Biography (SGZ): Hao Zhao (Bodao)

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Hao Zhao (Bodao)
郝昭 (伯道)
Lifespan Unknown

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Pei Songzhi in Blue, Translator Notes in Green
Translated by Stephen So

Translator’s Introduction: This is a quick translation of Hao Zhao’s sub biography, from the Wei Lue contained in SGZ-Wei: Cao Rui.

Prior to this, [Cao Zhen] sent the general, Hao Zhao, to station in Chencang city. When Zhuge Liang came and surrounded the city, he was unable to capture it.

Hao Zhao, styled Bodao, was a man from Taiyuan and he was heroic and strong. When he was young, he entered the army as a commander of a division (buqu du) and had many military accomplishments. He was made General of Miscellaneous Title (zahao jiangjun) and was stationed in Hexi for ten or so years. The common people as well as foreign tribes were in awe of him. Zhuge Liang surrounded Chencang, sending a man from the same county as Hao Zhao, Jin Xiang, who outside the walls of the city, called out to try and persuade him to surrender. Hao Zhao answered him, “You are well acquainted with the laws of the House of Wei, and you know very well what kind of man I am. I have received much grace from the state and my house is important. There is nothing you can say; I have only to die. Return and thank Zhuge Liang for me; he may launch his attack.” (Afang) Jin Xiang relayed those words to Zhuge Liang who later sent Jin Xiang again to persuade Hao Zhao, telling him that his troops were no match so why should he die for nothing. Hao Zhao replied, “My previous words to you are now fixed. My friend, I know you well but my arrows do not.” And so Jin Xiang left.

Zhuge Liang knew his forces consisted of several tens of thousand while he estimated Hao Zhao’s force to consist of a thousand or so. Also, he predicted that reinforcements to Hao Zhao would not arrive in time so he mobilized his troops and attacked Zhao. Using ladders (yunti) and movable towers (chongche), they raided the city. Hao Zhao countered using fire arrows against the ladders which caught fire and burned to death the soldiers climbing them. Hao Zhao also had stones tied up using rope which he used to smash the movable towers. The towers broke.

Zhuge Liang then made wooden frameworks of double cross-pieces (jinglan) which he catapulted inside the walls, and filled up the city moat with earth wishing to scale the walls directly. (1) Hao Zhao countered this by building another wall from the inside.

1: This passage came from Achilles Fang’s “Chronicle of the Three kingdoms”, vol 1, Harvard-Yenching Institute, 1956.

Zhuge Liang then started making tunnels in the hope of coming up inside the city. But Hao Zhao countered this by digging his own tunnels and intercepting Liang’s. Day and night, both continued the fight for twenty-odd days. Running out of ideas and with Wei reinforcements arriving, Zhuge Liang withdrew. Hao Zhao was commended for his excellent defence and was conferred with the noble rank of Marquis (liehou). When he returned, the Emperor led Zhao to see him where he offered him gifts. Turning to his Prefect of the Palace Writer (zhongshuling), Sun Zi, he said, “Sir, your county has produced such an exceptional general, what worries should I have?” So Hao Zhao’s services were used a lot. When he was about to die in sickness, he said to his son, Hao Kai, “I as a general, know what a general should not do. I have opened up many a gravemound, obtaining their wood to be used in making equipment in attacks during battle, and thus I know a grand funeral is of no use to the dead. You are to dress my body in everyday clothes. In life the living has a place of dwelling, in death where do they go? Today going to my grave is far away, north south east and west, it is up to you.” (2)

2: Many thanks to Franz Wong for his help in translating Hao Zhao’s final words.

Copyright © ~2000 Stephen So. All Rights Reserved.
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s Commentary