Biography (SGZ): Mi Zhu (Zizhong)

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Mi Zhu (Zizhong)
麋竺 (子仲)

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
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Mi Zhu, styled Zizhong, was from Ju in Donghai. For generations his family engaged in commerce, and amassed more than ten thousand servants and retainers, and a fortune measured in hundreds of millions (1).

At some point in time, Governor Tiao Qian of Xuzhou raised him from a commoner to being an Aide-de-Camp. When Tiao Qian died, Mi Zhu followed his last wish and took the First Ruler [Liu Bei] in [as the new governor].

In the first year of Jian’an (AD 196), Lü Bu took advantage of Liu Bei being out at war with Yuan Shu, and sneak attacked Xiapi, taking the First Ruler’s family captive. And so the First Ruler had to turn to go to Haixi in Guangling. At that time, Mi Zhu gave his younger sister in marriage to the First Ruler, and presented two thousand servants and various amounts of gold and money to help support [Liu Bei’s] army. Liu Bei could not have recovered from his losses were it not for Mi Zhu’s help.

Some time after that, the Lord Cao Cao memorialized to have Mi Zhu made Grand Administrator of Yin Commandery (2), and Mi Zhu’s younger brother, Mi Fang, made prefect of Pangcheng. However, both of them declined the positions, but followed the First Ruler around instead. Right before the First Ruler went to take refuge in Jingzhou, he sent Mi Zhu in first to make an introduction to Liu Biao. Mi Zhu was then made Aide to the General of the Left. Once Yizhou was conquered, [Liu Bei] bestowed upon Mi Zhu the title “General of the Peace of Han”, and a rank second only to the General Master of the Army.

Mi Zhu was graceful, poised, and eloquent, but to propose strategy or deal with the affairs of the kingdom was not his specialty. That is why although he was treated with the utmost respect and honor, he was never put in command of anything. Nonetheless, none could compare to the lavish favors that were bestowed on him.

(1) Shoushen Ji: Once, Mi Zhu was coming home from Luoyang, and was several tens of li away from home, when he saw a woman standing by the road asking for a lift. After traveling for some li together, the woman thanked Mi Zhu and said to Zhu before leaving, “I am a messenger from Heaven, sent to burn down the home of Mi Zhu of Dong Hai. Since you have been so kind to give me a lift, I let you know about it.” Mi Zhu then pleaded with her. “I can’t but burn it,” she said. “Alright, why don’t we do this: You sir, speed along home. I will walk slowly there, but at midday the fire shall start.” And so Mi Zhu hurried home, and took his possessions to a safe place. At midday, indeed, the house was set ablaze. <return>

(2) The lord’s memorial is found in the Anthology of Lord Cao as thus: “The border of Taishan Commandery is long and the land is vast, and there has been many bandits. For the time being, the best thing to do is to separate five counties out to make a Ying Commandery, and select an honest and upright man to be guard over it. Now, Lieutenant-General Mi Zhu has been known for being loyal and trustworthy, and he is renowned for both civil and military abilities. I petition to have Mi Zhu take the position of the Grand Administrator of Yin Commandery, so to please the officers and bring peace to the people.” <return>

Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi