Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Zhou Tai, styled Youping, was from Xiacai in Jiujiang commandery. Together with Jiang Qin, he served as Sun Ce’s bodyguard, and both men were known for their respectful performance of their duties and their deeds in battle. When Ce entered Kuaiji, Zhou Tai was made Major with a Separate Command, and given troops to command. Sun Quan took a liking to Zhou Tai’s character, and requested for Tai to be transferred to himself.
Once, while Sun Ce was out fighting Shanyue rebels from the six prefectures, Sun Quan was left in Xuan city with less than a thousand guards. Out of negligence, he did not set up defence posts. Several thousand of Shanyue rebels attacked. By the time Sun Quan mounted his horse, the bandits managed to surround him already. Their weapons, hitting here and there, slashed Sun Quan’s saddle, causing great panic all around. Only Zhou Tai, with spirits roused, defended Sun Quan with his body, emboldening those near him and making them able to fight again. When the bandits were finally dispersed, Zhou Tai was found with twelve deep wounds, which took a long time to heal. Had Zhou Tai not be there on that day, Sun Quan would have perished. This deed was greatly appreciated by Sun Ce, who added the title of Chief of Chunju Prefecture to Zhou Tai. Some time after that, Zhou Tai followed Sun Ce to attack Wan and Jiangxia, and upon his return he passed by Yuzhang commandery and there he was made Chief of Yichun Prefecture as well. These prefectures generated all the supplies needed by his troops.
Zhou Tai gained merit in the battle against Huang Zu. Later, he defended against Cao Cao along with Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu at Chibi, and attacked Cao Ren at Nanjun. Once Jingzhou was settled, he and his troops were garrisoned at Cen. When Lord Cao’s army launched an assault from Ruxu, Zhou Tai went to meet the attack. Lord Cao retreated, and Zhou Tai was made Controller of Ruxu and General who Pacifies the Caitiffs. At that time, Zhu Ran, Xu Sheng, and some others were located there as well, and did not want to submit to Zhou Tai’s command. Thereupon Sun Quan made a special trip to the Ruxu forts to meet with all the officers there. A great party was held, where Sun Quan personally brought wine to Zhou Tai, and ordered him to remove his outer garments. Sun Quan pointed at each scar, and asked for the story behind it. Zhou Tai responded with his memories of each battle. At the end, Sun Quan had him dressed again, and together they reveled through the night. When the next day came, Sun Quan had a herald grant him his imperial parasol (1). Thus Xu Sheng and company conceded.
After Sun Quan defeated Guan Yu, he planned to invade Shu. He made Zhou Tai Grand Administrator of Hanzhong [in name] and General of Roused Valour. He also conferred the title of Marquis of Lingyang onto Zhou Tai. Zhou Tai died during the Huangwu reign (AD 222-228).
Zhou Tai’s son, Shao, also commanded troops, in the position of Chief Commandant of the Cavalry. He gained merits in battle when Cao Ren attacked from Ruxu, and he also served in Sun Quan’s campaign against Cao Xiu. Thus he was promoted to the rank of major-general. He died in the second year of Huanglong (AD 230). His younger brother, Zhou Cheng, took command of the troops and inherited the marquisate.
(1) From Jiangbiao Zhuan: Sun Qun held his [Zhou Tai’s] arm, and tears crossed his face. He called him by his style name, saying, “Youping, you have fought as brave as a bear and a tiger for us two brothers. Not holding back your own life, you have been wounded in several tens of places, and your skin is as if it’s been etched on. Can I not treat you as one of my brothers, and bestow the powers of command upon you? You have done great service for Wu, and I would stand with you whether in honour and shame, and share with you in joy and sorrow. Youping, be merry. Do not let the fact that you lack pedigree make you back down from your tasks!” And at that he commanded for the imperial silk parasol of blue veils to be bestowed upon Zhou Tai. After all that, he had his mounts prepared to go, and ordered Zhou Tai lead the way out, in the midst of drums and horns. <return>
Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi