Biography (SGZ): Pang Tong (Shiyuan)

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Pang Tong (Shiyuan)
龐統 (士元)
Lived: 179–213

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Translator Notes in Green
Translated by Su Mingde

Pang Tong, stylename Shiyuan, was a native of Xiangyang. When he was young, he was very upright yet nobody knew of his talents. Sima Hui of Yingchuan was a man of distinction and could read people like a mirror. Pang Tong went to see him. When he met him, Sima Hui was picking mulberries on top of a tree while Pang Tong was seated below. They talked from day to evening. [Sima] Hui considered him a very unusual person and convinced him to become an official in Nanzhou. [Xi Zuochi’s] Xiangyang Ji says: (I) Zhuge Liang was known as the Sleeping Dragon, Pang Tong was known as the Young Phoenix, and Sima Decao was known as the Water Mirror. These names were given by Pang Degong. Pang Degong was a man from Xiangyang. Each time Kongming went to his house, he made his prostrations at the front of his bed. Degong did not mind this. Decao wished to set Degong as an example. Once, Degong was away crossing the Mian river to worship his ancestors’ tomb. Decao hurried into the room and called Degong’s wife to quickly prepare some food and said “Xu Yuanzhi [Xu Shu] used to say that when guests have arrived, I greet them like Pang Gong”. His wife saluted to each of the guests in the main hall and rushed about serving them. When Degong returned and entered into the room, [everyone was so at home] he did not know who was really the guest. Decao was ten years younger than Degong and so treated him as an elder brother, whom he called ‘Pang Gong’. This led others to believe that ‘Pang Gong’ was Degong’s name, but this was not the case. Degong had a son called Pang Shanmin who also was well-known and married Zhuge Kongming’s elder sister. He worked in Wei as Huangmen Libu Lang and died young. He had a son called Pang Huan stylename Shiwen, who worked in the Taikang era of Jin as a Governor. Pang Tong was a nephew of Degong and was unknown by many when he was young. Degong treated him very well. When he was eighteen, he went to meet with Decao. Decao then said with a sigh, “Degong knows people well, that is such a good thing”.

I: Xiangyang Qijiu Ji, better known as Xiangyang Ji, was a book written by Eastern Jin historian, Xi Zuochi, who also was author of the famous book, Han Jin Chun Qiu. Xi Zuochi was the first historian to argue that legitimacy rested with the Shu-Han kingdom while the Wei kingdom was one of usurpers, thus Han Jin Chun Qiu was written from this perspective. Most of his reasoning was presented in an elaborate memorial which is contained in his Jin Shu biography. Xi Zuochi was a native of Xiangyang.

He later was promoted as the Gong Cao. He was known to be very concerned for the people and the elderly. His achievements even exceeded his talents, thus people were confused. Pang Tong said, “Today, there is much chaos in the world. Good people are few while bad people are many. Those that do not do these good deeds will not be well known. However, those who are not well known but do good deeds are very few. Hence those that do good deeds in order to leave a good name at least have done half a good deed”. The Wu general, Zhou Yu, assisted the First Sovereign (Liu Bei) in taking Jingzhou, hence the First Sovereign recommended Zhou Yu as Governor of Nanjun. After Zhou Yu died, Pang Tong went to Wu to attend the funeral. Many people from Wu knew of Pang Tong’s reputation. He later returned to the West and people who went to see him off were Lu Zhi, Gu Shao, and Quan Cong. Pang Tong said, “Lu Zi (Zhi) is like a worn horse who has the strength to ride away. Gu Zi (Shao) is like a worn ox who can transport for a long distance”. Zhang Bo’s Wu Lu says: Someone asked Pang Tong, “Is Lu Zhi a talented person?” Pang Tong responded, “Even though the horse has energy, it can only serve one person. Even though the ox Pang Tong can travel three hundred miles in a day, there is only one”. Gu Shao heard Pang Tong’s words and asked, “You seem to read us well, how do we compare to you?” Pang Tong responded, “Learning the cultures and reading talent, I cannot compare with you. However, if it was about affairs of Kings and Emperors, then you cannot compare with me”. Quan Zhong replied, “Your fondness of admiring reputation seems like Fan Zizhao of Runan ... Jiang Ji Wan Ji Lun: Xu Zi’s generals, claiming that their demotion was unfair, attached themselves to Fan Zizhao in order to restrict Xu Wenyou. Liu Ye said, “Zizhao was favourable with everyone. He was patient when in retreat, but conscious when advancing”. Jiang Ji responded, “I do not agree. He is not a good as Xu Wenyou”. ... Though with not much intellect, you are good for this time”. Lu Zhi and Gu Shao said to Pang Tong, “If there was peace in the world, we should keep in contact with each other”. Pang Tong replied, “Yes we should keep contact”, and then he left.

The First Sovereign governed Jingzhou and Pang Tong was the magistrate of Leiyang. However, he governed it poorly and later was dismissed. Lu Su wrote a letter to the First Sovereign saying, “Pang Shiyuan’s talent is much more than one who governs a hundred li (miles). He can be a Zhizhong or a Biejia”. Zhuge Liang also advised the same to the First Sovereign. Hence the First Sovereign went to see him and made Pang Tong a Zhizhong. [Yu Pu’s] Jiang Biao Zhuan says: (II) Liu Bei invited Pang Tong to dinner. He asked Pang Tong, “Sir, you were with Zhou Gongjin fighting Cao Cao. When I arrived in Wu, I heard that he secretly advised Sun Zhongmou to trap me there. Since you are working for me now, you need not have to conceal it anymore”. Pang Tong replied, “Yes, it is true”. Liu Bei sighed and said, “That time was desperate so I had to make the request hence I had no choice but to go. I nearly fell into Zhou Yu’s hands! Wise men of the world think alike. Kongming admonished me not to go because he thought the idea of going alone was dangerous. I thought Zhongmou was concerned at guarding the north and would require my assistance and hence I suspected no danger. It seems this plan was a very dangerous one and is not one to be used again.” Pang Tong was second to Zhuge Liang, but both were ranked the same as ‘Jun Shi Zhong Lang Jiang’ (Generals of the Gentleman of the Household Masters of the Army). [Sima Biao’s] Jiuzhou Chunqiu says: (III) Pang Tong said to Liu Bei, “Jingzhou is a poor area after so many years of war. To the east, there is Sun Quan. To the north, there is Cao Cao. It is difficult to establish the tripod. In Yizhou, the people are strong and wealthy with a million in population. The military there can be used and goods and commodities do not need to transported from outside. With this authority, you can accomplish great things”. Liu Bei said, “Cao Cao is different to me like fire and water. Cao Cao is mean, I am generous. Cao Cao is violent, I am kind. Cao Cao is deceitful, I am loyal. Since I am the opposite of Cao Cao in everything, then the affair may be successful. If I take a petty advantage and lose the trust of the world, then I would rather not capture it”. Pang Tong replied, “In times of disorder, one must be adaptable. Furthermore, you will taking over from the weak and attacking the stupid, and what you seize by rebellion you may hold with obedience. Men of the past have always respected this”. So Liu Bei, forthwith, went ahead. (IV) Zhuge Liang was left to guard Jingzhou while Pang Tong followed into Shu.

II: Jiang Biao Zhuan was written by Yu Pu of the third century.
III: Jiuzhou Chunqiu was written by Sima Biao who also wrote Lingling Xianxian Zhuan and co-authored the Hou Han Shu with Fan Ye.
IV: This translation was done by Rafe De Crespigny in To Establish Peace

Imperial Protector of Yizhou, Liu Zhang, met the First Sovereign at Fucheng. Pang Tong offered a plan to the First Sovereign, “When we see Liu Zhang, we can capture him. We can take Yizhou without a single soldier being used”. The First Sovereign replied, “I have only just arrived here and I have not been shown faith or favour yet, so we cannot do that” (V). Liu Zhang returned to Chengdu while the First Sovereign assisted Liu Zhang and led his troops on the expedition against Hanzhong. Pang Tong said, “We should secretly send some soldiers to surprise Chengdu. Liu Zhang is not a fighting man so this will ensure success. This is the top (best) plan. Yang Huai and Gao Pei are Liu Zhang’s top generals and are responsible for defending Baishui Pass. These two people constantly wrote letters to Liu Zhang asking to send you back to Jingzhou. Now say that Jingzhou is in trouble and that you have to return. When you prepare to depart, these two generals, who admire your reputation, will be happy and come to see you off. Then you can arrest them and head for Chengdu. This is the middle plan. Or you can retreat to Baidicheng, then reinforced by the Jingzhou troops, make your way back. This is the bottom (worst) plan. We cannot stay here Pang Tong for long”. The First Sovereign chose the middle plan and executing Yang Huai and Gao Pei, headed for Chengdu. During the assembly in Fucheng, they were celebrating with wine. The First Sovereign said to Pang Tong, “Today’s celebration is a joyous one”. Pang Tong admonished, “To attack someone’s state and say you are happy is not from a righteous army”. The First Sovereign was drunk at the time and was angry, “When Wu Wang was attacking Zhou (VI), he was singing before and dancing afterwards, so was Wu Wang not a righteous person? Sir your words are improper so you should quickly go out!” Pang Tong got up and left. The First Sovereign regretted what he said and invited Pang Tong to come back where he was reinstated. Initially, Pang Tong in spite of what happened drank and ate normally as before. The First Sovereign said, “About our discussion, who was the one who was wrong?” Pang Tong replied, “Both minister and lordPang Tong were wrong”. The First Sovereign laughed and they continued. Xi Zuochi says: A hegemon is a person who must include righteousness as his basis and have confidence and trust. If that person cannot achieve either one, then nothing can be accomplished. Liu Bei took Liu Zhang’s territory in order to rule his domain, but he had lost trust as well as violated virtue and righteousness. Even though the achievement was grand, it seems he has been severely wounded and defeated just like the removal of arms from the body, so what is there to be happy about? Pang Tong knew his lord would eventually understand so in front of the many officials, he put aside his usual modesty and corrected his lord’s faults in a very direct and open way, much like that of Jian E. One who supports his lord and is able to maintain the right Way is a true minister; one who after a victory is not boastful is an understanding person; the true minister is able to support his sovereign to the loftiest grandeur; the understanding person is always looked up to by others. Saying one thing which leads to three times as much good and understanding is a fine example for a hundred generations to follow and it can be said that he has achieved this in general. For one to find a small fault while ignoring previous achievements is foolish which will cut short any further success. A person like that to be able to successfully build up a State, there has never been one before. Your servant Pei Songzhi believes that though the strategy to attack Liu Zhang came from Pang Tong, he realised the plan involved violating righteousness to gain victory, hence he already felt uneasy in his heart. Even though he showed happiness outside, he hid his true emotions inside. After he heard Liu Bei’s words of joy, Pang Tong did not feel himself to be without fault either. But at the time when Liu Bei was drunk, he compared himself to Wu Wang while not feeling ashamed. Hence it was Liu Bei who was not right and Pang Tong who was not wrong in that instance. So when Pang Tong said, “Both minister and lord are wrong”, it does make sense after reading between the lines. Xi Shi’s (Zuochi) discussion is mostly correct, but there are some aspects which do not flow well either.

V: This translation was done by Rafe De Crespigny in To Establish Peace
VI: Liu Bei is referring to Zhou Wu Wang (Martial King of Zhou) attacking Shang Zhou Wang (King Zhou of Shang). Wu Wang and his ancestors were formerly subjects of the Shang dynasty. Zhou Wu Wang, together with his talented commander, Jiang Ziya, attacked Shang Zhou Wang to rid China of tyrannical rule.

After surrounding and attacking Luo county, Pang Tong led his troops in to attack the city and died from a stray arrow at the age of thirty-six. The First Sovereign was in deep sorrow and weeped a lot. He entitled Pang Tong’s father as Yilang and Ganyi Dafu. Zhuge Liang personally came and mourned for Pang Tong. Pang Tong was posthumously entited as Guannei Hou and later Jing Hou. His son, Pang Hong, stylename Jushi, was in conflict with a minister from the Shangshu and was restricted. When he died, he was Governor of Fu. Pang Tong’s brother was Pang Lin. He was Zhizhong of Jingzhou and together with the General Who Supresses the North, Huang Quan, went in the Wu expedition. After being defeated, he followed Huang Quan and surrendered to Wei where he was entitled as Lie Hou. He was later made Governor of Julu. Xiangyang Ji comments: Pang Lin’s wife was from the same prefecture and sister of Xi Jing. Xi Jing at Yang Xi was an advisor. When Cao Gong conquered Jingzhou, Pang Lin and his wife were separated. Pang Lin’s wife, alone, took care of their daughter. Afterwards, Pang Lin followed Huang Quan and surrendered to Wei, where he was reunited with his wife. When Wei Wendi heard of this, he praised Pang Lin for being a faithful husband and sent many gifts to him.

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Copyright © 2002 Su Mingde. All Rights Reserved.
Biography recovered from the 3Kingdoms Frontier
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi