, in the western part of the city. He directed Zhang Yang to build a replica of the old imperial palace, naming it Yangan Palace, and in the eighth month the Emperor thereupon changed residences.
34: The Record of Emperor Xian/Xiandi Ji states: The Great Ancestor also held the post of Colonel Director of Retainers.
35: Zhang Fan’s Han Ji states: Previously, when the Son of Heaven was defeated at Caoyang, he wished to float eastward down the river. The Emperor’s Advisor, the Taishi Ling Wang Li said, “Since the passing of spring, Venus has crossed paths with the star Zhen at Niudou, indicating disaster from Heaven should we cross the river. Mars also forbids it, overlooking the area north of the river, wherefore we should not violate these signs.” For this reason the Son of Heaven did not go north across the river, preparing himself to go east out through Zhi pass instead. Li spoke again, this time that the reign of the Liu clan was ending, saying, “Previously, Venus appeared over Tian pass, and had aligned with Mars; Metal has conjoined with Fire, foretelling a change in mandate. The good fortune of Han is at an end, and Wei and Jin are certain to ascend.” Afterward Li frequently spoke to the Emperor, saying, “The mandate of heaven changes, and the five elements do not hold their positions indefinitely. Earth takes the place of Fire, and Wei receives power from Han. The Cao family has the ability to pacify the empire and it is only by giving control over to them that the disorder will come to an end.” His excellency got wind of this and sent a messenger to Li, saying, “I know that you are steadfast and loyal to the imperial court but the true way of Heaven is elusive and distant, I trust that you will speak no more of this.”

When the Son of Heaven went east, Feng left from Liang with the intent of capturing him but he failed to reach him. In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency attacked Feng and Feng quickly fled south to Yuan Shu. He then attacked Feng’s base camp at Liang and captured it. Thereafter Yuan Shao was appointed to the post of Grand Commandant, but he was ashamed at his rank being beneath that of His Excellency and would not accept it. His Excellency thereupon insisted on resigning his position, allowing Shao to replace him as General-In-Chief. The Son of Heaven appointed His Excellency to the post of Minister of Works, as well as General of Chariots and Cavalry. That year the plan of Zao Zhi, Han Hao and others was utilized and they instituted the system of agricultural garrisons. (36)

36: The Book of Wei states: Since the time of disorder began the armies were all lacking in provisions. Of each army that was raised there were none able to count on (there being food enough) for the whole year. Out of hunger they turned to banditry and plundered grain, eating their fill and then discarding the rest. The armies fell apart and the soldiers went away and so countless times, lacking a real enemy they defeated themselves instead. Yuan Shao was at Hebei and the men in his army were relying on mulberries for food. Yuan Shu was at the River Huai and his soldiers fetched calamus and wasps for provisions. The people were feeding upon each other and all the villages within the province were desolate. His Excellency said, “Men set the policies of the state and it rests with them to strive to provide the soldiers with sufficient provisions. The men of Qin in pressing need doubled the agricultural output of the empire and Xiao Wu utilized agricultural garrisons to stabilize the western lands, wherefore we should emulate these good works from earlier times.” That year he gathered up civilians for the agricultural garrisons around Xu, with a resulting harvest of more than one million hu of grain. Thereafter the rest of the commanderies in the province followed suit and set up government regulation of farmland, and therein was a great accumulation of grain. He then dispatched expeditions in the four cardinal directions and, no longer having to bear the burden of transporting provisions, he was simultaneously able to both put down the bandits and pacify the land.

Lü Bu attacked Liu Bei and captured Xiapi. Bei fled to His Excellency. Cheng Yu said to Duke Cao, “I can see that Liu Bei is of heroic ability and to a large degree has captured the hearts of the people. In the end he will not serve under you so it would be best to deal with him now.” His Excellency replied, “Now is the time to be receiving great heroes, to kill one would be to lose the hearts of the empire, therefore I cannot.”

Zhang Ji traveled from Guanzhong to Nanyang. When Ji died his nephew Xiu took control of his soldiers. In the second year, during the first month of spring, His Excellency went to Wan. Zhang Xiu was getting ready to surrender but then regretted his decision and again rebelled. His Excellency did battle with him and his army was defeated. He was struck by a stray arrow, and as a result his eldest son Ang and his nephew Anmin came to a bad end. (37) He therefore lead his army back to Wuyin, and Xiu was preparing ride forth and plunder when His Excellency attacked and defeated him. Xiu quickly fled to Rang where he took refuge with Liu Biao. His Excellency addressed all of his generals, saying, “I received Zhang Xiu’s surrender but I made the mistake of not immediately taking his hostages, with this as the result. I am responsible for our defeat here. All of you are witness to the fact that from today onward I will not be defeated again.” He then returned to Xu. (38)

37: The Book of Wei states: The horse that His Excellency was riding was called Jue Ying, and he was struck by stray arrows, injuring him through the cheek and in the foot, and His Excellency was also injured, in the right arm. The Shi Yu states: Ang was unable to ride so he led his horse to Duke Cao. Because of this he was able to escape, but as a result Ang came to a bad end.
38: The Shi Yu states: Under the old system, when one of the Three Dukes took command of the army and came before the emperor, the double-forked halberd would be laid upon his neck and he would be brought forward. At first, when His Excellency was preparing to send a force against Zhang Xiu, he went to have an imperial audience with the Son of Heaven, as at that time they had renewed the old system. From that time on, however, His Excellency did not go to have an audience with the Emperor.

At Huainan, Yuan Shu desired to proclaim himself Emperor, and he sent a messenger to inform Lü Bu. Bu apprehended the messenger and submitted it to the imperial court. Shu was indignant and attacked Bu but Bu defeated him. In the autumn, during the ninth month, Shu invaded Chen and His Excellency went east to attack him. Shu got wind of his approach, abandoned his army and fled, leaving his generals Qiao Rui, Li Feng, Liang Gang and Yue Jiu to stay behind; when His Excellency arrived he attacked and defeated Rui and his men, beheading every one of them. Shu fled across the Huai, His Excellency returned to Xu.

No sooner had he returned from Wuyin than, in support of Xiu, Zhangling and the other counties of Nanyang again rebelled. His Excellency dispatched Cao Hong to strike them but he was unsuccessful, returning to encamp at Ye. Both Xiu and Biao would frequently send forces to invade the area. In the winter, during the eleventh month, His Excellency himself went south to attack, traveling to Wan. (39) Biao’s general Deng Ji seized Huyang. His Excellency attacked and captured him, and when he took Ji captive Huyang surrendered. He then attacked and subdued Wuyin.

39: The Book of Wei states: When he reached the River Yu he offered sacrifices to the spirits of his deceased generals and soldiers. He sobbed and sighed, shedding tears, and everyone was moved to deep sorrow.

In the first month of the third year, during the spring, His Excellency returned to Xu, and the first thing he did was to establish the post of Counselor of Military Sacrifices. In the third month, His Excellency surrounded Zhang Xiu at Rang. In the summer, during the fifth month, Liu Biao dispatched a force to rescue Xiu, intending to cutoff the opposing army’s avenue of retreat. (40) His Excellency was making plans to lead his troops away when Xiu’s army came out to pursue him. His Excellency’s army was not ready to advance as they had made camp just a little while before. He gave Xun Yu a letter that said, “The bandits have come out to pursue me, but even if I am daily pursued over great distances I have a plan ready for them, and on arriving at Anzhong Xiu is certain to be defeated.” On arriving at Anzhong, Xiu joined with Biao’s army to guard the strategic passes and enemies both in front and behind pressured His Excellency’s army. Therefore, under cover of night He dug a tunnel into the passes, passing military supplies through it and placing troops in ambush. When the armies gathered the next day, the bandits said to themselves that if His Excellency should flee, their army would pursue him every time. His Excellency set loose the ambushing troops and attacked the bandits from both sides with infantry and cavalry, massively defeating them. During the autumn, in the seventh month, His Excellency returned to Xu. Xun Yu asked him, “Earlier you were certain that your plan would defeat the bandits. How did you know?” Duke Cao replied, “The enemy blocked the return of my army and joined battle with me in life-threatening terrain, therefore I knew I would be victorious.”

40: The Annal of Emperor Xian states: Yuan Shao reported a rebellion to His Excellency, saying, “Tian Feng has sent Shao Zhao to raid Xu and take control of the Emperor, so as to control the granting of marquisates and be able to conduct the affairs within the four seas and bring peace.” He thereupon released Xiu from his encirclement.

Later on Lü Bu was again acting on behalf of Yuan Shu and sent Gao Shun to attack Liu Bei. His Excellency dispatched Xiahou Dun to save him but he was unsuccessful, and Bei was defeated by Shun. In the ninth month His Excellency led his army east to attack Bu. In the winter, during the tenth month, he massacred the inhabitants of Pengcheng, capturing its Chancellor Hou Xie. He traveled onward to Xiapi and Bu himself prepared to ride out to oppose the attack. His Excellency massively defeated him and captured Bu’s valiant general Cheng Lian. His Excellency pursued him up to the city walls. Within, Bu was afraid, and wanted to surrender. Chen Gong and his men stopped his plan (to surrender), and seeking help from Shu, advised Bu to go out and fight. On fighting Bu was again defeated, and thereupon went back to holding his ground and on attack the city could not be captured. At this time His Excellency had repeatedly attacked, his soldiers were tired and he wished to leave, so he tasked Xun You and Guo Jia with a carrying out a stratagem. Straightway they breached the dykes around the Si and Yi rivers so as to flood the city. Later that month, Bu’s generals Song Xian, Wei Xu and their men took Chen Gong captive and opened the city gates in surrender, giving over Bu and Gong to Duke Cao as captives, and he executed them both. At Taishan Zang Ba, Sun Guan, Wu Dun, Yin Li and Chang Xi all had raised a multitude of men. After Bu’s defeat of Liu Bei Ba and all of his men yielded their services to Bu. When Bu was defeated, His Excellency captured Ba and his men and generously received them. Forthwith from the territory of the two provinces of Qing and Xu he granted them all appointments, dividing Langye, Donghai and Beihai commanderies to form the commanderies of Chengyang, Licheng and Changlu.

Earlier, when His Excellency was head of Yan province, he appointed Bi Cheng Aide-de-Camp of Dongping. At the time of Zhang Miao’s rebellion Miao abducted Chen’s mother, brother, wife and children. Duke Cao thanked him for his service and dismissed him, saying, “Your aged mother is now with the enemy, you may go.” Chen made his obeisance, vowing not to be disloyal and Duke Cao praised him, and wept freely for him. After leaving, he then went over to the other side. When Bu was defeated Chen was taken alive, and everyone was fearful on his behalf, but Duke Cao said, “If a man shows filial piety toward his parents, how can he not also be loyal to his sovereign! I seek such as these.” And he appointed Chen Chancellor of Lu. (41)

41: The Book of Wei states: Yuan Shao had in past times been at odds with the Grand Commandant Yang Biao, the Chief Eunuch Liang Shao and the Privy Treasurer Kong Rong, so he wanted Duke Cao to find some fault for which to execute them. His Excellency said, “Presently the domain of the empire has collapsed like broken tiles, brave heroes have gathered and come forth and aided the rise of various lords. Men’s hearts are filled with discontent and every man follows his own inner desire, consequently in troubled times our judgement of others fluctuates. Yet, though accordingly they should be treated without suspicion, still you are fearful and do not trust them. If we remove those such as these, by that standard who would not find himself in danger? Moreover, just as a person may rise up from common origins, distancing himself from existing among the dust and dirt, so too can a ne’er-do-well change and overcome his defects, and be able to triumph over resentment! The High Founder forgave Yong Chi’s enmity and the feelings of the people were set at ease, how can you forget this?” Shao believed that His Excellency superficially espoused impartiality and righteousness but on the inside really did not adhere to them, and in his heart he grew deeply resentful toward him. Your Servant Song is of this opinion: Yang Biao later was endangered by the King of Wei, and nearly lost his life, and in truth Kong Rong was unable to avoid being executed. Here is what it means to first profess certain behavior but not follow it later! One must be honest in one’s conduct to avoid reproach.

In the second month of the fourth year, during the spring, His Excellency went back to Changyi. Zhang Yang was killed by his general Yang Chou, and then Sui Gu killed Chou, and with his troops went over to Yuan Shao, who was stationed at Shequan. In the summer, during the fourth month, His Excellency advanced his army to the Yellow River and then tasked Shi Huan and Cao Ren to cross the river and attack Gu. Gu tasked his former chief Clerk of Yang Xue Hong and the Grand Administrator of Henei Miao Shang to stay behind and guard while he himself prepared to his army to go north and seek aid from Shao, when he came across Huan and Ren at Quancheng. Huan and Ren engaged him in battle, inflicted a massive defeat on Gu and beheaded him. His Excellency then crossed the river and surrounded Shequan. Hong and Shang led out their troops to surrender and His Excellency conferred upon each of them the rank of Marquis. He appointed Wei Zhong as Grand Administrator of Henei, with control over the affairs north of the river.

Earlier, he had nominated Zhong as filially Pious and Incorrupt. Yan province rebelled and His Excellency said, “Wei Zhong is the only one who will not desert me.” On hearing that Zhong had gone away, he indignantly exclaimed, “Zhong, unless you travel south to the Yue or north to the Hu, I will never leave you be!” When he subdued Shequan Zhong was captured alive; His Excellency exclaimed, “But he is a talented man!”, released his bonds and employed him.

After Yuan Shao had already absorbed Gongsun Zan he simultaneously controlled four provinces’ worth of territory, and a throng of more than one hundred thousand men, and was preparing to lead his army forth to attack Xu. All of His Excellency’s generals believed he would not be able to match Shao, but His Excellency said, “I understand Shao’s conduct, he has a strong will but lacks wisdom, and his countenance is severe but his courage is weak. He fears defeat but lacks strength, and though he has many soldiers he does not understand how to plot strategy. His generals are arrogant and his government’s decrees are inconsistent; even though he has vast territory and abundant provisions, that merely makes it a suitably opportune time for me to take over.” In the autumn, during the eighth month, His Excellency led his army to Liyang and tasked Zang Ba and his men with entering Qing province to attack Qi, Beihai and Dongan, while having Yu Jin stay and guard Heshang. In the ninth month, His Excellency returned to Xu and assigned a portion of his army to guard Guandu. In the winter, during the eleventh month, Zhang Xiu led out his men to surrender and His Excellency conferred him with the rank of Marquis. In the twelfth month His Excellency’s army was at Guandu.

Since his defeat at Chen Yuan Shu had become somewhat ill, so Yuan Tan was dispatched from Qing province to welcome him in. Shu wished to cross north from Xiapi and His Excellency dispatched Liu Bei and Zhu Ling to harass him. On meeting them Shu fell sick and died. When Cheng Yu and Guo Jia heard that His Excellency had dispatched Bei they spoke to him, saying, “Liu Bei should not be set loose.” His Excellency regretted his action and pursued Bei but was unable to catch him. When Bei had not yet gone east he and Dong Cheng had made secret plans to rebel. On arriving at Xiapi he killed the Inspector of Xu province Ju Zhou, raised an army and stationed them at Pei. His Excellency dispatched Liu Dai and Wang Zhong to attack him but it was unsuccessful. (42)

42: The Annal of Emperor Xian states: Bei spoke to Dai and the others, saying, “The lot of you have been tasked to come here, but it is not enough to overcome me; Duke Cao himself could come, and he could not make me listen!” The Story of the King of Wei states: Wang Zhong, who was accustomed to subsisting on people, in his youth served as Ting Chang. When the Three Adjuncts were in disorder, Zhong was hungry and tired of eating people so he followed his colleagues south out Wu Pass. It so happened that Lou Zibo on behalf of Jing province sent men to welcome them from the north as his guests, but Zhong did not wish to go. For this reason he led the others in revolt against him, stealing his army and amassing a throng of men more than one thousand strong in order to return to Duke Cao. Zhong was appointed General of the Gentlemen of the Household, following which he was sent on a military expedition. The General for All Purposes was aware that Zhong had at one time eaten men and so, following his carriage as he set out on his journey, as a joke he took a skull from a grave and tied it to the saddle of Zhong’s horse, and Zhong replied by smiling and laughing.

The Grand Administrator of Lujiang Liu Xun led his men out to surrender and was conferred the rank of Marquis.

In the fifth year, during the spring and in the first month, Dong Cheng and his fellows’ scheme leaked out and all of them were executed. His Excellency was prepared to go east to attack Bei but his generals all said, “Yuan Shao is the one struggling with you over the empire. Now that Shao is heading in this direction if you abandon this place and go east, Shao will take advantage of you from behind, how can you do this?” His Excellency replied, “This Liu Bei is an outstanding personality, if I do not strike at him now, he will surely be trouble for me in the future. (43) Though Yuan Shao is of great ambition, he is slow to see an opportunity, thus he certainly will not come.” Guo Jia similarly advised him so forthwith he went east and attacked Bei, defeating him and taking prisoner his general Xiahou Bo. Bei fled to Shao, and His Excellency captured his wives. Bei’s general Guan Yu was stationed at Xiapi and when His Excellency advanced again to attack him Yu surrendered. Chang Xi revolted in support of Bei and His Excellency again attacked, defeating him. When he returned to Guandu, Shao’s soldiers had not come.

43: Sun Sheng’s Annal of the Wei Clan/Wei Shi Chunqiu states: His Excellency replied to all of his generals, saying, “Liu Bei is an outstanding personality and in the future will cause me much grief.” Your servant Song is of the opinion that of historical records a great many are embellished. For this reason, if the earlier records are actually untruthful in their accounts, and the later scholars in addition make it their business to alter them, and so are inconsistent with the facts, is this not moving even farther away from the truth? In all of Sun Sheng’s compositions he makes use of contrary clan records in order to alter the earlier accounts, thusly this is not the only instance. Alas, which accounts should later students choose to believe? Moreover, the King of Wei was directed towards fulfilling grandiose ambitions, the usage here is another mistake as he is made to speak rigidly, which especially is not his style.

In the second month, Shao dispatched Guo Tu, Chunyu Qiong and Yan Liang to attack the Grand Administrator of Dongjun Liu Yan at Baima, while Shao led his troops to Liyang and prepared to cross the river. In the summer, during the fourth month, His Excellency went north to rescue Yan. Xun You counseled him, saying, “Presently your soldiers are fewer and no match for the enemy, you must divide his forces so that you can match them. If you go to Yanjin and make it seem as if you are going to cross your troops in the direction of the latter, Shao will certainly move to the west in response. Thereafter if with a light force you raid Baima, you will catch him unawares and Yan Liang can be captured.” His Excellency followed his advice. When Shao heard of soldiers crossing he immediately sent part of his army west in response. Thereupon he simultaneously led his army quickly to Baima, and he had not gone more than ten li when Liang became greatly alarmed and turned back to attack. His Excellency sent Zhang Liao and Guan Yu to lead the attack, routing and then beheading Liang. Forthwith he broke the siege of Baima and moved its citizens, following the river westward. Shao therefore crossed the river to pursue his army until he arrived south of Yanjin. His Excellency reined in his soldiers and encamped beneath a hillside to the south. Someone was sent to scale the hillside and take a look at Shao’s forces, saying, “There are approximately five or six hundred cavalrymen.” A moment later he reported again, “Of cavalry there are a bit more, and innumerable infantrymen.” His Excellency replied, “Don’t report again.” Thereupon he ordered his cavalrymen to untie their saddles and release their horses. At the time military supplies taken from Baima were lying in the road. All of his generals felt that there were too many enemy cavalrymen and that it would be better to return and defend their camp. Xun You said, “The purpose of this is to bait the enemy, what would be accomplished by leaving?” Shao’s cavalry general Wen Chou with Liu Bei set out with a total of five or six thousand cavalrymen. His Excellency’s generals again all said, “We should saddle up.” His Excellency replied, “Not yet.” A few moments later, when the cavalrymen had come a bit closer, and some of them separated from the rest and began going after the military supplies, His Excellency said, “Now you may.” Thereupon all of them mounted their horses. At the time His Excellency had not even six hundred cavalrymen and forthwith he loosed his soldiers to attack, massively defeating the enemy and beheading Chou. Liang and Chou were both of Shao’s famous generals and in two battles they were both captured, leaving Shao’s army greatly shaken. His Excellency returned his army to Guandu, Shao advanced to defend Yangwu and Guan Yu fled, returning to Liu Bei.

In the eighth month, Shao made camp just in front of His Excellency, using sand dunes for his encampment and extending to the east and west for ten li. His Excellency also placed his correspondingly, and joined battle, to his detriment. (44) At the time he had not ten thousand soldiers and out of every ten two or three were injured. (45) Shao again advanced to Guandu, and he raised up mounds of earth and dug out underground paths. His Excellency from within his encampment did the same in response. Shao fired into his camp, the arrows were like rain coming down, pedestrians all had to be covered with shields and the masses were greatly frightened. At this time His Excellency’s provisions were running low, and he sent a letter to Xun Yu in which he discussed his desire to return to Xu. Yu’s opinion was that, “Shao has gathered all of his forces at Guandu and wishes to decide with you who is victorious and who is defeated. To this point you have matched the weak against the strong and if you are not able to restrain him he will surely take advantage, this is a critical juncture for the empire. Moreover, Shao is the hero of the common people only and though he is able to gather men he is unable to use them. You are a true hero on account of your military skill, bright wisdom and great loyalty, how can things not go well for you!” His Excellency followed his advice.

44: Xi Zuochi’s Annals of Han and Jin/Han Jin Chunqiu states: Xu You counseled Shao, saying, “Your lordship does not have to face Cao directly in battle. If you press with one division of your army and so restrain him, you may take the path away from him and go to welcome in the Son of Heaven, and then the matter will be settled in your favor.” Shao did not follow his advice, saying, “I am going to lead the vanguard and surround and capture him.” You was indignant.
45: Your servant Song believes that the King of Wei, when he first raised up soldiers, had already gathered a multitude of five thousand, and that from then on he was victorious in nearly every battle, and so his losses would be no more than two or three out of every ten. Moreover, in a single defeat of the Yellow Turbans he accepted the surrender of three hundred thousand soldiers, though we are not able to know the record of the rest of those whom he absorbed. Even though he incurred losses in military expeditions he still should not have had so few soldiers. For men to fortify their camps and defend against each other is different from ravaging each other at swordpoint in pitched battle. The Ben Ji states: Shao had a multitude of more than one hundred thousand soldiers and his encampment extended to the east and west for ten li. Though changing circumstances had gone against the Great Ancestor of Wei, and his strategy had not worked, he is depicted as being satisfied with having only a few thousand soldiers, but if he did not have more than is said, how could he face and resist the enemy? By applying reasoning to the records I presume to show that they are incorrect. Shao used an area of ten li for his camp, and Great Ancestor of Wei placed his camp in corresponding fashion facing him. From this, his forces must not have been so very few; this is one reason. If Shao had ten times as many men he logically ought to have had all the power needed both to besiege and defend, and use them to cut off Great Ancestor of Wei’s comings and goings. However, Great Ancestor of Wei used Xu Huang and his men to attack Shao’s transport carts and also went out himself to attack Chunyu Qiong and his men, flying Shao’s flags, intermingling with the enemy and infiltrating them without resistance. It is clear that Shao’s strength was not sufficient to restrain him, therefore his forces must not have been so very few; this is the second reason. All of the records say that Great Ancestor of Wei buried seventy or eighty thousand of Shao’s troops alive. If eighty thousand men were to scatter and flee he would not be able to tie them down with only eight thousand men, yet this multitude of Shao’s men all submissively went forward to their deaths; by what means did he have strength enough to restrain them? Truly, his forces must not have been so very few; this is the third reason. That the transcribers wished for his forces to seem to be few is strange, as it is not an accurate record. According to the biography of Zhong You, it says, “When His Excellency and Shao were opposing each other You was serving as Director of Retainers, and he sent a group of two thousand pi of horses as supplies for the army.” The Ben Ji and Shi Yu both say that at the time Great Ancestor of Wei had only six hundred cavalrymen, so why did You feel the horses were needed?

When Sun Ce heard that His Excellency and Shao were grappling with one another he made plans to raid Xu but never set out, as he was killed by an assassin.

In Runan, the thief Liu Pi and his men, who had previously surrendered, rebelled at Shao’s bequest plundered Xu. Shao tasked Liu Bei with assisting Pi, and His Excellency sent Cao Ren to destroy them. Bei fled and then Ren destroyed Pi’s encampment.

Yuan Shao was transporting thousands of grain carts up to his camp, so His Excellency used a strategy of Xun You’s, dispatching Xu Huang and Shi Huan to intercept them, completely defeating them and burning up all of his grain carts. His Excellency and Shao resisted each other for several months, and though in successive battles he had beheaded Shao’s generals, his men yet were few, his provisions were exhausted and his soldiers were weary and tired. His Excellency said to his grain conveyors, “In fifteen days’ time I will defeat Shao for you and will trouble you no more.” In the winter, during the tenth month, Shao dispatched grain transport carts and tasked Chunyu Qiong and five other generals, with ten thousand men, to deliver them as they were camped 40 li to the north of Shao. Shao’s counselor Xu You was seeking more money but Shao was not able to get enough so he rushed back, following which he persuaded His Excellency to attack Qiong and his men. All those around His Excellency were skeptical of this course, but Xun You and Jia Xu convinced him. He thereupon left Cao Hong behind to guard, while he himself went out that night with five thousand infantry and cavalrymen and encountered Shao’s troops when daylight came. Qiong and his men saw that His Excellency’s soldiers were few and so when they set their battle array it was disorganized and full of gaps. He quickly attacked them, Qiong retreated to defend his camp and His Excellency then attacked it. Shao dispatched cavalrymen to rescue Qiong. Some of those around His Excellency said, “Enemy cavalrymen are coming ever closer, we entreat you to disburse soldiers to repel them.” He indignantly replied, “When the enemy is at our backs, then report!” His soldiers all fought desperately, massively defeating Qiong and his men, and beheading them. (46)

46: The Record of Cao Man states: When His Excellency heard that You was coming he went out barefooted to welcome him, clapped his hands and smiled, saying, “Child, you have come from far off to aid me in my affairs!” Both went inside and sat down, and You spoke to him, saying, “The Yuans have a flourishing army, how will you deal with them? How many provisions do you currently have?” His Excellency replied, “Enough yet to sustain the army for a year.” You said, “That is not right, answer again!” His Excellency spoke again, “There is enough to sustain the army for half a year.” You replied, “You evidently do not wish to defeat the villainous Yuan clan since you do not speak truthfully!” His Excellency said, “This manner of speech is only a joke. In all truth there is enough for one month, but how can it be helped?” You replied, “You have but a solitary force alone with which to defend. Additionally there are none to come to your rescue and your supply of grain will soon be exhausted; because of this you daily are in great peril. The Yuans have a vast quantity of military supplies on which they rely, located at Wuchao in Gushi, and the army camp lacks disciplined preparation. Presently, you should use a light force to raid it, as they are not expecting your arrival, and burn up all the accumulated grain. Before three days have passed the Yuans will be defeated.” His Excellency was greatly pleased, and thereupon he selected his elite infantry and cavalrymen, had them all carry Yuan army banners, gagged up their horses’ mouths with rope and under cover of night set out via a byroad with every man carrying a bundle of firewood. Whenever there was someone who questioned them as they went by they would tell him, “Lord Yuan is fearful that Cao Cao may rob and plunder the army from behind, so he has dispatched troops to bolster the garrison.” The questioners believed them and took it to be the truth, and so they all remained calm and at ease. On arriving His Excellency’s force surrounded the encampment and started a blazing fire, and there was panic and chaos within the camp. He routed them and burnt up all their supplies of grain and money. First he beheaded the officer Sui Yuanjin, the cavalry officer Han Juzi, Lü Weihuang, Zhao Rui and their men, then he cut off the commander Chunyu Zhongjian’s nose, but did not kill him. He killed more than a thousand men, removing all of their noses, and cut off the lips and tongues of all of the horses and oxen, displaying them before Yuan’s army. Yuan’s generals and soldiers were all shocked and afraid. Since it was nighttime when Zhongjian was captured he was prepared to go over to His Excellency, who asked, “For what reason do you do so?” Zhongjian replied, “Victory and defeat derive from Heaven, what use is there in questioning it!” His Excellency did not wish to kill him, but Xu You said, “When by the light of day he views his reflection in the mirror, it will not be beneficial to have spared this man.” Therefore His Excellency killed him.

When Shao first heard about His Excellency’s attack on Qiong he said to his eldest son Tan, “As our opponent has just now attacked Qiong and his men, I will attack and capture his camp so that he consequently will have no place to return to!” Thereupon he tasked Zhang He and Gao Lan with attacking Cao Hong. He and his men heard about Qiong’s defeat and straightaway came forward to surrender. Shao’s men were thoroughly routed and he and Tan abandoned the army and fled across the river. His Excellency pursued but didn’t catch them and collected all of his military supplies, books of strategy and treasure, as well as capturing his men. (47) His Excellency gathered up Shao’s papers from among these things, additionally receiving the papers of the everyday men within the army, and he burned all of them. (48) All of the counties of Ji province opened the walls of the cities and surrendered.

47: The Record of Emperor Xian’s Daily Life/Xiandi Qi Ju Zhu states: His Excellency said to the Emperor, “The General-In-Chief and Marquis of Ye Yuan Shao had earlier with the Governor of Ji province Han Fu wished to set up the Grand Major Liu Yu as Emperor, and crafted a royal seal from gold. For this reason he dispatched the official Zhang Biyu to call on Yu and persuade him that it was decreed by heavenly mandate. Shao also wrote a letter to your servant, saying, “I can set the capital city in Juancheng, and in that place establish the emperor.” Without authority he minted gold and silver currency, made the recommendations of Filially Pious and Incorrupt to the officials, and everyone reported to Shao. Following this his younger brother the Grand Administrator of Jiyin wrote to him in a letter, saying, “Presently there is misfortune and ruin within the four seas and Heaven’s will lies within our family. If the divine essence is to be granted it is fitting that it honor the older brother. The officials under the southern brother desire for his enthronement but the southern brother said, with regard to age the northern brother is older thus with regard to enthronement the northern brother should receive that weighty honor. It is my desire to give you the royal seal and then together we may waylay Cao Cao.” Shao’s family has for many generations received the kindness and respect of the country, and none have tread the path of wicked rebellion and gone so far as this. I have personally restrained his military forces. I have engaged in battle at Guandu and, relying on the strength of the imperial court, I first achieved the beheading of Shao’s general Chunyu Qiong and eight other men and then thoroughly routed his forces. Shao and his son Tan were humbled and quickly fled away. Altogether seventy thousand soldiers were beheaded and many millions of military supplies and belongings.”
48: The Annals of the Wei Clan state: His Excellency said, “I have withstood Shao’s superior strength, and though I was alone he was still unable to protect himself, let alone the rest of his men!”

Earlier, in the time of Emperor Huan, there was a yellow star visible between Chu and Song and Yin Kui of Liaodong, who was skilled in astronomy said that after fifty years there would be a true hero arising from between Liang and Pei, such that the point of his sword could not be withstood. It came to be that fifty years passed, and His Excellency defeated Shao, and in all of the empire there were none that could match him.

In the fourth month of the sixth year, during the summer, His Excellency led his troops up past the Yellow river, attacked Shao’s forces at Cangting and defeated them. When Shao returned he gathered up again all of his scattered troops and attacked and secured all of the rebellious counties and commanderies. In the ninth month, His Excellency returned to Xu. Shao would not yet be defeated so he tasked Liu Bei to sir up trouble in Runan, and the Runan bandits Gong Dou and his men responded. His Excellency dispatched Cai Yang to attack Dou but he was unsuccessful and was therein defeated by Dou. His Excellency went south to attack Bei. When Bei heard that His Excellency himself was coming he quickly fled away to Liu Biao, and Dou and his men all scattered.

In the first month of the seventh year, during the spring, His Excellency’s army was at Qiao, and he issued a decree saying, “I raised a righteous army for the purpose of ridding the empire of the rebellion. Of the former inhabitants of the land all of them have died off. I traveled about the country all day and did not see anyone I knew, causing me heartrending sadness. Since the raising of the righteous army, whenever an officer or soldier has died without offspring I have sought among his relatives for someone to continue the line, given them farmland, the government has given them farm cattle, and established schools and teachers for the purpose of educating them. For the benefit of the survivors I have established temples that they may use to offer sacrifice to their ancestors, if there are souls of the dead, what regrets could I have when my lifetime has passed!” Then he went to Junyi, secured the dyke at Suiyang and dispatched someone to sacrifice an ox to Qiao Xuan. (49) He then advanced his army to Guandu.

49: The Baoshang Ling records that when His Excellency offered sacrifice he said, “The former Grand Commandant, His Excellency Qiao, was from birth imbued with the highest virtue, extensive kindness and abundant forgiveness. The nation gives thought to his virtuous instruction and the scholars to putting his decrees into practice. His bier conceals his body in seclusion, alas so far from the light of dawn! When I was of a young age I was taken and brought to the main room of his home, which was unusual on account of my coarse and uncouth appearance, for the purpose of being received by that great man of honor. Increased honor and reputation are each due to praise and assistance, just as Zhongni said there were none as good as Yan Yuan and Li Sheng’s generous acclaim for Jia Fu. He was committed to being my close confidant, and in my heart I have not forgotten this. It was also with great ease that he arranged this pledge, saying, ‘After my death this is the method you are to follow. Do not use a vessel of wine, merely sacrifice a chicken over the grave and pour the libation, passing it over a space of three paces, but do not be bewildered if your belly is pained!’ Although at the time he spoke jokingly of it, if he was not to a close friend being sincere about his health, why would he therefore be making preparations for going away? One should not speak of departed souls with resentment as you may be giving yourself pain and suffering. One should reminisce with fondness only, and sad, sorrowful thoughts. I received orders to go to the east, and made camp for a number of days in my home village. To the north I saw the sacred earth, and therefore in my heart resolved to visit his tomb. It was his decision to be given but a simple libation, but His Excellency (referring to Qiao) will still be granted a sacrifice!”

After his army’s defeat Shao fell ill and vomited blood, and in the summer, during the fifth month, he died. His younger son Shang succeeded him, and his son Tan declared himself General of Chariots and Cavalry and encamped at Liyang. In the autumn, during the ninth month, His Excellency set out against them, and joined in battle. Tan and Shang were repeatedly defeated and so retreated, firmly remaining on the defensive.

In the eighth year, during the spring, in the third month, His Excellency attacked their outer fortifications and they therefore came out to fight. He attacked and thoroughly defeated them, and Tan and Shang fled away during the night. In the summer, during the fourth month, His Excellency advanced his army to Ye. In the fifth month he returned to Xu, leaving Jia Xin to garrison Liyang.

On the Jiyou day (June 22nd 203 approx.) he issued a decree saying, “Sima’s Law of ‘Leniency Upon a General’s Death’ (50) came about because of Zhao Kuo’s mother, who entreated not to be held accountable for Kuo. It was true of generals in ancient times that when their armies suffered defeat abroad their families were held responsible at home. When I myself assign generals to go forth on campaign, to only reward accomplishments and not punish failure is not the law of the country. As such let it be decreed that for all generals who go out to attack, the ones whose armies are defeated will shoulder the blame with the unsuccessful generals barred from government service and noble rank.” (51)

50: The Book of Wei states: Sui2 is equivalent to Que4. The preceding passage calls for meter of one chi and not the one-cun meter of Que4.
51: The Book of Wei states that on the gengshen day (July 3rd 203) His Excellency issued a decree saying, “There are some critics among those heading the army saying that even if they have skillful ability and virtuous conduct it is never enough to receive provincial or state appointment to an official post. These people say, ‘We are able to take part in following a course but we are not able to take part in the decision-making.’ Guanzhong said, ‘When employing learned and virtuous men their ability depends on honoring their superiors, and for fighting men their merit depends on the soldiers regarding death lightly. These two sorts of men should be employed in service of the state in order to control the empire.’ I will not give repute to inept men or soldiers lacking will to fight, but one who combines the two can receive the reward of an official salary and moreover may make contributions as a builder of the state. For this reason I clearly cannot grant official posts to subjects lacking merit just as I cannot reward a soldier who doesn’t fight; to govern fairly and with virtue rewards must be dispensed according to function. The speech of those discussing this is like peering at a tiger through a bamboo tube!”

In the autumn, during the seventh month, he issued a decree saying, “In the fifteen years since the coming of the misfortunes and disorder the young men have been without kindheartedness and the customs of courtliness, and I am extremely distressed by it. As such I decree that in every commandery and state there is to be cultivation of learning, and in the counties for every five hundred households a field officer will be placed therein, selected from the village’s outstanding talents to teach and instruct them. This is so that the learning of the ancient rulers will not be lost and moreover it will be to the benefit of the empire.”

In the eighth month, His Excellency sent an expedition against Liu Biao and his army was at Xiping. When His Excellency left Ye and went south, Tan and Shang fought over Ji province. Tan was defeated by Shang and he retreated to defend Pingyuan. Shang was going to attack him soon and Tan dispatched Xin Pi to beg His Excellency to accept his surrender and to come to his aid. All of His Excellency’s generals expressed doubts but Xun You persuaded His Excellency to agree to it, (52) and he thereupon led his army back. In the winter, during the tenth month, he arrived at Liyang and he joined his son Zheng with Tan’s daughter in marriage. (53) When Shang heard that His Excellency had come north he broke off his siege of Pingyuan and returned to Ye. Lü Kuang and Lü Xiang of Dongping rebelled against Shang and encamped at Yangping. They led their men out to surrender to His Excellency and were conferred the rank of Marquis. (54)

52: The Book of Wei states: His Excellency said, “When I attacked Lü Bu, Biao did not invade, and during the Guandu campaign he did not come to the aid of Yuan Shao. Thus he protects only himself from harm, and so it is suitable to plan against him later on. Tan and Shang are duplicitous so it is proper that I take advantage of their state of disorder. I will indulge Tan, pretending to support him, and he, not ultimately being helpless, will employ me to defeat Shang and I will lean in to take over his territory, which will greatly benefit me.” Thereupon he agreed to it.
53: Your servant Song notes: From Shao’s death until then, all told only five months had passed. Although Tan was the first-born and as such the eldest brother, for three years now he had not been in Shao’s good graces, due to the favoritism of the wife from his second marriage, so he rebelled. As an expedient the King of Wu made this pledge with him: Presently a marriage would be arranged and it would not be necessary to give over that year’s harvest as a dowry.
54: The Book of Wei states: When the siege of Tan had dispersed he secretly sent one of his generals to Kuang with a counterfeit silk-tasseled seal. Kuang received the seal and then delivered it to His Excellency, who said, “I certainly am aware of Tan’s pitiful scheming. He wishes to use me to attack Shang, which will allow him in the meantime to plunder the populace and gather men so that on Shang’s defeat he will have obtained for himself a superior force by which to take advantage of my weakness. However, I will benefit from Shang’s defeat, so what weakness will there be to take advantage of?”

In the spring of the ninth year, during the first month, His Excellency crossed the Yellow River and redirected the flow of the Qi River into the Bai canal, so as to open the way for the transport of provisions. In the second month, Shang again attacked Tan, leaving Su You and Shen Pei to defend Ye. On arriving His Excellency attacked Ye, constructing earthen hills and tunnels. The Chief of Wuan Yin Kai was encamped at Maocheng to keep open the supply lines to his associates. In the summer, during the fourth month, His Excellency left Cao Hong to attack Ye while he prepared to attack Kai himself. He defeated him and then returned. Shang’s general Ju Gu defended Handan (55) and His Excellency attacked again, capturing it. The Prefect of Yiyang Han Fan and the Chief of She Liang Qi opened up their counties to surrender and they were conferred the noble rank of Marquis Within the Imperial Domain. In the fifth month, His Excellency destroyed his earthen hills and tunnels and dug an encircling moat into which he breached the Zhang River to flood the city; more than half the people within the city starved to death. In the autumn, during the seventh month, Shang went back to rescue Ye and all of His Excellency’s generals were of the opinion that being a returning army they would be fighting for themselves and it would be better to avoid them. His Excellency said, “If Shang should come via the main road we will avoid him; if he arrives by following the western hills, this will only result in his defeat.” Shang resolved to come by following the western hills and made his camp overlooking the Fu River. (56) At night he dispatched troops to break the siege but His Excellency resisted, routing and causing him to flee, and then surrounded his camp. Being separated Shang was afraid and accordingly dispatched Chen Lin to the Inspector of Yu province Yin Kui to ask to surrender but His Excellency would not permit it and made the siege even more pressing. At night Shang fled to the protection of the Qi hills and His Excellency pursued and attacked him. Shang’s generals Ma Yan, Zhang Yi and their men came forward to surrender, his soldiers all scattered and Shang fled to Zhongshan. His Excellency captured all of Shang’s military supplies, took his official seal and ceremonial axe, and displayed Shang’s captured troops to their families; those within the city became fearful of disaster. In the eighth month Shen Pei’s nephew Rong opened the guardposts of the city’s eastern gate to the invading army. Pei fought against them and was defeated. He was taken alive and then beheaded by His Excellency, who then took control of Ye. His Excellency offered sacrifice before Shao’s tomb and his tears flowed freely as he wept for him. He brought gifts of sympathy to Shao’s wife, returned to his family their treasured possessions, and bestowed on them a multitude of silken floss and grain from the government granary. (57)

55: The surname Ju (sounds like zu1) comes from north of the Yellow River and in the present day it still exists there. Gu passed the surname Ju on to a son.
56: The Secret History of Cao states: His Excellency dispatched observers to count how many troops from front to back were with Shang and all of them said, “He has decided to come from the west and is already at Handan.” At this His Excellency was greatly pleased and he gathered all of his generals together, saying, “I have already obtained Ji province, are all of you aware of this?” They all replied, “We are not aware.”

His Excellency said, “It will be apparent to all of you before long.”

57: Sun Cheng states: When in former times the ancient kings acted to wipe out Shang they did so to punish wickedness and encourage virtue, and set a clear example for all time. Because of the difficulties and dangers besetting his era Shao began to devise rebellious plans, first putting forth proposals for the imperial throne and then seeking the reins of the country. To purge the tainted house from society is the way of the ancients but it was with utmost grief that His Excellency went to the rebel minister’s tomb and in addition bestowed kindness on the covetous and greedy man’s wife and in this he stumbled as followed the Way of government. A man must conceal his enmity or friendliness for a person, as did the philosopher of old Suo Chi who formerly had housed Shui Can as a guest, and who was just without shedding tears. The Way is indifferent and makes no allowance for spite or good will, how can there be weeping? In former times the High Ancestor of Han deviated from the norm with regard to the Xiang clan and the King of Wei has erroneously followed this example; how is it possible that he found fault with the many and instead gave credence to the one deviation?

Earlier, when Shao and His Excellency were raising the army together, Shao asked His Excellency, “If this affair does not come together, which territory would you seize?” His Excellency replied, “What do you believe would be your intention?” Shao said, “To the south I would occupy the Yellow River and to the north I would block off Yan and Dai, then I would form an army from the throngs of barbarians and head southward to fight for the empire; that should be sufficient to achieve it.” His Excellency said, “I would make use of the empire’s intelligent and resourceful men, and govern them according to the Way, then there would be nothing I could not do.” (58)

58: The Great Ancestor repeated a statement of Confucius’, saying, “How could it be possible for the King of Wu and the King of Tang to share the same land? If the strategic places must be held for the sake of money and resources then you would be incapable of responding to opportunity and adapting to change.”

In the ninth month, His Excellency issued a decree saying, “Hebei has suffered from the troubles of the Yuan clan and so I decree that they do not have to pay this year’s taxes!” Particular emphasis was placed on the regulation of annexation by the wealthy and powerful, and the common people were overjoyed. (59) The Son of Heaven wanted His Excellency to receive the post of Governor of Ji province but he declined and instead returned to Yan province.

59: The Book of Wei records His Excellency’s decree as saying, “When a person possesses a state or a family, he is not concerned about the small things but is concerned about inequality, and he does not worry about poverty but does worry about instability. Regarding the Yuan clan’s government, it allowed the wealthy and powerful to flaunt authority and show favoritism for their relatives. The common people were held down in poverty and weakness, and took their place in paying lease taxes. They sold off their family possessions but still did not have enough to pay the designated amounts. Shen Pei’s family went so far as to harbor malefactors who had become fugitives from their masters. They desired and hoped for the common people’s affection and fondness, and to have a strong and flourishing army, but how can these be obtained through wickedness? His grain tax collections totaled four sheng per mu of land, each family produced two pi of coarse silk, two bolts of silken floss and no more. He did not have the resources needed to flourish and expand. I have observed the appearance of the states and commanderies, and made a clear assessment of them. As such there will be no laws allowing the strong to hide themselves away while the weak and poor pay double taxes.”

During His Excellency’s siege of Ye, Tan plundered and seized Ganling, Anping, Bohai and Hejian. When Shang was defeated, he went back to Zhongshan. Tan attacked him and he fled to Gu’an and soon after was reunited with his men. His Excellency left Tan a letter, reproaching him for breaching their agreement and cancelled the marriage alliance with him, sending back Tan’s daughter, whereupon he led his army forward. Tan was afraid and captured Pingyuan before going to defend Nanpi. In the twelfth month, His Excellency entered Pingyuan, capturing and establishing control over all the counties therein.

In the tenth year, in the spring and in the first month, His Excellency attacked and defeated Tan, beheaded him, executed his family and pacified Ji province. (60) He gave an order saying, “To those persons who took part with the Yuan clan in villainy, I give to them a fresh start.” He ordered the common people not to renew private quarrels, forbade lavish burials and everyone was to be treated the same with respect to the law. The same month, Yuan Xi’s generals Jiao Chu and Zhang Nan and their men rebelled and attacked Xi and Shang. They both fled to the three commanderies of the Wuhuan. Chu and the others opened up their counties to surrender and were conferred the rank of marquis. When His Excellency first sent forces against Tan the common people fled from having to break ice (61) so he ordered that they were not allowed to surrender. A short while later, the head of the runaways went to the door where they were and His Excellency said to him, “If I listen to you I will be breaking my decree, however if I kill you I will be punishing authority. Go conceal yourselves far away and do not get caught by the officials here.” The common people hung down their heads crying and went away; afterwards they were indeed captured.

60: The Book of Wei states, “When His Excellency attacked Tan, the battle had gone from dawn to midday and had not yet been decided. His Excellency therefore personally took the drumstick to beat the battle-drum and his soldiers all fought more vigorously, immediately breaking through the enemy line.
61: Your servant Song believes that at the time when he sent forces against Tan, the Chuan canal waters had frozen, so he employed the common people to break the ice so as to open the way for his boats. The common people grew fearful of forced labor and fled.

In the summer, during the fourth month, the Black Mountain bandit Zhang Yan led his more than one hundred thousand men out to surrender and was conferred the rank of marquis. Zhao Du of Gu’an, Huo Nu and others killed the Inspector of You province and the Grand Administrator of Zhuo commandery. The three commanderies of the Wuhuan attacked Xianyu Fu at Guangping. (62) In the autumn, during the eighth month, His Excellency attacked them, beheading Du and his men, and thereafter crossed the Lu River to come to the aid of Guangping. The Wuhuan fled away beyond the northern frontier.

62: The State and Commandery Records of the Book of Han Continued state, “Guangping was the name of a county within Yuyang commandery.”

In the ninth month, His Excellency issued a decree, saying, “Cliques and total collusion were despised by the ancient sages. I have heard of the vulgar customs of Ji province, that fathers and sons belonged to different factions and moreover would destroy each other’s reputations. In former times, Zhi Buyi did not have an elder brother yet the commoners say of him that he stole his elder brother’s wife. The fifth hegemon Yu San took an orphan as his bride yet they say of him that he beat his wife’s elderly father. King Feng usurped power and Gu Yong compared him to Shen Bo, yet King Shang gave honest criticism and Zhang Kuang says of him that he was a heretic. All of these are making the white out to be black, and are deceiving the Heavens and slandering their lords. My desire is to put these vulgar customs in good order, and if these four are not eliminated I shall feel ashamed.” In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency returned to Ye.

Earlier, Yuan Shao had his nephew Gao Gan take command as Governor of Bing province, and during His Excellency’s seizure of Ye Gan surrendered and soon after was appointed Inspector. When Gan heard that His Excellency was sending forces against the Wuhuan he thereupon took the province and rebelled, seizing the Grand Administrator of Shangdang and raising troops to guard the mouth of Hu Pass. His Excellency dispatched Yue Jin and Li Dian to attack him and Gan retreated to defend Huguan. In the eleventh year, during the spring, in the first month, His Excellency sent forces against Gan. When Gan got wind of this he left his other generals to guard the city and went over to the Xiongnu to ask the Shanyu for aid but the Shanyu would not receive him. His Excellency besieged Huguan for three months and then captured it. Gan then fled to Jing province but the Chief Commandant of Shangluo, Wang Yan, caught and executed him.

In the autumn, during the eighth month, His Excellency sent forces eastward to attack the pirate Guan Cheng and on arriving at Chunyu he dispatched Yue Jin and Li Dian to attack and defeat Cheng, who fled out to an island in the sea. His Excellency divided from Donghai the counties of Xiangfei, Tan and Qi to add them to Langye state, and he also decreased the size of Lu commandery. (63)

63: The Book of Wei records that in the tenth month, on the yihai day, His Excellency issued a decree, saying, “A man who governs the world and administers the people should employ advisors and follow their commandments. As the Shi Jing says, “You should listen to my plans, so that you do not have deep regrets,” this is what true rulers and ministers should sincerely and earnestly seek out. I have undertaken weighty tasks and am always afraid of failure, yet as the years come and go I do not hear any excellent plans, can it be that I have not been diligent in inviting it, and am to blame? From here on out, all of the officials and advisors are to be with me, rather than in separate carriages, so that every day they may speak of my errors, and I will consider them.”

The three commanderies of the Wuhuan took advantage of the turmoil in the empire and ravaged You province, seizing more than one hundred thousand families of Han civilians. Yuan Shao had established as chieftain over all of them a strong man to serve as Shanyu, and had the eldest son of his family take for himself a Wuhuan woman to be his wife. The chieftain in Liaoxi, Tadun, was especially barbarous, and his incursions in Shao’s former territory were many. For this reason Yuan Shang’s brother returned to him, and a great number of Wuhuan entered the strategic passes to cause harm. His Excellency prepared to send forces against them and dug a canal, from the Hutuo River to the Gu River (64), calling it the Pinglu trench. He also dug from the mouth of the Ju River (65) to join it with the Lu River, naming it the Quanzhou trench, and by means of these he had open communication with the sea.

64: Gu pronounced as gu1—orphan
65: Ju pronounced as ju4—sentence

In the twelfth year, during the spring and in the first month, His Excellency returned to Ye from Chunyu. On the dingyou day he issued a decree saying, “I raised a righteous army to put an end to the rebellion, and for nineteen years everywhere I invaded was certain to be conquered, how can this be just my accomplishment? It is because of the efforts of talented scholars and officials. The empire has not yet been totally put in order, and I rightly desire to settle it along with worthy scholars and officials, but for me alone to profit from their sacrifice of hard work, how could I be content with that! As such I urge that their accomplishments be certified by granting conferments.” Whereupon major conferments for performing outstanding service were granted to twenty men, each of them being made Marquis, and of the rest they were granted conferments in proper order. Conferment was renewed for the orphans of deceased officials and the degree of each was different. (66)

66: The Book of Wei records His Excellency’s decree as saying, “In former times, during Zhao She and Dou Ying’s tenure as generals, in a single morning they would make the distributions to those being granted rewards of gold. This was so that they would be able to accomplish great achievements and their deeds would resound for all time. I have read their writings, and never yet have I failed to strive for their level of conduct. I took part with the many generals and scholarly officials who have taken positions in the army and have been fortunate to rely on men of wisdom who are not in love with their own schemes, and flocks of men who do not lose their strength. We have made safe the dangers and pacified disorder but I have ignobly taken the greatest reward, with a city of thirty thousand households. Recollecting the righteousness of Dou Ying’s distribution of gold, I now divide up the places receiving rent income and give them to the generals and officials who have come together for the purpose of defending the frontier at Chen and Cai. The rest will be given farmland in return for everyone’s hard work and I will not usurp the greatest benefits. It is right that regarding the orphans of dead officials, a portion of grain taxes are also given to them. If this year’s harvest is abundant and there is enough to use, and those leasing out land receive full payment. This will be great and everyone will altogether benefit from it.”

His Excellency was preparing to head north to send forces against the three commanderies of the Wuhuan and all of his generals said, “Yuan Shang is only a runaway prisoner and the barbarians are greedy and are not his blood relations, how could they possibly act at Shang’s disposal? Now you are going to launch an extensive expedition against them, Liu Bei surely will persuade Liu Biao to raid Xu. If there is any chance of rebellion you will not be able to repent of it.” Only Guo Jia responded that Biao certainly was not skillful enough to appoint Bei and urged His Excellency to proceed. In the summer, during the fifth month, His Excellency arrived at Wuzhong. In the autumn, during the seventh month, there was a flood and the path near to the sea could not be traversed. Tian Chou asked to act as guide through the countryside and His Excellency followed him. He led the army into Lulong pass but the path outside the pass was cut off and they could not get through. Therefore they dug around mountains and filled in valleys for more than five hundred li, passing through Botan and Pinggang, entering the foremost territory of the Xianbi and headed east toward Liucheng. They had not yet arrived, with two hundred li to go, when their enemies became aware of them. Shang and Xi, together with Tadun, the Shanyu of Liaoxi Louban and the Shanyu of Youbeiping Nengchendizhi and others had ten thousand cavalry ready to oppose His Excellency’s army. In the eighth month, His Excellency ascended White Wolf Mountain and his soldiers came into contact with a flourishing multitude of the enemy. His Excellency’s supply carts were predominantly in the rear, he had few armored soldiers and all around everyone was afraid. His Excellency climbed to a high spot and looking out saw that the enemy’s formations were not in good order. Thereupon he released his soldiers to attack them, appointing Zhang Liao to lead the vanguard. The enemy masses collapsed completely, he beheaded Tadun and those calling him king, and the Hu and Han Chinese persons who surrendered numbered more than two hundred thousand. The Shanyu of Liaodong Supuwan joined up with the various despots of Liaoxi and Beiping, and they abandoned their kinsmen and, together with Shang and Xi fled away to Liaodong. The soldiers in Shang’s possession numbered only a thousand cavalrymen. Previously the Grand Administrator of Liaodong Gongsun Kang had depended upon there being discord among the Yuan. Following His Excellency’s defeat of the Wuhuan there were some who sought to persuade His Excellency to follow up by attacking them so that Shang and his brother could be captured. His Excellency said, “I will use Kang to chop off and deliver the heads of Shang and Xi, I need not bother with an army.” In the ninth month, His Excellency led his army back from Liucheng (67) and Kang at once beheaded Shang, Xi, Supuwan and his men, and sent His Excellency their heads. Some of his generals asked him, “How did you know that when you returned, Kang would chop off and deliver the heads of Shang and Xi?” His Excellency replied, “Kang normally was fearful of Shang and his men and so if I pressed them then they would join forces, whereas if I were leisurely with them then they would scheme against each other; such were the circumstances.” In the eleventh month, His Excellency arrived at the Yi River and Pufulu, the Shanyu of the Dai commandery Wuhuan, as well as Nalou, the Shanyu of the Shang commandery Wuhuan, went forth with their retainers and subordinates to congratulate him.

67: The Record of Cao Man states, “At the time conditions were miserable due to drought, and for two hundred li around there was no revival of the river waters. The army was also short of food, killing their horses to the tune of one thousand pi to serve as provisions, and having to dig more than three hundred feet into the earth to obtain water. On returning, His Excellency made an official inquiry as to which persons had previously remonstrated with him, and out of everybody there were none that knew his motive, but everyone was fearful. His Excellency gave them all generous rewards, saying, “Earlier I went forward and overcame danger to achieve a good outcome, but despite obtaining this, in that place I had Heavan’s aid and it cannot be expected that things will always happen that way. All of you gentleman’s admonishments, and your great number of plans for safety, are therefore rewarded accordingly, and in the future do not be afraid to speak up.”

In the thirteenth year, during the spring and in the first month, His Excellency returned to Ye and constructed a secret army lake for the purpose of practicing naval maneuvers. (68) Han did away with the positions of the Three Excellencies and installed the posts of Imperial Chancellor and Imperial Counselor. In the summer, during the sixth month, His Excellency was appointed Imperial Chancellor. (69)

68: Yi (practicing) is pronounced like si4. San Gang states, “The meaning of yi is equivalent to si2 (custom, practice).”
69: The Record of Emperor Xian’s Daily Life sates, “The Emperor sent the Minister of Ceremonies Xu Qiu to present the silken seal of office. The Imperial Counselor would not be subject to the other ministers and but a single man was installed as Attendant Clerk. The Short Biographies of Virtuous Ancestors state, “Qiu was styled Mengping (*Mengyu) and was a native of Guangling. When he was young he carried himself with honesty and forthrightness, and displayed a stern countenance towards government matters. He successively served in the three commanderies of Rencheng, Runan and Donghai, and transformed the local conduct everywhere he was. When he was summoned to return Yuan Shu abducted him from there. When Shu declared his intent to usurp the throne, he desired to give him the position of High Minister but Qiu would not submit to it and refused. After Shu’s death, Qiu took possession of the Great Seal of State and returned it to the Han imperial court, receiving as reward the office of Minister of Ceremonies; when His Excellency became Imperial Chancellor, he permitted Qiu to retain his position.

In the autumn, during the seventh month, His Excellency led an expedition southward to attack Liu Biao. In the eighth month, Biao died and his son Zong took his place. He was stationed at Xiangyang and Liu Bei was positioned at Fan. In the ninth month, His Excellency arrived at Xinye, Liu Zong straightaway surrendered and Liu Bei fled to Xiakou. His Excellency led his army forward to Jiangling and commanded the officials and commoners of Jing province, giving them a fresh start. Thereupon he assessed the accomplishments of Jing province’s followers, with fifty men becoming Marquis, and employed Liu Biao’s general Wen Pin to act as Grand Administrator of Jiangxia. He incorporated everyone into his own army, adding Jing province’s renowned officers Han Song, Deng Yi and their men. (70) The Governor of Yi province Liu Zhang began conscripting men for military service and dispatched soldiers to supplement the army. In the twelfth month, Sun Quan attacked Hefei on behalf of Bei. His Excellency sent forces from Jiangling to attack Bei and on arriving at Baqiu he dispatched Zhang Xi to rescue Hefei. When Quan got wind of Xi’s arrival he retreated. His Excellency arrived at Chibi and joined battle with Bei, to his detriment. Whereupon there was a widespread illness that left a great many soldiers and officials dead, and His Excellency thereupon led his army in retreat. Bei straightaway took possession .of all the commanderies of Jing province and Jiangnan. (71)

70: Wei Heng’s Siti Shu Shixu states, “At the start King Yu set the standard for proper official writing, which became the foundation for modern writing. Emperor Ling was fond of calligraphy and during that time there were many people who were skilled at it. Whenever someone was considered suitable for an official position on account of his proficiency, he would make frequent boasts of his ability in every style of writing and cut up and burn his examples. Liang Gu sought to profit from another’s writing so he gave him some wine, waited for him to become drunk and then stole his writing samples. Gu then quickly used them to practice his calligraphy and was selected for office as Imperial Secretariat. Thereafter, when His Excellency desired office as Prefect of Luoyang, Gu felt he should be only Military Commandant of the Northern District. Gu later came to be attached to Liu Biao. Upon the pacification of Jing province His Excellency sought to recruit Gu, and Gu was afraid that His Excellency himself would visit his home. From the military bureau he borrowed the services of a Major, employing him to provide some writing in secret and toiled at imitating the calligraphy himself. His Excellency came across the writing within the official registers, displayed it in appreciation of it and made known Gu’s suitability for holding office. Gu was styled Menghuang and was a man from Anding. All of Gu’s works were contained in the Imperial Palace of Wei’s Bureau of Writing.

Huangfu Mi’s Record of Outstanding Scholars states, “Wang Jun of Runan was styled Ziwen and in his youth had the reputation of a Fang Pan. He was known for his remarkable ability and was praised alongside Cen Zhi of Nanyang. When His Excellency was still unemployed he became especially fond of Jun, and Jun, for his part, felt that His Excellency had the talent to rule the world. When Yuan Shao and his younger brother Shu were mourning the death of their mother they returned to Runan to bury her. Jun joined His Excellency in assembling with them, and the assembled persons totaled three thousand men. His Excellency had a confidential discussion with Jun, saying, “The empire will soon become disordered and the chief persons instigating the disorder will certainly be these two men. I wish to aid the empire, and I beseech you on behalf of the common people, if we do not execute these two men they will presently create disorder.” Jun replied, “If it is as you say, that you will be a rescuer of the empire, who would abandon you and rebel?” They faced each other and laughed. Outwardly Jun conducted himself quietly but inwardly he saw things clearly, and would not accept assignment to the Three Offices over the provinces and commanderies. When His Excellency rode forth to summon Jun, Jun did not meet him. He instead left the area and took up residence at Wuling, returning to where more than one hundred members of his family resided. When the Emperor’s capital shifted to Xu, His Excellency again solicited Jun by means of a praiseworthy letter but again Jun would not come forward. When Liu Biao saw how powerful was Yuan Shao and was going to secretly join forces with him, Jun spoke to him, saying, “His Excellency Cao is the hero of the empire and certainly will be able to triumph over despotism and follow the great achievements of Huan and Wen. Presently you are pushing away the nearby and embracing the distant, if you should have need of the urgency of a single day, and you are looking far off to the northern desert for aid, you also will be in great difficulty!” Biao did not follow his advice. When Jun had reached the age of sixty-four he came to the end of his life at Wuling, and His Excellency, on hearing the news, was sorely grieved. On pacifying Jing province he personally arrived at the river to receive Jun’s body, and reinterred him at Jiangling, where Biao had deceased worthy officials buried.

71: Shan Yang’s Yearly Record of His Excellency states, “His Excellency’s boats and warships were therein burnt by Bei, and His Excellency led the army, by way of the Huarong road, in retreat on foot. They came upon muddy ground, the road could not be traveled and the skies also blew a great wind. His Excellency employed the weary soldiers to retrieve plant detritus to fill it in, so that those on horseback therefore were able to get through. The men on horseback trampled upon the exhausted infantrymen, who became mired in the mud, and there were a great many dead. Once the army had managed to get through, His Excellency showed great happiness, and when all of his generals inquired about it, he replied, “Liu Bei and I are peers. However, his strategy was deficient in taking place at night; in the event that he had set the fires in the morning, I would presently be walking alone.” Bei pursued him to try and set additional blazes but was unable to catch him. Sun Sheng’s Record of Contradictory Opinions states, “According to Wu records, Liu Bei attacked His Excellency first and then later Quan attacked Hefei. However, this record says that Quan attacked Hefei first and then afterward was the matter of Chibi. Where the two records disagree the Wu records should be considered the correct account.”

In the fourteenth year, during the spring and in the first month, His Excellency’s army arrived at Qiao and constructed canoes to give the army naval training. From where the Guo River enters the Huai the army went out past the Fei River and arrived at Hefei. On the xinwei day His Excellency issued a decree saying, “Just recently myself and an army of great numbers journeyed forth, and came upon an environment teeming with great illness. Officials and soldiers met with death and did not return, and their families suffer from being left alone. The common people are homeless and forced to wander about, but they are kindly, how can it be that they go with cheerfulness? It is because they have no choice. As such I decree that to the families of the deceased that are without a family estate and cannot subsist on their own means, the county officials will not close the government storehouses. The superior officials are to give succor and adhere to kindness, in accordance with my wishes.” His Excellency set up the head officials of the counties and commanderies of Yang province, and initiated agricultural garrisons at Shaopi Lake. In the twelfth month the army returned to Qiao.

In the fifteenth year, during the spring, His Excellency submitted a decree, saying, “From ancient times, regarding the sovereigns who received Heaven’s will and led the nation to flourish, was there ever one who did not obtain worthy men and as an honorable sovereign join with them to govern the empire? But regarding these worthy men they obtained, who had never before been beyond their village streets, how can it be that they chanced to encounter them? The above-named men were not merely sought out. Presently the empire has not yet been ordered and this especially is the time to urgently seek out worthy men. ‘Meng Gongchuo was of sufficient grade to act as an elder in Zhao or Wei, but was not felt able to be a senior official in Teng or Xue.’ If the officials are incorrupt and the sovereign is able to use them, then how could Duke Huan of Qi dominate the world! Presently does the empire have anyone that covers his valuable jade with coarse brown clothing and fishes upon the banks of the Wei? And are there also any that do not steal their elder brother’s wife for the sake of money and who are as yet unknowing and unheard of? As such, all of you help me to clearly disseminate amongst the mean and low that if they are but talented, to stand up, and I will obtain and use them.” In the winter His Excellency constructed the Bronze Bird Pavilion. (72)

72: According to the History of King Wu of Wei, in the twelfth month, on the hailing day, His Excellency issued a decree saying, “I started by being named as Filially Pious and Incorrupt when I was young. My own origins were not within the grottos of scholars of great repute and so, being afraid that to the people within the four seas I would seem mediocre and stupid, I desired to become Administrator of but a single commandery. I was skilled in the practice of government administration, on which I hoped to build a reputation, and to employ the scholars of the time who perfectly understood it. Consequently, when I was at Jinan I began to clear out corruption and remove the filth, made appointments according to my conscience, and constantly attended to evils and offences. I angrily expressed my opinion of the strong and powerful there and was fearful that this would cause my family harm, so for that reason I behaved as if I were ill and returned home. When I left government office I was still at a young age and, looking round at those of my generation, reflected that to be fifty years old is not yet regarded as elderly, so I privately made a plan to remain out of office for twenty years and wait for the empire to be pacified. Only then would I take a position with those of my generation who had taken office. For this reason I returned to my home village for four seasons, constructing a makeshift residence fifteen li from Qiao. I wished to spend the summer and autumn studying literature and the winter and spring bow hunting. I sought to hide behind the earth and wished to use brickwork to conceal myself, so as to prevent the coming and going of visitors, but I was not able to get what I wished. Later I was summoned to the post of Chief Commandant and then moved to the position of Colonel Who Arranges the Army, and expected then to fulfill my further wish to render meritorious service to the nation in combating the bandits. I fervently wished to be conferred the rank of Marquis and made General Who Subdues the West, such that afterwards it would be inscribed on my tomb that ‘This is the tomb of Marquis Cao, former Han General Who Subdues the West’; such was my will. However then came the incident of Dong Zhuo’s evil and I began raising a righteous army. At the time I was able to find many individuals from which to form an army but I frequently lost, and so I did not wish to have a multitude of them; inasmuch as having such persons, with a great many soldiers’ emotions to control, in combat with a powerful enemy any change can suddenly lead to disaster. At the River Bian I fought using a few thousand soldiers and afterward traveled to Yang province to recruit more. Yet again I did not exceed three thousand men and this shows the limits of my ambition. Later I became Governor of Yan province and defeated and forced the surrender of a throng of Yellow Turbans numbering three hundred thousand. Also at this time Yuan Shu declared his intent to usurp at Jiujiang and considered everyone below him to be his subject, calling his family the JianHao Family. In every facet he clothed himself in the manner of the Son of Heaven and two women vied ahead of time to be his Empress. His mind was made up regarding his plan and there was a that man exhorted Shu to make haste and establish himself as Emperor right away and to show himself before the empire, but Shu replied, “I am not yet able as His Excellency Cao is still around.” Afterwards on my own I fought and captured his four generals and took captive the men of his army. I caused for him to become exhausted and he fled away in dejection, and then fell ill and died. Then came the time when Yuan Shao seized Hebei and his army was large and powerful. I measured my own strength and could not match him, however I was prepared to serve my country to the death, to employ justice to the end of my life, until it is worthy of bequeathing to the emperor. Through good fortune I defeated Shao and then decapitated and publicly exposed the heads of his two sons. Liu Biao also laid claim to the imperial clan and harbored traitorous thoughts, from the beginning sitting back so as to observe worldly events, and holding the post of administrator of a province. I dealt with him also and continued the pacification of the empire. I became Prime Minister, already reaching the highest rank for an official, far higher than I hoped and wished for. I presently am speaking so fully of myself, as my wish is that men get the full story and I therefore do not avoid taboo subjects. Supposing that the nation was devoid of my presence, I do not know how many men would call themselves emperors and how many would call themselves kings. If perchance a man were to see my strength and prosperity, and that my nature is to distrust matters of divine ordinance, I am afraid he may judge me with a wicked heart and say that I have immodest ambitions. He may rashly form a judgement from speculation and frequently this troubles me. The names of Duke Huan of Qi and Wen of Jin have come down to the people of the present day and they made widespread use of their military forces while still being able to respectfully serve the Zhou Dynasty. The Analects say, ‘Of the three divisions of the empire they possessed two and used them in the service of Yin. The virtue of Zhou can indeed be said to have attained the highest virtue possible’, and a man may use grand means to handle small affairs. In former times Yue Yi went over to Zhao and the King of Zhao desired to join with him in plotting against Yan. Yue Yi fell prostrate and gave way to tears, replying, ‘I served as a minister of King Zhao (of Yan) and likewise I served the emperor. I have been the victim of criminal behavior and dismissed to go live in another state. If need be from here on I will lead an ordinary and invisible existence, but I could not bear to plot strategy as a servant of Zhao, let alone do so against the sovereign of Yan’s successor!’ When Huhai killed Meng Tian, Tian said, ‘From my late father through to my children, for three generations we have garnered the trust of Qin. Presently I have at my disposal an army of thirty thousand men. Such a force would be sufficient for the purpose of rebelling, but I myself know that I must die because I am an upholder of righteousness, and will not dishonor my late father’s teachings by forgetting the late emperor.’ I have often read these two men’s writings and not once have I failed to be saddened to the point of shedding tears. From my grandfather down to myself, all of us have held appointments of great importance and it can be said that we are viewed as honest people. Including Zihuan and his brothers we constitute more than three generations. I not only address every gentleman to explain this but frequently I speak thusly to my wives and concubines, so that everyone will have a thorough understanding of this. I speak to them, saying, ‘Every future generation is to look back upon me. All of you have entered the Cao family through marriage and it is my desire that the principles of my thought be passed on, and to convey this to the others so that everyone knows them.’ My heart demands that I say these things. Forasmuch as I zealously and earnestly desire to be judged a trustworthy servant, I have observed how Duke Dan of Zhou is in the Metal-Bound Coffer chapter (of the Book of Documents) and used it to make myself clear, fearing that men would be distrustful of my intentions. It is true that some desire that I give up command of my voluminous army and accordingly give back my control of government affairs, and return to my Marquisate at Wuping, but the truth is that I cannot. Why? I am sincerely afraid that were I to leave the company of my soldiers the men of this place would harm me. Additionally I wish to arrange things for my children and grandchildren as if I were to be destroyed then the nation would immediately meet with disaster. Therefore I cannot obtain my desire for a modest reputation as certainly then there would be disaster, and for these reasons then I cannot. Earlier the imperial court kindly wished to bestow upon three of my sons the rank of Marquis but I flatly refused and would not accept. Presently things have changed and I wish for them to receive it but not out of desire for them to be honored, or out of desire to be viewed as giving outside assistance, but because of my plans for great peace. I know of Jie Tui’s refusal of conferment by Jin and Shen Xu’s dodging reward by Chu, and not once have I failed to stop reading and sigh, making use of them to examine myself. It is with reverence that I have received the nation’s might and took hold of the ceremonial axe to go out to battle, putting the weak to the side so as to subdue the strong, taking charge of the small and capturing the great. In the planning of my desires I acted without violating my duty, and in my mind reflected on what directions were bad ones. In straightaway sweeping clean and pacifying the empire I did not disgrace the will of Heaven, as it may well be said that it is Heaven that assists the Dynasty of Han and not the power of men. I have received the simultaneous ownership of four counties with the produce of thirty thousand families, how can I virtuously endure it! So long as not every corner of the country is calm I cannot abdicate my position; but as regards cities and land, I can obtain them and then give them up. I will now give back Yangxia, Zhe and Ku, three counties totaling twenty thousand families, as well as ten thousand families’ worth of grain from Wuping. Moreover, by this I may decrease the slander of critics and it will be a small reduction in my responsibilities.”

In the sixteenth year, during the spring and in the first month, (73) the Son of Heaven appointed His Excellency’s heir Pi to the post of General of the Gentlemen of the Household for All Purposes with subordinate officials, to act as Deputy to the Imperial Chancellor. Shang Yao of Taiyuan and others like him took Daling and rebelled so His Excellency dispatched Xiahou Yuan and Xu Huang to surround and defeat them. Zhang Lu had occupied Hanzhong for three months so His Excellency dispatched Zhong Yao on an expedition against him, and sent Yuan and his men out through Hedong to join up with Yao.

73: The Book of Wei states, “On the gengchen day the Son of Heaven made a proclamation: ‘As His Excellency has decreased his households by five thousand and of his personal holdings given away three counties of ten thousand households each, a fief of five thousand families will be granted to three of his sons. Zhi is made Marquis of Pingyuan, Ju is made Marquis of Fanyang and Biao is made Marquis of Raoyang, each city having a grain output equal to five thousand households.’”

At this time all of the generals of the land within the pass were distrustful of Yao and desired to go raiding, and soon after Ma Chao, together with Han Sui, Yang Qiu, Li Kan, Cheng Yi and their men, rebelled. His Excellency dispatched Cao Ren on an expedition against them. Chao and his men were encamped at Tong pass and His Excellency gave the following imperial orders to every general, “The soldiers west of the pass are capable and vigorous, stay resolute within your barracks and do not enjoin them in battle.” In the autumn, during the seventh month, His Excellency led an expedition to the west, (74) and along with Chao and his men they stationed their respective armies on either side of the pass. His Excellency was impatient to hold control of them and so he secretly dispatched Xu Huang, Zhu Ling and their men to ferry across the Puban crossing at night and seize the area west of the Yellow River to act as their encampment. His Excellency went north of Tong pass to ferry across but did not do so and Chao hurriedly went towards his boat to attack. The Colonel Ding Fei for this reason released oxen and horses to bait the rebels, who became disordered and seized the oxen and horses, and His Excellency was thereupon able to cross, (75) using the path of the river as a walled corridor and going south. The rebels withdrew, occupying the mouth of the Wei River and His Excellency thereupon deployed a great many troops as a deceptive force. In secret he used boats to convey troops into Wei, using the boats as a floating bridge and under cover of night a division of troops established camp south of the Wei River. The rebels attacked the camp at night and the concealed troops attacked and defeated them. Chao and his men were stationed south of the Wei and he dispatched a letter proposing to cede the land west of the Yellow River and asking for peace, but His Excellency would not accept. In the ninth month His Excellency led the army across the Wei. (76) Chao and the others would frequently issue challenges to battle but His Excellency forbade it. Chao persisted in asking to cede land and offered to deliver his son as insurance so His Excellency made use of a stratagem of Jia Xu’s to pretend to agree to it. Han Sui asked to meet face-to-face with His Excellency as their fathers had been the same age when they were nominated as Filially Pious and Incorrupt and His Excellency and Sui were contemporaries of the same generation. Therefore they met on horseback and their talk was of old times, not extending to military matters. They spoke only of former times at the capital, and clasped hands and smiled. After they had finished Chao and the others asked Sui, “What did His Excellency say?” and Sui replied, “He said nothing.” Chao and the others became distrustful of him. (77) The next day His Excellency composed a letter to Sui wherein he made numerous insertions and deletions, such that Sui would appear to have made alterations, and Chao and his men became more and more distrustful of him. His Excellency thereupon undertook to defeat them that day in a decisive battle, at attacking them with light-armed troops, and they fought for a long time. Therefore he then released the Tiger Cavalry to attack from both sides, inflicted a massive defeat on them and beheaded Cheng Yi, Li Kan and their men. Sui, Chao and their men went to Liang province, Yang Qiu fled to Anding and the land within the passes was pacified. Out of all his generals some asked His Excellency, “Earlier, when the rebels were guarding Tong pass the path to the north of the Wei was empty. You did not leave from Hedong to attack Pingyi but instead persisted in guarding Tong Pass and only after a period of days did you cross to the north. Why?” His Excellency replied, “When the rebels were guarding Tong Pass, if I had entered Hedong they certainly would have moved to guard all the crossings, so that I would not be able to cross over to Xihe. It is for this reason that I kept my soldiers opposite Tong Pass. When the entire throng of the rebels moved their defenses south, Xihe’s garrisons were empty and for this reason a mere two generals were able to occupy and seize it. Afterwards I lead the army to cross to the north and the rebels were unable to contend with me over Xihe as it was held by these two generals’ armies. I joined carts together to form a barrier, so as to make a walled corridor and went south, (78) which rendered us both unable to be overcome and also gave the impression of weakness. I crossed the Wei River to erect fortifications and when the enemy arrived they did not enter, on account of their pride. For this reason the rebels did not seek to establish camp but asked to cede land, and I went along and said I would consent to it, as regards following their wish, to cause them to be at peace and to not have made preparations. On this basis I gathered up my force of soldiers and when one day I attacked them, it was what is called ‘swift thunder not reaching covered ears’. The changes and variations of military affairs do not follow a single path.” At first, when each division of the rebels arrived, His Excellency had an expression of happiness. After the rebels were defeated all of his generals asked him the reason for this, and His Excellency replied, “The chieftains of the lands within the passes are very remote, if the rebels had all stuck by their own dangerous and difficult areas then the expedition against them would not have been able to settle things in less than two years. Now with all of them gathered together, though their numbers were many none of them would cooperate with each other and their army was without proper leadership. In one fell stroke we were able to exterminate them and it is because of this difference in work that I was so pleased.”

74: The Book of Wei states, “Many commentators say (that the order was), ‘The soldiers west of the pass are powerful and well-practiced with spears. If you are not careful in choosing the vanguard then you will not be able to match them.’ His Excellency spoke to all his generals, saying, ‘The decision to fight rests with me and not with the rebels. Though the bandits are well practiced with spears they will not be able to use them for stabbing, as you gentlemen are to observe them only.’”
75: The Record of Cao Man states, “His Excellency was preparing to cross the Yellow River and the main force had crossed ahead of him, when Chao and his men suddenly arrived, but His Excellency remained seated on his chair and did not rise. Zhang He and his men saw that the situation was urgent and joined together to lead His Excellency into the boat. The river water was flowing rapidly, the ferry traveling four or five li, and Chao and his men rode in pursuit, firing at them such that the arrows came down like rain. All of the generals saw the army was defeated and were not aware that His Excellency was in the boat, and all of them were very afraid, but upon seeing him their grief turned to jubilation and some of them shed tears. His Excellency smiled broadly, saying, ‘Today we were almost stranded here merely on account of a few bandits!’
76: The Record of Cao Man states, “At this time, whenever His Excellency’s army would cross the Wei, Chao’s cavalrymen would immediately interfere. He was unable to set up camp and as the soil was also very sandy and dry, he was unable to construct ramparts. Lou Zibo counseled His Excellency, saying, ‘Presently the skies are cold, but you can construct fortifications from sand; by pouring water onto it you may accomplish it in a single night.’ His Excellency obeyed him and thereupon constructed many sacks of thick, waterproof silk and used them to transport water, sending soldiers across at night to construct fortifications. By the next day the fortifications were erected and consequently the entirety of His Excellency’s army was able to cross the Wei. Some dissenting commentators say that at the time of the ninth month the river water should not yet have been frozen. Your servant Song notes that according to the Book of Wei, His Excellency’s army arrived at Tong Pass in the eighth month and crossed the Yellow River to the north in the intercalary month. It follows then that in this year the intercalary month was the eighth and thusly allows for the irregularly severe cold (in the ninth month)!”
77: The Book of Wei states, “The next day His Excellency again met with Sui and his men to talk and all of his generals said, ‘You have been meeting with the enemy to talk, which is not advisable as you could easily be taken. You should go over to the woods with cavalrymen to prevent this.’ His Excellency saw this was correct. On seeing His Excellency all of the rebels immediately made obeisance, just as the people of Hu did to Qin. Altogether a great throng had converged and His Excellency laughed and addressed the rebels, saying, ‘So you desire to see the infamous Excellency Cao? I too am but a man and do not have four eyes or two mouths, only great wisdom!’ Those gathered, front and back, were a grand sight. Five thousand cavalrymen were arranged in rows ten deep, glorious in the brilliant light of the sun, and the rebels were increasingly shaken with fear.
78: Your servant Song observes that the High Ancestor of Han in his second year fought with Chu at between Xingyangjing and Suo. He erected a walled corridor along the Yellow River for the purpose of seizing Aocang’s grain. Ying Shao states, ‘He was fearful of the enemy robbing his military supplies and this is the reason why he built the wall to create a sort of pathway.’ Now, King Wu of Wei did not erect a wall, but only joined carts together to form a barrier so as to resist from both sides.

In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency led an army north from Changan on an expedition against Yang Qiu and surrounded Anding. Qiu surrendered and His Excellency restored his noble rank, employing him to stay and soothe the common people. (79) In the twelfth month he returned from Anding and left Xiahou Yuan stationed at Changan.

79: The Summary History of Wei states, “During the Huangchu period Yang Qiu was made General Who Punishes Criminals and was given special advancement, being conferred the rank of Marquis of Linjing, which he held to the end of his life.

In the seventeenth year, in the spring and during the first month, His Excellency returned to Ye. The Son of Heaven bestowed His Excellency with the privilege to present himself unannounced, to enter the imperial court without haste and to go into the palace hall wearing his sword and boots, just as Xiao He formerly practiced. Of the remnant of Ma Chao’s multitudes, Liang Xing and his men were stationed at Lantian and His Excellency tasked Xiahou Yuan with attacking and suppressing them. From Henei commandery he cut off the counties of Dangyin, Chaoge and Linlu; from Dong commandery he cut off the counties of Wei, Dunqiu, Dongwuyang and Fagan; from Julu commandery he cut off the counties of Yingtao, Quzhou and Nanhe; from Guangping commandery he cut off the county of Rencheng and from the state of Zhao he cut off the counties of Xiang, Handan and Yiyang, for the purpose of adding them to Wei commandery.

In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency launched an expedition against Sun Quan.

In the eighteenth year, during the spring and in the first month, he led the army to the mouth of the Ruxu River, broke through Quan’s encampment to the west of the Yellow River, captured Quan’s Chief Controller Gongsun Yang and then led the army back. His Excellency issued an imperial decree combining the fourteen provinces and rearranging them as nine provinces. In the summer, during the fourth month, he arrived at Ye.

In the fifth month, on the bingshen day, the Son of Heaven tasked the Imperial Counselor Chi Lu with the Staff of Authority to bestow upon His Excellency the title of Duke of Wei (80), saying, “On account of lacking virtue, We met with grave misfortune in our youth. We passed over to Western lands and migrated to Tang and Wei. We were at this time like a decorative ribbon, (81) the ancestral temples lacked sacrifices and the worship of the grain god was not in place. A fearful and covetous throng divided up all of Xia and took control over the people of the land, We were unable to obtain control and our heavenly mandate from the High Ancestor was soon to fall to earth. We took to rising early in the morning and feigning sleep, and were shaken by fear to the point of faintheartedness, saying, ‘Both our grandfather and father had assisting officials who first upheld them, (82) what such person will have pity for our plight?’ Thus was Heaven’s inner feeling appealed to and it gave forth the Prime Minister, to preserve and stabilize the royal family and us. He gives great assistance with the hardships and troubles and We have come to absolutely rely on him. Presently We are going to have a ceremony of conferment for His Lordship, and we hope that he will respectfully obey our wishes.

“In earlier times when Dong Zhuo first gave rise to the national calamity, a throng of lords gave up their positions for the purpose of conferring about the imperial household. (83) His Lordship then entered to give assistance, first opening the way to soldiers, and this was because of his loyalty to the imperial dynasty. Later on the Yellow Turbans rebelled, proclaiming a change in the fixed order of the Heavens and encroaching on three of our provinces. It spread to the common people and he excised the Turbans for the sake of pacifying eastern Xia, and so this was the work of His Lordship. Han Xian and Yang Feng confined us to make use of imperial might and His Lordship sent in forces, overcame and expelled their villainy and forthwith he moved us to Xu city where he constructed our capital and surrounding district. He set up the government altars of sacrifice and did not deviate from our ancestors’ heritage, such that all matters concerning ghosts and spirits were settled and regulated, and this too was the work of His Lordship. When Yuan Shu rebelled with intent to usurp and made his display at Huainan, he was terrified and in awe of His Lordship’s intelligence. His Lordship employed a grand stratagem and Qiao Rui and Shu’s followers at Qiyang were beheaded. The border of his power extended southward, Yuan Shu accordingly was utterly destroyed, and this too was the work of His Lordship. He turned the point of his sword eastward to launch an expedition and Lü Bu was summarily dispatched. His Lordship availed himself of Bu’s supply carts and prepared to return when Zhang Yang met a violent death. Sui Gu was made to admit his guilt and Zhang Xiu kowtowed and surrendered; this, too, was the work of His Lordship. When Yuan Shao rebelled against the heavenly order and schemed to endanger the state, he relied upon his great numbers and weighed the soldiers within the land but lightly as the case at the time was that the imperial forces were few and weak. The whole land was fearful and there were none that possessed a strong will. His Lordship was of great moral integrity and his skill and ability were bright as the sun. In indignation he roused his military forces to action and used his cleverness to devise strategy, such that on arriving at Guandu he thoroughly destroyed the whole throng of villains, (84) thus causing for the nation and me to be saved from danger of falling. This, too, was His Lordship’s work. He crossed his army over the great Yellow River and extended his control to four provinces. Yuan Tan and Gao Gan both had their heads cut off and exposed, all the pirates fled in disarray and the Black Mountain bandits were reined in. This, too, was His Lordship’s work. The three tribes of the Wuhuan had instigated disorder for two generations, Yuan Shang fell in with them and they seized and oppressed the north, gathering horses and grain carts, yet in but a single battle they were routed. This was also the work of His Lordship. Liu Biao haughtily turned his back and did not give tribute for his post. When the imperial army first set forth the shocking news caused him to die in advance of their arrival and one hundred cities in eight commanderies altogether knelt in obeisance. This, too, was the work of His Lordship. Ma Chao and Cheng Yi joined together to aid each other in wickedness, occupying a place near banks of the Yellow River at Tong Pass, whereat they sought to achieve their aim. His Lordship exterminated them south of the Wei River, displaying ten thousand severed ears. Forthwith the fringe territories were set in order and the Rong barbarians were consoled and pacified, and this, too, was His Lordship’s work. Dingling of the Xianbi took (the situation) seriously and arrived, as did the Shanyu of the Xiongnu Bowu, and they requested official positions. This was also the work of His Lordship. His Lordship has the heroic achievement of having settled the Empire, upholding it by means of brilliant virtue. He has spread order between the four seas and propagated virtuous social mores. To me he has given frequent instruction and has exercised caution with regard to torture and imprisonment. Officials are devoid of tyrannous action and the people do not harbor wicked thoughts. He has shown diligent reverence for the imperial clan, memorializing to preserve for posterity the lives of the deceased, and of those who formerly were virtuous, and achieved merit in bygone times, there were none who were not taken into account. Though Yi Yin brought order to the Heavens and Duke Zhou spread illumination to the four seas, they are nothing in comparison to His Lordship.

80: The Book of Han continued states, “Lu was styled Hongyu and was a native of Gaoping in Shanyang. When he was young he studied under Zheng Xuan and at the beginning of Jianan he served in the Gentlemen of the General Staff.” Yu Pu’s Records of Jiangbiao state, “One time, while alone, Emperor Xian saw Lu and the Privy Treasurer Kong Rong, and he asked Rong, ‘What are Hongyu’s strong points?’ Rong replied, ‘He is suitable for following orders but is not suited for authority.’ Lu lifted his tablet and said, ‘Rong formerly governed Beihai and the government caused the people to scatter about, such was the stability of his administration!’ Soon after he and Rong kept their distance from each other to the point that they became unfriendly. His Excellency composed a letter to reconcile them. Lu received honor and income for meritorious service and was made Imperial Counselor.
81: The Detailed Record of His Excellency states, “The sovereign was like a superfluous () tassel ().” He Xiu says, “ Zhui4 (Superfluous) is pronounced like zhui4 (patch together). Liu2 (tassel) is equivalent in meaning to qi2 (flag). ‘Tassel’ is used metaphorically, meaning that the Emperor was an accessory to those who were seizing territory left and right.”
82: The Life of Marquis Wen states, “Those who also first upheld them.” Zheng Xuan says, “To be upheld one must first have ministers. And so he named His Excellency as Imperial Counselor.”
83: The Record of the Zuo Clan states, “The various lords gave up their positions for the purpose of sowing discord in the imperial government.” Fu Qian says, “My position is that the various lords gave up their personal interests so as to assist the imperial house.”
84: The Book of Odes states, “Directing the Heavenly throne is like being a shepherd in his field.” Zheng Xian says, “Read jie2 (arrive, limit) as ji2 (extreme, highest, throne).” The Hong Fan states, “By this standard Gun met a violent demise.”

“I have heard that when former kings sought to make plain the virtue of a person they would grant him land and assign to him the use of the common people. They honored them by bestowing favor and preparing gifts, so that the feudatories defended the royal household and in this era everyone made obeisance. Such was the case in the time of King Cheng of Zhou. The states of Guan and Cai were restless, punishing them was difficult and Cheng was anxious for meritorious service. He thereupon dispatched Duke Kang of Shao and Duke Tai of Qi with authority to go forth, eastward to the sea, west to the Yellow River, north to Muling and south to Wudi, levying troops against the five marquises and the nine feudal chieftains. The people of his era gave him favor as a great master because he expanded the imperial borders out to the East China Sea. Further on in the time of King Xiang there were persons in Chu who did not do their duty for the King, and so he designated Wen of Jin to ascend to rank of High Duke. He granted him the use of the Two Carriages, Warriors Rapid as Tigers, the Ceremonial axe and the Battleaxe, Black-Millet Liquor, and the Bow and Arrows, and he fully opened up Nanyang, for which the people of his time regarded him as an ally of the King. For this reason the Zhou Kingdom did not come to ruin and through these two states alone was prosperous. Presently His Lordship is regarded as being of great and manifest virtue and has made plain his defense of my person. He has received with respect the Will of Heaven, scattering forth his great uprightness out to ((緩爰) huan3 yuan2) the Nine Territories. There are none that do not obey his will (85) and his achievements are as lofty as those of Yi or Zhou, yet his rewards are inferior to those of Qi and Jin, and I am greatly ashamed. When I was but a very small person I was entrusted with ascending over the great mass of common people, and I am always lamenting and fainting from the difficulties, it is as if I were wading through an icy whirlpool. Were it not for His Lordship’s assistance I would be without any control. Now I take Ji province’s commanderies of Hedong, Henei, Wei, Zhao, Zhongshan, Changshan, Julu, Anping, Ganling and Pingyuan, ten commanderies in all, and confer on His Lordship the rank of Duke of Wei. I grant to His Lordship black earth (玄土) and thatching straw made from white grass (白茅), and also decoratively engraved tortoiseshell to offer up to the great altar of the god of land. In former times during the Zhou dynasty, the Duke of Bi and the Duke of Mao came forward to render assistance as ministers, and as counts they defended Zhou and Shao. They held responsibility for both internal and external affairs, and His Lordship is certainly deserving of this. Accordingly he is to be Imperial Chancellor while also holding the position of Governor of Ji province as before. In addition, I grant to His Lordship the Nine Distinctions and in this I hope that he will respectfully submit to my wishes. He has planned and administered the ceremonial rites and regulations, acted as a moral standard for the common people and caused them to go about their occupations peacefully with none straying from their commitments. I therefore dispense to His Lordship use of the Grand Chariot and War Chariot, one of each, with two teams black stallions. His Lordship has pursued the division and allocation of agricultural labor so that farm workers are variegated ( hun1) in their duties (86), accumulating great stores of grain and silk, and the empire prospered. Accordingly I put at His Lordships disposal the garments of Imperial Robe and Crown, with matching Crimson Slippers. His Lordship is honest and reverent yet modest and self-effacing, causing the common people’s conduct to flourish. The young show courtesy for the old and all about everything is harmonious, wherefore I dispense to His Lordship the Suspended Musical Instruments and the Six Ranks of Dancers. His Lordship has made proclamations on morals and manners outward in all directions, so that distant persons have changed their ways and Huaxia is rejuvenated. I therefore grant to His Lordship to reside behind the Vermilion Door. He is detailed in his understanding of philosophy and gives thought to the difficulties of the emperor, appoints only the virtuous to government office and the good are certain to be raised up out of the crowd. Accordingly I grant to His Lordship to ascend by means of the Inner Stairway. His Lordship holds control over the country and adopts a stern countenance towards those dwelling within, as he does not back away from even the most insignificant of evils. Therefore I give to him Warriors Rapid as Tigers numbering three hundred men. His Lordship has piously rectified the heavenly punishments and criminal codes and regulations. (87) He put an end to forced labor as punishment for offenders, and there were none that were not put to death. I accordingly give to His Lordship the Ceremonial Axe and the Battle-Axe, one of each. His Lordship has the tread of a dragon and the glance of a tiger, with a sweeping gaze from on high stretching in every direction. He sent sudden attacks against those that rebelled against moral order and subdued the land within the four seas. Therefore I give to him a Red Bow, with one hundred Red Arrows, and ten Black Bows with one thousand Black Arrows. His Lordship has laid a foundation by means of his kindness and reverence, and his filial piety and helpfulness have served as a model of virtue. He is renowned for his dutiful sincerity and is affected by Our laments. Wherefore I bestow on His Lordship one vessel of the Black Millet Liquor with accompanying Jade Libation Cup. I now install His Lordship as Imperial Chancellor of the State of Wei with a group of one hundred assistant ministers serving under him, just as the feudal lords’ enfeoffment as kings at the start of Han. Go forward by my own decree and respectfully submit to my wishes! In short, give relief to your people, assist by means of your numerous talents, make full use of your manifest virtue and raise again my fallen mandate from the High Ancestor! (88)

85: Pan Gong states, “He brought peace to ( yuan2) the multitudes.” Zheng Xuan states, “ yuan2 (pull, in) equates to yu2 (at, to, by). He pacified those in concealment by means of his multitudes.” Jun Shi states, “He went forth daily to the outlying coastal areas and there were none who did not obey his will.” shuai4 (converge, obey) equates to xun2 (adhere to, abide by) and bi3 (cause, enable) equates to 使 shi3 (cause, use). He daily went forth to spread illumination to the four corners of the empire, and there were none who did not abide by the law and be willing to serve.
86: Pan Geng states, “He stabilized the devastated system of agriculture and the performance of the work was no longer disordered ( hun1).” Zheng Xuan states, “ hun1 (variegated, confused, chaotic) should be mian3 (exhort, make effort).”
87: The statement “His Lordship has piously rectified the heavenly punishments” comes from the Guo Yu and Wei Zhao makes the following annotation on it, “ jiu1 (rectify, gather together) should be cha2 (inquire, look into). qian2 (pious, devout) should be jing4 (respect, venerate). xing2 (punishment, torture) should be fa3 (law, way).”
88: These are the words of the Latter Han Minister of Writing and Left Prime Minister Pan Xu. Xu was styled Yuanmao and was a citizen of Zhongmou in Chenliu. The Book of Wei adds a decree of His Excellency’s saying, “Of men who received the Nine Distinctions and completely liberated all the land, the Duke of Zhou was one such man. Han made kings of eight men whose family names were different (i.e. non-Liu), as they were close affiliates of the High Ancestor from his rise up from the common class to the founding of the Imperial estate. Such honors come to the great, how can I compare to them?” Altogether he declined three times. Thereupon the Military Adviser of the Center and Marquis of the village of Lushu Xun You, the Military Advisor of the Front and Marquis of the village of Dongwu Zhong Yao, the Military Advisor of the Left Liang Mao, the Military Advisor of the Right Mao Jie, the General Who Pacifies Caitiffs and Marquis of Huaxiang Liu Xun, the General Who Establishes Firmness and Marquis of the village of Qingyuan Liu Ruo, the General Who Calms the Waves and Marquis of Gaoan Xiahou Dun, the General Who Manifests Firmness and Marquis of a chief village Wang Zhong, the General Who Exerts Might and Marquis of Yuexiang Liu Zhan, the General Who Establishes Loyalty and Marquis of the village of Changxiang Xianyu Fu, the General Who Exerts Firmness and Marquis of the village of Anguo Cheng Yu, the Grand Palace Grandee and Marquis of Duxiang Jia Xu, the Military Advisor of Offering Sacrifices and Marquis of the village of Qianqiu Dong Zhao, the Marquis of a chief village Xue Hong, the Marquis of the village of Nanxiang Dong Meng, the Marquises Within the Imperial Domain Wang Can and Fu Xun, the Assistants of Sacrifices Wang Xuan, Yuan Huan, Wang Lang, Zhang Cheng, Ren Fan and Du Xi, the Escort to the Army and Marquis of the village of Guoming Cao Hong, the Conveyor of the Army and Marquis of the village of Wansui Han Hao, the General of Resolute Cavalry and Marquis of the village of Anping Cao Ren, the General Who Gives Protection to the Army Wang Tu, and the Palace Attendants Wan Qian, Xie Huan and Yuan Ba and others urged him to receive it, saying, “From the ancient time of the Three Dynasties territory has been conferred upon officials in return for perfectly executing their orders. Official rank has been bestowed on those who assist their ruler, in all cases so as to honor their achievements and reward their virtue in acting to defend the country to its very borders. Previously the empire collapsed into disorder and a throng of fierce and able men rose up, stepping forward to domineer over the strategic passes, and we cannot refrain from speaking out. With pure heart you exerted yourself in the restoration of order to the point of nearly dying from the hardships. You put the two usurping, rebel Yuan to death, stamped out every sect of the Yellow Turban bandits, exterminated the rebellious foreign chieftains, cleared away and distributed abandoned and weed-choked land and have been immersed in freezing cold and dampness for more than twenty years. In the whole of recorded deeds up to now there are no such accomplishments as these. In former times the Duke of Zhou followed in the footsteps of (Kings) Wen and Wu and took up the completion of their undertaking. His loftiness rests upon his writing skill, that he, with both hands clasped, bowed respectfully before the many dukes and princes and was as diligent as Yan and Shang. For this reason, after only two years, of the three divisions of the empire Lu Wang already had two and could rely on the eight hundred feudal chiefs. Consequently, though he took hold of the Battle-Axe of Authority and directed the reins of power for only a short time, he vastly expanded the royal territory, bridging provinces and doubling the size of the country. The Duke of Zhou had eight sons, all of them becoming marquises and counts, and a strong white bull and red horse were sacrificed to all of them, with the manner of the ceremony and sacrificial objects mimicking those of the Imperial household. Glory and commendation are bestowed on the prosperous, such as these great men. At the time of the start of Han rewards were given to the ministers Zhang Er and Wu Rui for their meritorious service in the hinterlands, incorporating their cities as foreign adjuncts, which faced south and remained independent. These all reflect that a wise lord, to achieve control, must reward with authority, and that a worthy minister, to officiate wisely, must accept them with submissiveness. The Three Dynasties established this standard and the Han Emperors made it clear. Your hard work is more outstanding than that of Zhou and Lu (), your schemes and exploits dwarf those of Zhang and Wu, your evaluation of internal affairs is twice as good as that of Qi and Lu () and your proposals concerning the use of the land exceed those of Changsha. It is correct tradition that you be granted the state of Wei and honored with the Nine Distinctions and moreover, those who received rewards in olden times could still conceal their cherished jade beneath coarse, brown clothing. Furthermore you have made marquises of all your generals, who are fortunate to be attached to a great and eminent man and have gained by pilfering from your grand efforts. We wear purple, ornamental buckles and cherished, golden seals, one hundred in number so bestowed, such that your generals consequently will live on for all time while Your Excellency forswears reward by the emperor. Of us, your generals, this refusal has caused our hearts to be uneasy; of the emperor, you have gone against the favor of the imperial court; and of the people, you have disappointed their great hope for you to be crowned. You are forgetting the grand profession of assistant to the country and are embracing the meager occupation of an ordinary man, and all of us are greatly fearful.” Whereupon His Excellency, admonished for his disobedience, submitted to the imperial decree but would only accept Wei commandery. His men spoke again, saying, “You hid from sight when you were first conferred the State of Wei, giving thought to the wisdom of the imperial court, and considering the advice of the throng of your fellow-officials, whereafter you wrote to accept the appointment. However Your Illustrious Excellency continues to go against the Emperor’s intentions and will not ascend to the grand ceremony. Presently you should reverently receive the imperial appointment and conform and yield to the expectations of your men, but you choose to forsake the great and accept the small, giving away the nine and accepting just the one. Thus you make the awards of the Han Emperor out to be no good, and the pleas of your men to be disagreeable. In former times the conferments upon Qi and Lu extended out to the East China Sea, and the territory’s taxable units of farmland numbered four thousand families, laying a foundation of prosperity from which to launch far-reaching enterprises and making it easier to render meritorious service. Because of this they were able to successfully achieve the worthy deeds of giving assistance to their rulers, and establishing and upholding them. Now, although the State of Wei has in its possession ten commanderies it is still smaller than Qufu, as with regard to the number of families it cannot sport even half. Regarding usability for defending the imperial house and establishing walls for protection it is also insufficient. The emperor made his order through seeing how Qin perished through the disaster of being without assistants, and daily guards against the formerly daily hardships of trauma and dissolution, and so seeks to establish a worthy person to put a stop to the ruination. This is the root source of why Your Illustrious Excellency should respectfully submit to the emperor’s appointment and no longer refuse.” His Excellency thereupon accepted the appointment. The Wei Lue records His Excellency submitting a letter of thanks to the emperor, saying, “Your minister received the late emperor’s generous kindness of extending to me a position in officialdom. Being by nature weak and idle my hopes and expectations were fully satisfied, and I did not dare to yearn for high office and so become illustrious an influential. When Dong Zhuo’s insurrection occurred the righteous acted to risk their lives during the troubles, and for this reason I roused myself vigorously to go forth and ravage the rebel multitudes at swordpoint. And so came many years’ traveling as I offered military service, up to the present. The inflammation of the two Yuan surged forth simultaneously and I was caught in the middle of their encroachment. Your Majesty and myself were chilled with fear and mutually concerned, and looking with reverence upon the capital city, I advanced to receive the fierce enemy forces. I was constantly fearful that Your Lordship and myself alike would both fall into the tiger’s maw as I sincerely did not expect myself able to fully face them at the same time. You relied on the spirits of your forebears to protect you, to likewise exterminate the evil ones and make it possible to clandestinely use Your minister to move between them unannounced. Your Majesty increased your favor, rewarding over and above the position of prime minister by granting me noble rank and salary. Your abundant magnanimity and vast favor, my whole life’s desire, were truly unexpected. I spoke my plans from the heart and am overjoyed just to hold office. I have retained my string of marquisates to pass on to my descendants while I myself am entrusted with the emperor’s life, so that they need never be worried with responsibility. I did not wish for Your Majesty to issue forth your great desire, that of preparing to bestow the founding of a state, and thereupon confer it upon a simpleton like your minister. This territory, in comparison to that of Qi and Lu, is an identical gift of kingly domain but in contrast your minister is without those men’s accomplishments that were suitable for receiving it. When, on returning, I heard of your kindly appointment, I did not have an audience with you to accept. The seriousness of the imperial order was brought home to me and truly caused for your minister in his heart to submit to the pressure. I submitted myself to a frugal reward only because, in holding the position of a high minister, my duty is to manage the imperial household and so my life does not belong to me, how could I dare to be selfish? However, soon after I withdrew my humble intentions and my preparations to resign, and was compelled to ascend to receive the original appointment. As I now receive this territory and prepare to have my vassal state set down in writing, I am uncertain of the future and have anxiety for later generations. Just as a father and son swear a lifelong, mutual oath, burning their bodies to ash at the end of their lives, so in like manner do I respond to your grand favor. I bear the might of Heaven in my countenance and with great trepidation I accept the imperial order.”

In the fall, during the seventh month, His Excellency began setting up the Wei government and ancestral temples. The Son of Heaven wed three of His Excellency’s daughters and they became court ladies, though the youngest remained in the country until she came of age. (89) In the ninth month he constructed the Golden Tiger Pavilion and dug out a canal to divert the Zhang River water into the White canal so as to connect it with the Yellow River. In the winter, during the tenth month, he divided Wei commandery into eastern and western districts under control of a Chief Commandant. In the eleventh month he first set up the Masters of Writing, the Regular Attendants and the Six Ministries. (90)

89: The Record of Emperor Xian’s Daily Life states, “The Emperor tasked the Staff of Authority to the Acting Grand Master of Ceremonies, Grand Minister of Agriculture and Marquis of the village of Anyang Wang Yi and had him send black jade, red silk and fifty bolts of thin, coarse silk to Ye as payment for the marriage. Five men to serve as assistants to the marriage, all of them of Yilang rank, were also granted to assist His Excellency with the matter as well as one man to serve as deputy assistant.
90: The Annals of the Wei Clan state, “His Excellency appointed Xun You to be Prefect of the Masters of Writing, Liang Mao to be Supervisor, Mao Jie, Cui Yan, Chang Lin, Xu Yi, and He Kui to be Masters of Writing and Wang Can, Du Xi, Wei Ji and He Xia to be Regular Palace Attendants.

Ma Chao was in Hanyang commandery and was again spurring the Qiang and Hu to do evil. The King of the Di Qian Wan rebelled in response to Chao and encamped at Xingguo. His Excellency tasked Xiahou Yuan with punishing them.

In the nineteenth year, in the spring and during the first month, His Excellency for the first time ploughed the sacred field. Zhao Qu of Nanan, Yin Feng of Hanyang and others sent a punitive expedition against Chao, beheading his wife and son, and Chao fled to Hanzhong. Han Sui traveled to Jincheng and joined up with the King of the Di Qian Wan’s army to lead the ten thousand cavalry of the Qiang and Hu and enjoin Xiahou Yuan in battle. Yuan struck and inflicted a massive defeat on them and Sui fled to Xiping. Yuan and all of his generals assaulted Xingguo and slaughtered the inhabitants. His Excellency eliminated Andong and Yongyang commandery.

When the Grand Administrator of Anding Guanqiu Xing was preparing to assume that office, His Excellency warned him, saying, “The Qiang and Hu desire unimpeded access through China and you yourself must bear the arriving men they dispatch and be careful not to send out men against them. Capable men are one in a thousand so you must certainly make known to the Qiang and Hu that it would be rash to strive to engage you for the sake of desiring themselves to benefit, that it would be of no value to act contrarily with base intentions, and therefore would be a fruitless enterprise.” When Xing arrived he dispatched Colonel Fan Ling to go to the Qiang within and Ling succeeded in so instructing the Qiang, causing for himself to be asked to be Chief Commandant of Shu state. His Excellency said, “I knew in advance that you would be suitable, for though you are not a sage, still I repay you for your numerous achievements alone.” (91)

91: The Records of Emperor Xian’s Daily Life state, “The Emperor tasked the Acting Grand Master of Ceremonies, Grand Minister of Agriculture and Marquis on the village of Anyang Wang Yi, and the Director of the Imperial Clan Liu Ai, with the Staff of Authority, with five men as assistants. They sent bundles of silk and a team of horses and additionally sent officials of the Gentlemen in Attendance at the Yellow Gates, supporting imperial court officials and two eunuchs of the Regular Palace Attendants to welcome the two noblemen from the Duke of Wei’s state. In the second month, on the guihai day, the Emperor, at the Duke of Wei’s ancestral temple, gave official seals to them. On the jiazi day the Emperor called on the Duke of Wei at his palace by the Gate of Prolonged Autumn to welcome him to ascend the chariot. The Emperor dispatched the Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace, the Privy Treasurer, the Bo Shi, the Prefect of the Imperial Horsemen of the Yellow Stables and the Imperial Chancellor with their subordinate officials to attend to the him. On the guiyou day, when they arrived at Weicang, the Emperor sent the Palace Attendant Dan leading a voluminous crowd of men Rapid As Tigers all around, in an endless stream of horses, to welcome them. On the yihai day the two noblemen entered the palace and the Imperial Clerk Grandee, the Jiang Dafu with salary of fully two thousand shi and the Gentleman-Consultants congregated at the rear of the palace, while the two ministers of the State of Wei, the Regular Palace Attendants and two Gentlemen of the Household joined with the Excellencies and Ministers of Han in the palace hall for a celebratory banquet.

In the third month the Emperor placed His Excellency above all the Marquises and Kings, giving him the Golden Seal, the Scarlet Sash and the Cap for Long Journeys. (92)

92: The Record of Emperor Xian’s Daily Life states, “The Emperor tasked the General of the Gentlemen of the Household on the Left Yang Xuan and the Marquis of a village Pei Mao with the Staff of Authority to convey the seal to His Excellency.

In the seventeenth year His Excellency launched an expedition against Sun Quan. (93)

93: The Annals of the Nine Provinces state, “The Advisor to the Army Fu Gan remonstrated with him, saying, ‘There are two primary tools for governing the empire, civil administration and the military. To use the military you must first be powerful and to utilize civil administration you must first be benevolent. Power and virtue together are sufficient for achievement and from them the path to becoming king is prepared. Formerly the empire was in great disorder and the high and low were all out of place. Your Illustrious Excellency used military force to expel them and out of every ten, nine were so pacified. Currently you are not yet the bearer of the Imperial Mandate, there are also Wu and Shu, Wu having the natural defense of the Yangtze River and Shu the impediment of lofty mountains. It would be difficult to make them submit through brute force, but easy to pacify them through virtuous administration. I believe that you may for the time being put aside your armor, lay down your weapons, rest your army and give support to your soldiers by parceling out land to give as conferments, awarding people according to their contributions. If you follow these guidelines then the hearts of those within and without will be steady, persons of merit will put forth effort and the whole of the empire will be aware of your administration. Afterwards you can establish schools for the purpose of instructing those of a good nature and developing their righteousness and moral integrity. Your Excellency’s repute as a conquering general spreads fear to the lands within the four seas and if you cultivate civil administration to complement this, then in all the land there will be none who will think of not submitting. Currently you have raised a multitude of one hundred thousand soldiers and have stationed them on the banks of the Yangtze River, and if the rebels stand pat and rely on deep storehouses then your infantry and cavalry will not be able to put their talents to use. In this unexpected turn of events you will be without the use of their advantages, and so your great power will be subverted and you will not subdue the hearts of the enemy. Your Illustrious Excellency should consider Yu Shun’s wielding the battle-axe righteously, using all of your power to cultivate virtue and in this way bring about victory.” His Excellency did not obey and consequently the army failed to achieve. Gan was styled Yancai, was a native of Beidi and to the end of his life served as Imperial Chancellor to the Cao family. He had a son named Xuan.

Earlier, Song Jian of Longxi proclaimed himself King of the Source of the Yellow River Who Will Pacify Han, gathering a multitude at Fuhan, and had been changing the imperial reign years and setting up officials of all rank and type for thirty years. His Excellency dispatched Xiahou Yuan from Xingguo to punish him. In the winter, during the tenth month, he slaughtered the men of Fuhan, beheading Jian and pacifying Liang province.

His Excellency returned from Hefei.

The Han Empress, who was of the Fu clan, had earlier conspired with her kinsmen to send a letter to the Colonel of Garrison Cavalry Wan, saying that the Emperor hated His Excellency for executing Dong Cheng, and their writing was very hateful. When His Excellency learned of it the Empress was dethroned and put to death and her kinsmen were all executed. (94)

94: The Record of Cao Man states, “His Excellency dispatched Hua Xin with soldiers to forcefully enter the palace and collect the Empress and she barricaded the door and hid inside the wall. Xin destroyed the door, opened up the wall, and led the Empress away. The Emperor was at this time seated with the Palace Assistant Grandee Chi Lu when the Empress, with bedraggled hair and walking barefoot, went by and grasped the Emperor’s hand, saying, “Can you not protect my life from this villainy?” The Emperor replied, “I, too, do not know when my fated time will come.” The Emperor said to Lu, “Master Chi, how can there be such villainy in a tranquil world?” Soon after His Excellency prepared the Empress and executed her, and Wan and his clansmen were put to death, to the tune of one hundred men.

In the twelfth month His Excellency arrived at Mengjin. The Son of Heaven bestowed on His Excellency the right to wear a yak’s tail braid in his hair and to set up the Musical Rack of Bells at his palace. On the ziwei day His Excellency issued a decree saying, “A man having an official’s ability is not necessarily able to obtain advancement and a man who obtains advancement to officialdom does not necessarily have ability. How can it be that Chen Ping, who was sincere in his conduct, and Su Qin, who was trustworthy, were villainous? Chen Ping brought order to Han and Su Qin gave aid to the weakened Yan. From this one can say of them that though an official has flaws, that their use should not be abolished! If those in administration would give clear thought to this meaning then no officials would be left behind in stagnation, and the government will be without wasted occupations.” He spoke again, saying, “When a man is punished by torture, one hundred of his family members are likewise punished, but within the army the statute concerning prisoners is not only to blame their adult relatives but also permits the army to engage in putting their children to death, and I am greatly fearful of this. This being so I have decided it is sensible to revise the law and order that the law be punishment by torture.”

In the twentieth year, during the spring and in the first month, the Son of Heaven set up one of His Excellency’s daughters to be Empress. His Excellency did away with the commanderies of Yunzhong, Dingxian, Wuyuan and Shuofang, replacing each commandery with a single county over its populace and joined them all as Xinxing commandery.

In the second month His Excellency led an expedition westward against Zhang Lu and on arriving at Chencang he prepared to head from Wudu into Di territory. The Di people were blocking the way and he had earlier dispatched Zhang He, Zhu Ling and their men to attack and defeat them. In the summer, during the fourth month, His Excellency left from Chencang to enter the San Pass and arrived at Hechi. The King of the Di Doumao had a multitude of ten thousand men and depended on the treacherous terrain to avoid submission. In the fifth month His Excellency attacked and massacred them. Xiping and Jincheng’s leaders, Qu Yan, Jiang Shi and their men, joined forces to behead Han Sui and deliver his head. (95) In the autumn, during the seventh month, His Excellency arrived at Yangping. Zhang Lu tasked his brother Wei, together with his general Yang Ang and his men, to seize Yangping Pass and across the hills they erected walls ten li in length. His Excellency attacked but was unable to capture them and thereupon led the army away. When the rebels saw the great army retreat their defensive preparations dissolved. His Excellency thereupon secretly dispatched Xie Piao, Gao Zuo and their men into the passes on horseback to make a night raid, massively defeating them and beheading their general Yang Ren. They advanced to attack Wei and he and his men fled into the night, while Lu was routed and fled to Bazhong. His Excellency’s army entered Nanzheng and thoroughly looted Lu’s home and storehouses of their valuables. (96) Ba and Han commanderies both capitulated. His Excellency turned over Hanning commandery to become part of Hanzhong and divided off Hanzhong’s counties of Anyang and Xicheng to form Xicheng commandery, and installed a Grand Administrator. He also divided off Xi county to form Shangyong commandery and installed a Chief Commandant.

95: The Dianlue states, “Sui was styled Wenyue and started in the same commandery as Bian Zhang, and they both became famous in the western provinces. Zhang became Army Supervisor of the General Staff. Sui went to the capital to present a scheme and when He Jin became aware of Sui’s fame he met with him in private. Sui tried to persuade Jin to order the execution of all the eunuchs but Jin would not comply, and then asked him to go home. Song Yang of Liang province, Gong Yu from the north and others gathered and rebelled, selecting Zhang and Sui to be their leaders. Soon thereafter Zhang fell ill and died and Sui led Yang and the others in plunder without end. He obstructed the army by means of armed rebellion for thirty-six years, up until the time of his death at more than seventy years of age.” Liu Ai’s Records of Emperor Ling states, “Zhang originally was called Yan.”
96: The Book of Wei states, “The army traveled one thousand li from the capital to the mountains, up and down over dangerous and difficult terrain, and the soldiers toiled hard. His Excellency therefore made a great sacrifice and there were none whose efforts he overlooked.

In the eighth month Sun Quan besieged Hefei, and Zhang Liao and Li Dian attacked and defeated him.

In the ninth month, in Ba the King of the Seven Clans of the Yi Po Hu and the Marquis of the city of Cong Du Huo moved the Yi to Ba and the Chinese citizens came and clustered about Cong city. (97) His Excellency thereupon divided Ba commandery, appointing Hu Grand Administrator of Badong commandery and appointing Huo Grand Administrator of Baxi commandery, conferring upon each of them the rank of Marquis. The Son of Heaven assigned to His Excellency control over the granting of official posts of all Marquises, Administrators and Ministers. (98)

97: Sun Sheng states, “Po () has the same tone as Fu (), and Huo () has the same tone as Hu ().”
98: Kong Yan’s Annals of Han and Wei state, “The Son of Heaven utilized His Excellency to carry out external appointments and the rewards given at the time of service, so in the interests of efficiency he assigned to His Excellency direct control over the granting of official posts of all Marquises, Administrators and Ministers. The decree stated, ‘A man with overall control of the army is reliant upon rewards and punishments to exhort goodness and punish vice, and they ought not be drawn out over an extended period for, as Sima’s Law says, ‘One giving rewards should not take more than a single day’ if one desires for the common people to quickly see the benefits of acting virtuously. In former times of resurgence, when Deng Yu entered the Passes he held direct control over granting military appointments and performed a ceremonial libation to Li Wen, making him Grand Administrator of Hedong. Lai She also held control over granting official posts and made Gao Jun General Who Opens Roadways, and on examination of their principal biographies, in each case they did not make a request in advance but knew to carve the seal of office at the time of the service. This standard Shi Zu divinely understood, that when considering the enactment of punishments of rewards, one should use all due haste in displaying one’s affection to subordinates and in making great and meritorious service known. Such is the lesson of the Spring and Autumn Annals, that when a great man leaves his territory he may engage in matters without authorization, and is indifferent because he must focus on benefiting the state, pacifying the nation and nothing else. Moreover Your Lordship holds the appointments of the two feudal princes and has mastery over the nine provinces. You have launched expeditions against the foreigners within Xia and when the army has traveled beyond the boundaries of the imperial domain you have lost the possibility of rewarding then and there because of this intervening distance. You have had to delay rewards while awaiting the imperial order, which accordingly brings the business of the times to a standstill, and this is certainly not Our intention. From now on, at the time of deeds of those that distinguish themselves and ought to be marked as deserving favor, carve an informal seal of conferment at your convenience and in all cases employ loyalty and righteousness to obtain mutual encouragement and reward. Please do not have any hesitations.”

In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency first set up the ranks from Marquis of Title to Quintuple Grandee, that together with the old ranks of Marquis and Marquis within the Imperial Domain constituted six grades, for use in rewarding military service. (99)

99: The Book of Wei states, “His Excellency established Marquises of Title as the eighteenth grade of noble rank and the Marquis Within the Passes as the seventeenth, each receiving the golden seal with purple ribbon. His Excellency also established the External Marquis Within the Imperial Domain as the sixteenth grade, receiving the copper seal with tortoiseshell button and black ribbon. Quintuple Grandee was made fifteenth grade, receiving the copper seal with jade button, and also having the black ribbon. None of these received tax income from landholdings and together with the old ranks of Marquis and Marquis Within the Imperial Domain constituted six grades. Your Servant Songzhi is of the opinion that the landless fiefdoms of the present day originated from these (ranks).

In the eleventh month, from Bazhong Lu prepared the remainder of his men to surrender. His Excellency bestowed Lu and his five sons with the rank of Marquis. Liu Bei raided Liu Zhang, taking Yi province, and forthwith occupied Bazhong. His Excellency dispatched Zhang He to strike at him.

In the twelfth month His Excellency returned from Nanzheng, leaving Xiahou Yuan stationed at Hanzhong. (100)

100: In praise of His Excellency’s conduct the Palace Attendant Wang Can composed five occasional poems for the purpose of commending His Excellency’s work, and said, “Soldiers know both joy and hardship, one need only ask those who are so employed. When those so employed are engaged for long periods in military affairs, is not some peace needed for a time to offer gifts to one’s troops? Your Excellency the Prime Minister went out on campaign to the right of the Passes and with awesome fury you brandished the might of Heaven. In one fell cut you decimated the Xun barbarians and with a second swath brought the submission of the Qiang barbarians, and to the west you took control of the rebel frontier lands before suddenly bending down to gather up the soldiers who had been left behind. You laid out rewards for having passed over lofty mountains and gave meat and drink for having crossed rivers. Those within the army ate exceedingly much and man and horse alike were full to bursting. Those who had traveled on foot rode two to a horse on the way back and those who had gone forth with nothing now were provided for. You opened up three thousand li of land and your journey there and back was rapid as flight, there was singing and dancing as you entered Ye city and of those whom you had so lately conquered none were disobedient.”

In the twenty-first year, during the spring and in the second month, His Excellency returned to Ye. (101) In the third month on the renyin day (April 7th, 216) His Excellency ploughed the sacred field. (102) In the summer, during the fifth month, the Son of Heaven advanced His Excellency to noble rank as King of Wei. (103) The Shanyu of the Wuhuan of Dai commandery Pufulu together with his nobles and kings visited the imperial court. The Son of Heaven designated the kings’ daughters to be princesses and to eat, drink and bathe at the capital. During the autumn, in the seventh month, the Shanyu of the Southern Xiongnu Huchuquan readied his renowned kings to visit the imperial court, where they were treated according to the rules of courtesy for guests. Thereafter Huchuquan remained in Wei and dispatched the Virtuous King of the Right Qubei to oversee his country. In the eighth month, on account of his great administrative skill Zhong Yao was made Prime Minister. (104)

101: The Book of Wei states, “On the xinwei day (March 7, 216) the officials prepared a great sacrifice in announcement of his arrival, commending his exploits at the ancestral temple, and on the jiawu day (March 30, 216) at the commencement of the spring sacrifice His Excellency issued a decree saying, ‘There are some critics who expressed the opinion at the spring sacrifices that when I ascend to the palace I ought to remove my boots. I have received the bestowal of imperial decree that I may wear my sword and not remove my shoes when ascending to the palace. Now, to be engaged in matters at the ancestral temple and remove my shoes would be to honor my deceased father but discard the imperial order and show respect for my ancestors but not the emperor, and it is for this reason that I dare not remove my boots when ascending to the palace. Additionally, when the sacrifice is approached for cleansing the water is conveyed by hand but the hands are not washed. It is out of respect that a man cleanses his hands by washing, and I have not heard of conveying (the water) without performing the rite of washing the hands, moreover ‘sacrifices are made to spirits in compliance with them’, so for this reason do I, for my part, receive water and wash my hands. In addition, when the ritual of appeasement of the spirits is finished, the steps are descended toward the curtain and we may rise, I wait until the playing of music has come to an end, so as not to offend my ancestors if the sacrifice is delayed and is not finished quickly. This is the reason why I sit and wait until the music has ended and the spirits have departed, and then stand up. When the sacrificial meat is received for offering to the spirits it is given over to the Palace Attendants, and it is so that it is treated carefully and with reverence that one does not carry it the entire way. However the ancients carried it themselves when engaged in offering sacrifice and this is the reason why, when offering to the spirits, I carry it the entire way and then go back. Zhongni said, ‘Though I go against the majority I am still obedient’, and I say this with all sincerity.”
102: The Book of Wei states, “The officials presented a memorial saying, ‘Through all four seasons you engage in military training, to the detriment of agriculture. Han took up the system of Qin whereby for three of the seasons there was no training, and only in the tenth month put the horse-drawn chariots to use, showing favor at the Yangtze’s southern pass. They would take five battalions of soldiers and have them march backwards and forwards in practice of the eight arrays, and proclaim their intent to make use of them. Presently the progression to Metal has not completed and the soldiers and common people are grounded in old habits. From here on out you should not perform military training through all four seasons and only when autumn begins should you choose a propitious day to ride out in the great imperial chariot, and proclaim your command of the army, thus continuing the system of Han.’ The memorial was approved.”
103: The Biography of Emperor Xian contains an imperial decree stating, “Of the monarchs of antiquity, though they claimed to make varied distinctions with different grades of noble rank, in fact with regard to the honoring of men of great merit, establishing them for their merits and virtues, glory went to the progenitors of families and were passed down to their descendants. They became numerous among a clan’s family and relatives, how could it be that there was any uniqueness? In former times Our Sage Ancestor received the heavenly mandate and began carving out a foundation, creating Our district of Xia and serving as an example for both ancient and modern administration. He joined together all the different noble ranks and used them to seal off the mountain passes and rivers so as to erect defensive borders, doing so by employing the families of different clans to occupy adjacent territories. Therefore, to the end of their lives they defended these places and peace was maintained by many successors. The years passed peacefully and the officials ruled without opposition. Shi Zu restored the nation and resolved the difficulties of the time, and therefore there was freedom from worry for hundreds of years, equal to when the king was set upon the throne by the feudal lords of the clans. I was not virtuous enough to continue the great enterprise and suffered the constant division and ruination of the land. A throng of bloodthirsty men loosed calamity from the west to the east and I was weak and powerless before the hardships. Being caught between these things I was fearful of drowning in difficulty, on account of having disgraced the sacred virtue of the previous emperors. I then had the good fortune that the spirits of heaven sent His Lordship, who with righteousness in hand exerted himself with speedy and fearful martial spirit, defending Us from adversity and capturing and defending the ancestral temples. Of the common people of Huaxia who were left behind he nursed in them proper human relations and there were none who were not so affected. His Lordship’s diligence exceeds that of Ji and Yu, his devotion is equal to that of Yi and Zhou but he hides himself behind modesty and self-effacement and remained at his position because of great respectfulness. Therefore, when my messengers first set up the State of Wei and bestowed on His Lordship this territory, I grew afraid when His Lordship went against the imperial decree and worried over his staunch refusal. For this reason, as in my heart I wanted him to submit to my wishes, I conferred on His Lordship to ascend to the rank of Duke. I desired for there to be the imperial recognition of his lofty virtue that awaited his meritorious achievements. Han Sui and Song Jian went south to bind up Ba and Shu commanderies and a throng of rebels joined with them, and they conspired to endanger the government. His Excellency again prepared for the task and, with dragon-tread and tiger-vigor, he decapitated and exposed the heads of their chiefs and slaughtered those within their hideaways. When he went west on expedition and battled at Yangping, he himself had donned armor and traveled deep into dangerous and difficult terrain. He cleared out and exterminated the verminous rebels and put an end to their terrible evil, wiping clean and pacifying the western frontier. His banner hangs over ten thousand li of territory, the sound of his voice reaches and brings stability to distant places and he has brought peace to Our land of Xia. Because of Tang and Yu’s greatness the Three Empresses celebrated their achievements and of the work that Wen and Wu began, and were assisted in by Dan and Shi, the Two Founders completed it and were heroes who aided the divine mandate. These men, in order to be holy and sagacious sovereigns, themselves appointed those holding government posts. If they granted land and distributed valuables for the purpose of making known the achievements of their ministers, how can it be that We of scant virtue can so rely upon His Lordship for assistance but have not been generous with officially decreed rewards and in reciprocating the incomparable relief granted Us by the divinities? Presently We advance His Lordship to the noble rank of King of Wei and give the use of the Staff of Authority to the Acting Palace Assistant Grandee and Director of the Imperial Clan Liu Ai to convey the imperial seal and Black Earth for sacrifice to the god of land, as well as thatching straw made from White Grass, a golden Tiger Tally with the first through fifth (levels of authority) and a bamboo tally with first through tenth (levels of authority). Though His Lordship has been raised to the position of king, he is to remain Prime Minister and Governor of Ji Province as before. As such I submit to the Duke of Wei the royal seal with attached tally of imperial conferment. Respectfully submit to Our decree compensating you for everything (you have done) and your numerous achievements of subdual and pacification, and use them to raise up Our ancestors’ fallen mandate.” The King of Wei submitted a letter to the Emperor regarding the three appointments stating that he would not accept the threefold imperial edict as repayment. Again the Emperor personally drafted an imperial edict, saying, “The Grand Sage, because of his merits and virtues, was loftily praised and his loyalty and kindness have become the standard, because he established a foundation he became famous and his hundred years of work should be admired. In accordance with the Way he was a just administrator and the utmost effort he put into this conduct should be imitated. As a result his merits and contributions were without end and when he died his magnificence was glorified in writing. Ji and Qi recorded their sovereigns’ wisdom and Zhou and Shao caused for the dissemination of Wen and Wu’s knowledge. Though I manage numerous officials, still I both raise my head and sigh and lower it in contemplation; how can I be a similar such disseminator for His Lordship? I have given thought to the achievements of the men of old and the praise they received for them, and I have thought on His Lordship’s loyal and diligent service and his magnificence demonstrated therein. Consequently, each time I resolve to have a tally carved from jade and issue an imperial decree setting up a ceremony of conferment, and I awake from sleep in deep depression over my own lack of virtue in neglecting to abide by the rites. Currently His Lordship has again disobeyed Our order and stays firm in politely declining, and considers improper Our innermost desire for him to serve as an example to later generations. I ask that he please hold his will in check and not persist in declining.” The Book of the Four Calligraphic Styles states, “Liang Gu had caused for His Excellency to serve as Commandant of the Northern Battalion.” The Record of Cao Man states, “When Gu was with the Masters of Writing, the Deputy Minister on the Right Sima Jiangong served in that office. At the time of His Excellency’s becoming King he summoned Jiangong to Ye, and they joined each other in having a friendly drink, His Excellency asking Jiangong, ‘Am I presently still fit to be made Commandant or not?’ Jiangong replied, ‘Prior to being elevated to King-hood you were only ever suitable to be Commandant’, and The King of Wei roared with laughter. Jiangong was also called Fang and was the father of Sima Xuanwang.” Your servant Songzhi notes that according to the biography of Sima Biao, Jiangong did not serve as Deputy Minister on the Right but I doubt this and think it untrue. Wang Yin in the Book of Jin states that when King Zhao of Jin usurped the throne he desired to honor his ancestors as emperors. The court scholar Ma Ping in his commentary states that the office of the Intendant of Jingzhao had in former times selected King Wu of Wei to be Commandant of the Northern Battalion to prevent the rebels from breaching the borders, and from this Jiangong’s position is verified.
104: The Book of Wei states, “His Excellency first established the rites and ordinances of the office of the Director of the Imperial Clan.”

In the winter, during the tenth month, His Excellency took the reins of the army (105) and forthwith launched an expedition against Sun Quan, and in the eleventh month his arrived at Qiao.

105: The Book of Wei states, “The King of Wei personally beat the metal drum to signal the army to advance or retreat.”

In the twenty-second year, during the spring and in the first month, the King of Wei’s army was at Juchao, and in the second month he advanced the army to garrison west of the Yangtze River at Haoxi. Quan had erected walls at Ruxu for defense and the King of Wei soon after pressed forward to attack him, and Quan withdrew. In the third month the King of Wei led his army back, leaving Xiahou Dun, Cao Ren and Zhang Liao garrisoned at Juchao.

In the summer, during the fourth month, the Son of Heaven assigned the King of Wei the right to display the Son of Heaven’s own banner and to announce his comings and goings so as to give warning to clear a path. In the fifth month he constructed the Palace By the Water. In the sixth month he employed the Adviser to the Army Hua Xin to act as Imperial Counselor. (106) In the winter, during the tenth month, the Son of Heaven gave the order that the King of Wei was to wear the King’s Crown with twelve tassels, to ride in the Root of Gold chariot drawn by six horses, accompanied by the Chariots of the Five Seasons, and that the General of the Gentlemen of the Household For All Purposes Pi was to be crown prince of Wei.

106: The Book of Wei States, “The King of Wei first set up the office of the Commandant of the Guard. In the autumn, during the eighth month, he issued a decree saying, ‘In former times Yi Zhi was considered by Fu Shui to have come from lowly men and Guan Zhong was a rebel against Duke Huan, but in each case they employed them in order to be successful. Xiao He and Cao Can were county officials and Han Xin and Chen Ping suffered from a dishonorable reputation, but they smilingly dismissed the insults, and in the end they were able to bring the imperial enterprise to fruition, such that their renown will resound for a thousand years. Wu Qi was so insatiably desirous of being a general that he murdered his wife to prove his sincerity, distributed gold to entreat officials and when his mother died he did not return. But when he was in Wei the men of Zou did not dare to travel eastward and when he was in Chu the Three Jin did not dare to make designs on the south. Currently the Son of Heaven permits those men who are not of the very greatest virtue to be abandoned among the commoners, with the result that the brave are not called upon to face the enemy forces in battle. If there is a minor official of mean virtue but of uniquely lofty ability, perhaps he would be worthy of a general’s post. If a person suffers from a dishonorable reputation and we smilingly overlook his behavior, then perhaps, though he is inhumane and unfilial, he can manage state affairs and the use of military techniques. As such, each man will be promoted according to ability so that none such will be neglected.’”

Liu Bei dispatched Zhang Fei, Ma Chao and Wu Lan to garrison Xiabian; the King of Wei dispatched Cao Hong to repel them.

In the twenty-third year, during the spring and in the first month, the Prefect Grand Physician of Han Ji Ben, together with the Privy Treasurer Geng Zhi and Director of Uprightness Wei Huang and others, rebelled. They attacked Xu and burnt the Chief Clerk to the Imperial Chancellor Wang Bi’s estate walls (107) and so Bi, together with the General of the Gentlemen of the Household in Charge of Agriculture Yan Kuang of Yingzhuan, dispatched a punitive expedition to behead them. (108)

107: The History of King Wu of Wei records a decree saying, “I advance Wang Bi to Chief Clerk, as he has been one of my officials since I made my way through the thorny and difficult times. He is loyal and diligent in his duties, his mind is solid as iron and he is a good and honest official of the state. I have been remiss for a long time in not granting him official advancement, and just as if I were to forsake a fine, thoroughbred horse and not ride it, should I not be alarmed and seek to rectify things? For this reason let official advancement be granted to him to be set up in his proper place, and so be promoted to Chief Clerk over all government affairs, as is befitting.”
108: The Annotations to the Revealed Record of the Three Adjuncts state, “At this time there was at Jingzhao a man named Jin Yi, styled Deyi, who considered himself to be a servant of Han for life and from Ridi he had sent a punitive expedition against Mang Heluo. His fealty was remarkable and his reputation for moral integrity gathered like a pile of leaves. He saw that the Han throne was about to be changed and some said it was therefore a necessary time for rising up. He thereupon sighed deeply at this truth, giving free vent to his grievance and forthwith he jointly plotted with Geng Ji, Wei Huang, Ji Ben, Ben’s son Miao, Miao’s younger brother Mu and others. Ji was styled Jixing and when he was young he acquired a good reputation serving as an assistant to the Imperial Chancellor. The King of Wei bestowed especial veneration and distinction upon him, and reassigned him to the Palace Attendants to guard the Privy Treasurer. Miao was styled Wenran and Mu was styled Siran. Because Yi’s vehement opinions at Ridi had become known but Yi was also on friendly terms with Wang Bi, they therefore separated them so that they could kill Bi. They desired to take possession of the Son of Heaven in order to attack Wei, with aid from Liu Bei in the south. At the time Guan Yu had grown powerful and the King of Wei was at Ye, having left Bi in command of the army to supervise affairs within Xu. Wenran and the others led a force comprised of their family servants numbering one thousand men, and by night they torched the gate and attacked Bi. Yi had dispatched men to act as agents from within and they shot Bi in the shoulder. Bi did not know who the attackers were and out of habit from his friendship with Yi he sought refuge from him, in the darkness calling out for Deyi. Yi’s family did not know it was Bi and, thinking it someone acting with Wenran and the others, they made the mistake of replying, ‘Is Wang Changshi dead yet? That minister of Cao is aiding the usurpation!’ Bi thereupon turned and fled in the other direction.” One commentator states, “Bi desired to take refuge with Yi when his Controller At Headquarters spoke to him, saying, ‘Regarding the unexpected events of this day, are you aware that who is at the gate and who you are flinging yourself toward are one?’ He then helped Bi flee to Nancheng. When they saw by the light of day that Bi was still alive, Wenran and the throng of others dispersed because of their failure. Ten days later, without warning Bi perished from his injury.” The Annals of Emperor Xian state, “They rounded up Ji, Huang and the others and were preparing to behead them when Ji cried out the King of Wei’s name, saying, ‘The disobedience was mine and not the desire of my offspring, as my children chanced upon this gathering and were in this place only by accident!’ Huang lowered his head, with his cheeks in his hands, right up to the moment of his death.” The Annotations to the Collected Records of Shanyang state, “When the King of Wei heard that Wang Bi had died he was filled with rage and issued a summons for all of the Han officials (at Xu) to come to Ye, where he ordered those who had fought the fire to stand to the left, and those who had not to stand to the right. The gathering of men believed that those who had fought the fire would certainly be found blameless so they all went to the left. However, the King of Wei opined, ‘The ones who did not fight the fire did not add to the confusion, so those who did fight the fire are therefore the true malefactors.’ He then killed all of them.

Cao Hong defeated Wu Lan and beheaded Lan’s general Ren Kui and his men. In the third month, Zhang Fei and Ma Chao traveled to Hanzhong, and Yinpingdi and Qiangduan beheaded Wu Lan and sent them his head.

In the summer, during the fourth month, in Dai commandery Shangyu of the Wuhuan and Wuchendi and their men rebelled, and the King of Wei dispatched Yanling Houzhang to defeat them. (109)

109: The Book of Wei records a decree made by the King of Wei saying, “At the end of winter a leprous pestilence descended from the heavens, the people have become withered and sickly, the army is beginning to disperse, the cultivation of land is dwindling and I am very concerned about this. As such, I issue this decree to officials and citizens, men and women alike. For women of seventy or more years of age who are without husband or children, and for those twelve years of age or younger who are without parents or brothers, whose eyes are without sight, whose hands are incapable of work, whose legs are incapable of walking, and or who are without a wife’s marriage property received from her father and elder brothers, are to be fed from government granaries for life. Children up to twelve years of age, that are impoverished and unable to provide for themselves, are accordingly to be provided with a loan. For the decrepit who are in need of providers, and who are over ninety years of age and also unable to work, they are to have a person residing with them.”

In the sixth month the King of Wei issued a decree saying, “Those interred in ancient times were required to rest in barren earth. As such I order that the frontier highlands to the west of the ancestral temple’s Western Panther Gate to be used for my tomb, because the elevated area can serve as the foundation and will not require mounding up the earth or planting trees. The Zhou custom regarding the tombs of subordinates within the burial ground was that all of the feudal lords were to rest to the right, left and in front while the ministers and senior officials were to reside in back, and the Han regulations also had this standard for the accompanying tombs. The ministers and officials deemed as being persons of achievement will be suitable to accompany my tomb, and their vast number will serve as a region of portent, showing the worth of mutual cooperation.”

In the autumn, during the seventh month, the King of Wei took control of the army and forthwith went west on an expedition against Liu Bei, and in the ninth month he arrived at Changan.

In the winter, during the tenth month, at Wan the defending officer Hou Yin and his men rebelled, seized the Grand Administrator of Nanyang, plundered and robbed the officials and citizenry and fortified Wan. Earlier, Cao Ren had been sent to attack Guan Yu who was encamped at Fancheng. The next month, the King of Wei sent Ren to surround Wan.

In the twenty-fourth year, during the spring and in the first month, Ren massacred the people of Wan and beheaded Yin. (110)

110: The Record of Cao Man states, “At the time those within Nanyang suffered from forced labor and Yin therefore seized the Grand Administrator (Dongli Gun) and with the officials and citizenry he jointly rebelled, forming an alliance with Guan Yu. Nanyang’s distinguished officer Zong Ziqing went to speak persuasively with Yin, saying, ‘You have obeyed the heartfelt feelings of the citizenry and in carrying out this great work, far and near there are none who do not take notice. But the seizure of the commandery’s head officer is contrary and pointless, why not release him? I and my son will uphold you with all our might and then, when Duke Cao’s army comes, Guan Yu’s soldiers will also have arrived.’ Yin obeyed him and straightway set free the Grand Administrator. Ziqing because of this climbed over the city walls and fled outside, and then with the Grand Administrator rounded up the rest of the citizenry and besieged Yin. They assembled with Cao Ren’s army when he arrived and together destroyed Yin.

Xiahou Yuan enjoined Liu Bei in battle at Yangping and there he was killed by Bei. In the third month the King of Wei from Changan went forth to Xiegu, the army furtively skirting the borders of Hanzhong as they passed before it, and soon after arrived at Yangping. Bei repulsed them by sticking to the narrow passes. (111)

111: The Annals of Jiu province state, “At this time the King of Wei wished to leave and issued the order, ‘Chicken rib’, and the officers knew not what he spoke of. The Master of Records Yang Xiu, who was quick-witted, quickly packed his bags and the men became alarmed and asked for an explanation, saying, ‘By what means do you understand this?’ Xiu replied, ‘A man having a chicken rib discards it without regret as no food can be got from it, and so applying this to Hanzhong I know that the King of Wei wishes to leave.’”

In the summer, during the fifth month, he led the army back to Changan.

In the autumn, during the ninth month, the King of Wei took a lady from the Bian clan to be his empress. He dispatched Yu Jin to assist Cao Ren in breaking Guan Yu. In the eighth month the Han river overflowed, flooding Jin’s forces, who drowned, and Yu captured Jin and forthwith encircled Ren. The King of Wei tasked Xu Huang with rescuing him.

In the ninth month the Prime Minister Zhong Yao was punished for Wei Feng’s rebellion by being dismissed from office. (112)

112: The Contemporaneous Records state, “Feng was styled Zijing and was a native of Pei. Through deceit Feng took hold of a throng of able officials and strove to foment rebellion at Ye, and Zhong Yao because of this was sent away. The army did not rebel and Feng went into hiding with his group of followers, and also with the Commandant of the Guards at the Palace of Prolonged Peace and Joy Chen Yi to plot a raid of Ye. Before the time arrived Yi became fearful and informed on him to the Crown Prince, who executed Feng and put others to death, ten in number.” Wang Chang’s Jia Jie states, “Wei Feng was from Jiyin”, but this record says he was from Pei, so the truth is unknown.

In the winter, during the tenth month, the King of Wei’s army returned to Luoyang. (113) Sun Quan dispatched a messenger with a letter to the emperor, proposing that he himself render service by sending forces to attack Guan Yu. The King of Wei from Luoyang sent troops south to attack Yu but they did not arrive before Huang attacked Yu and defeated him. Yu fled and Ren lifted the siege. The King of Wei’s army was at Mo slope. (114)

113: The Record of Cao Man states, “The King of Wei changed the salary for officials working in the office of the Commandant of the Northern Regiment, decreeing it to exceed the former amount.
114: The Summary of Wei states, “Sun Quan submitted a letter offering his obeisance and with praise commented on the will of Heaven. The King of Wei revealed the letter to others, saying, ‘See how this stripling desires that I sit amidst the flames and come to harm!’ The Palace Attendant Chen Qun and the Master of Writing Huan Jie submitted a memorial saying, ‘In the Han Dynasty, from Emperor An to the present, the affairs of government have been removed from the royal princes and the country that was all one has been cut into numerous parts, up to the persons of the present day, where those of fame and reputation each possess a section of land and a people, and none are controlled by Han. Its prescribed period of fortune has come to an end, its specified number of days are finished and it is not in accord with the present day. Accordingly, in the time between Huan and Ling, of all the sage prognosticators every one said, “Han has traveled to its life energy’s end and the school of yellow is simultaneously rising.” Your Highness responded to the times and of the ten divisions of the empire you hold nine. However you use them to serve the affairs of Han when the throngs of people are filled with hopeful expectation (that you would take the throne). Far and near there is bitter lamentation, and for this reason did Sun Quan from afar offer his submission. This is the response of both heaven and men, the different spheres giving their displeasure with one voice. I, your servant, humbly opine that Xia did not modestly turn away from Yu, and that Zhou did not shrink from violently deposing Yin. They were respectful of the heavens’ revealed mandate and none of them took part in refusing it.’” The Annals of the Wei Clan state, “Xiahou Dun spoke to the King of Wei, saying, ‘Throughout the empire everyone is aware that the blessing of Han has come to an end and that another era is rising up in parallel fashion. From antiquity to the present, one who is able to deliver the people from calamity becomes someone the populace will surrender to, and so ascends the people as ruler. Presently, your highness has been engaged in military affairs for thirty years and your virtue and achievements have been made known to the multitudes, such that those within the empire yield and surrender to you. The response of Heaven is in accord with the people, but again you hesitate!’ The King of Wei replied, ‘”If one carries out the taking of the government, one then also becomes the government.” If the heavenly mandate does rest with me then I will be as King Wen of Zhou.’” The Record of Cao Man and the Contemporary Records both say that Huan Jie exhorted the King of Wei to ascend the throne while Xiahou Dun believed it proper to first wipe out Shu, as once Shu was no more then Wu would follow by submitting and the divided rule would be as one. It would then be proper thereafter to follow the precedent of Shun and Yu, and the King of Wei accorded with him. At the time of the King of Wei’s passing Dun came to bitterly hate what he had spoken earlier, and fell ill and died.” Sun Sheng’s commentary states, “Xiahou Dun felt it was humiliating to serve as a Han official and desired to receive the official seal of Wei, while Huan Jie, in contrast with Dun, was possessed of the moral character of steadfastness and loyalty. Examining this shows the account of the Record of Cao Man and of the Contemporary Records to be absurd.”

In the twenty-fifth year, during the spring and in the first month, the King of Wei arrived at Luoyang. Quan struck and beheaded Yu, and sent the King his head.

On the gengzi day (Mar 15, 220) the King of Wei died at Luoyang, at the age of sixty-six. (115) He left behind a decree stating, “The empire has not yet been settled and so it is not yet permissible to follow the ancients. When the burial is complete everyone is to desist from mourning. As such, of the generals and soldiers stationed as garrison men, none are permitted to leave their posts. Those having command over each division are therefore responsible for them. The arrangement of my burial clothes is to be without the placing of any gold, jade or other precious things.” He was posthumously named as King Wu. In the second month, on the dingmao day (Apr 11, 220), he was buried at Gaoling. (116)

115: The Contemporary Records state, “The Great Ancestor from Hanzhong arrived at Luoyang, and had begun construction of a new palace hall. They had cut down and cleared away the grounds for the imperial temple when the trees begin oozing blood.” The Record of Cao Man states, “The King of Wei tasked the craftsman Su Yue with beautifying the area and clearing away the stumps, and upon excavating them the roots were injured and all of them oozed blood. Yue made a report stating this and the King of Wei personally went himself to look and he greatly disliked it. Believing it to be inauspicious he went away and soon thereafter fell fatally ill.”
116: The Book of Wei states, “The Great Ancestor himself unified and defended the lands within the four seas, mowed down the detestable throngs of barbarians, and in his marching of the army and use of his troops he clearly excelled in following the rules of Sun and Wu. For this reason the achievements he carried out were astonishing and with cunning he got the upper hand of his opponents, such was his variability it was as if he were divine. He composed a book of tactics ten thousand characters long and of the various preparations for going on a military campaign, for each he composed a new book dealing with the subject. In attending to achievements he again personally officiated, with those who obeyed his decrees receiving war spoils while those who disobeyed his instruction suffering punishment. When he enjoined the enemy, arrayed face-to-face, he gave the impression of peacefulness, as if he had no desire to fight. However, upon reaching a crucial moment he would strike while he had the chance, such that his momentum was overflowing, and for this reason in every battle he was certain to overcome and of his armies none won victory through mere fortune.. Through examination he knew a man’s ability and it was hardly possible to blind him by means of falsity. He promoted Yu Jin and Yue Jin from among those who had displayed their ability and selected Zhang Liao and Xu Huang from those who had been defeated and taken captive. In each case they helped bring about order through rendering meritorious service and took a place as generals of renown. Others who were promoted from humble circumstances and ascended to be Governors and Administrators were innumerable. He therefore began the formation of the great undertaking, enacted through civil and military action combined. Though he commanded the army for thirty years he did not give up books and during the day he studied military strategy, while at night he contemplated the classics. When he ascended some lofty height that called for verse he would thereupon compose an original poem and accompany it with flute and strings, such that each one became a finished musical piece. He had skill and strength surpassing other men, being skillful at shooting birds in flight and by himself defeating fierce beasts. Once, at Nanpi he shot down sixty-three ringed pheasants. When palaces were constructed or renovations were made to tools and implements, there were none for which he did not act to set the regulations and in every case they were completed in accord with his intentions. He had a refined nature of frugality and was not fond of opalescence, his concubines’ clothes were not fancily embroidered and his Palace Attendants’ shoes were not of two colors of silk. His bed-curtain was a folding screen, when it became worn he would patch it up with stitches, and the mattress-cover he used to keep warm was without lace trim. When he assaulted a city wall and captured the city he obtained objects of resplendent beauty, and as a rule he used them to reward achievement. For those who rendered meritorious service deserving of reward he was not stingy with wealth, but to those without merit who hoped for reward no share was given. From everywhere gifts were presented to him and he passed them down to his crowd of men to share in them. Of the frequently used practices of making burials he judged the numbers of grave items to be exorbitant and to no benefit, with the vulgar persisting in this to excess. For this reason he in advance commanded that his own funeral vestments were to be four small containers’ worth and no more.” The Fuzi states, “The Great Ancestor felt the overreaching extravagance of marriages were a hardship and so when he married his daughters off to a man, in every case they used a black canopy and furthermore used no more than ten servants.” Zhang Hua’s Record of Natural Science states, “In Han times, Cui Yuan of Anping, Yuan’s son Shi, Zhang Zhi of Hongnong and Zhi’s brother Chang were equally skilled at ‘grass style’ calligraphy and the Great Ancestor was inferior to them. Huan Tan and Cai Yong were skilled at music, and Feng Yishan’s son Dao, Wang Jiuzhen and Guo Kai were similarly skilled at Weiqi (“Go”) and the Great Ancestor was in all cases of equal ability with them. Additionally his temperament conformed to lawfulness and he also understood the principles of medicine, attracting scholars of medicine such as Zuo Ci from Lujiang, Hua Tuo from Jiao commandery, Gan Shi from Ganling and Jian Xi from Yangcheng. Furthermore, he was in the habit of eating up to one chi of kudzu and obtained youthfulness by much drinking of tainted wine.” The Fuzi states, “Of the nobles and lords during the last stages of Han, many did away with subservience to the monarch and accordingly their clothing became elegant. Therefore Yuan Shao and Cui Jun followed suit and, though serving as generals and commanders, in all cases wore fine silken clothing. The Great Ancestor of Wei, because the empire was barren and desolate, and capital and goods were lacking, emulated the leather caps of the ancients, and he felt a reduction in fine silks to be appropriate. He conformed to unsophisticated appearance at all times and it was according to quality that he distinguished between high and low, for it may well be said that it is a soldier’s discipline, and not the outward appearance of a state, that gets things done in the current day.” The Record of Cao Man states, “The Great Ancestor was a carefree and amiable person lacking in severity and he enjoyed music, keeping musicians and performers close by, and frequently would employ them from sunup to sundown. He wore clothing of light silk and on his own person he wore a small belt pouch that he used for holding his handkerchief and small items, and on occasion he put on a cap when appearing before guests. Often he would join people in discussion and tease them by means of poems read aloud. He gave it his all without concealing anything until he was so joyous and mirthful that he was in convulsions, even up to the point of his hat falling off and his cup falling onto the table, and when eating meat dishes in every case he soiled his hat. His frivolity and lightness were thus. However, his wielding of the law was stern and severe, as if any of his generals were persons who reckoned themselves as surpassing him then he accorded with the law and executed them, to the point that of old friends and old enemies in either case there were none left. For such persons being punished by death he would always face them with head lowered and tearful lamentation for them, but in the end none were spared. Earlier, when Yuan Zhong was Chancellor of Pei state it was his desire to use the law to rein in the Great Ancestor. Additionally Huan Shao of Pei state belittled him and when they were in Yan province Bian Rang of Chenliu spoke his opinion that they should oppress the Great Ancestor, so the Great Ancestor killed Rang and executed his family. Zhong and Shao both took refuge in Jiao province and the Great Ancestor immediately tasked the Grand Administrator Shi Xie with totally eradicating them. Huan Shao was captured and brought forth as the leader, kowtowing and apologizing before the imperial court, but the Great Ancestor said, ‘To kneel is fitting for the death of a wicked man!’ and straightway executed him. Once he had led out the army and was passing by a field of grain. He gave an order, saying, ‘The soldiers are not to damage the grain, violators will be executed.’ The cavalrymen all got down from their horses so as to restrain them from going over to the grain, whereupon the Great Ancestor’s horse went galloping into it so he had the Master of Records come talk over his infraction. The Master of Records answered him according to the meaning found in the Spring and Autumn Annals, that a punishment is not to be imposed upon a superior. The Great Ancestor said, ‘I have laid out the law and myself have transgressed it, but how is a commander to submit? It is true that I act as commander of the army and cannot commit suicide, so I ask for myself to be punished.’ For this reason his assistants used a sword to shear off his hair so that it fell to the earth. Once there was a concubine who routinely served him as he rested during the day, and he laid his head on his pillow to sleep and spoke to her, saying, ‘In a short while come wake me up.’ The concubine, seeing the Great Ancestor was sleeping peacefully did not wake him, and when he himself awoke he struck and killed her with a staff. He frequently went on campaign against bandits and the government grain stores were deficient, so he secretly went to the supply master and said, ‘What is to be done?’ The supply master answered, ‘We can use the fewest hu of grain needed.’ The Great Ancestor replied, ‘Perfect.’ Afterward those within the army were saying that the Great Ancestor was deceiving the men, so he spoke to the supply master, saying, ‘I single you out to act as a pretext for me and be killed to satiate the men, lest the enterprise fall apart.’ He thereupon beheaded him and, taking the head and exposing it in public, said, ‘He dispensed few hu of grain and stole from the government granary, so I beheaded him at the army gates.’ Such did he cruelly and viciously deceive and in all things he behaved the same as this.

Appraisal: At the end of Han the empire was in great disorder, heroes assembled and rose up, but Yuan Shao like a tiger had eyes for four provinces and there were none that could match his strength and vigor. The Great Ancestor devised a stratagem for castigating the empire and to take hold and demonstrate the laws and standards of Shang, and the breadth of Han and Bai’s exceptional plans. To officials he dispensed property to each according to his ability and with uprightness and kindly feeling he made appointments, forgetting old grievances. In the end he was able to govern and control the imperial bureaucracy, and of those capable of accomplishing grand enterprises, only his brilliant plans were of the highest excellence. At the least it may well be said that he was not a man of ordinary nature and that he was the most outstanding person of his time.

Copyright © 2006 Adrian Loder. All Rights Reserved.
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s Commentary