Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

bhchao

The genius of Zhuge Liang

Recommended Posts

bhchao

Here is an interesting story I found about Zhuge Liang outsmarting Zhou Yu. I wanted to post the link to the website, but that website would be considered "tabxx" in China. I realized what kind of website it was when after reading this story, at the bottom were some rhetorical statements made against an individual in the present day leadership. (You know what I mean)

So I cut and pasted just the factual historical segment dating from the Three Kingdoms period.

"The tale of “Zhuge Liang Thrice Enraged Zhou Yu” is a well-known story in China. After the quelling of the Yellow Turbans uprising in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD), local warlords sprang up everywhere in a struggle for control over the country. Cao Cao who defeated his archrival Yuan Shao and gained full control of the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River stood out as the strongest. But to the south of the Yangtze River, Sun Quan and Liu Bei occupied the eastern and western areas, respectively, and were much weaker initially. After Cao Cao unified the region north of the Yellow River, he pushed his army across the river and launched an assault on southern regimes. Acting under the suggestion of Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei’s advisor, the forces of Liu Bei and Sun Quan formed a united front against Cao Cao. Zhou Yu was the chief military commander of Sun Quan, a position he had held since the age of 24. He was handsome and talented. His wife was considered a great beauty. He excelled in both the civil and military arenas. At the age of 34, he commanded the joint forces of Liu Bei and Sun Quan and won an overwhelming victory against Cao Cao in Chibi Battle (near present Puyin in Hubei Province), even though Cao Cao’s army outnumbered their army by nearly 10 to 1.

Unfortunately Zhou Yu had tragic character flaws: he was prone to frequent temper tantrums. He was also overly competitive, narrow-minded, conceited, and frivolous. He became intensely jealous of the talents and wisdom of Zhuge Liang (Liu Bei’s advisor ) and considered him his number 1 enemy. Instead of trying to learn from Zhuge Liang, Zhou Yu was always looking for a chance to eliminate him. Zhuge Liang was a much better person. He was generous, forgiving, modest, prudent, diligent in learning, and farsighted. He was content to work behind the scene and let Zhou Yu enjoy the limelight during the battle of Chibi. But Zhou Yu kept backing him into the corner, and kept trying to kill him. Zhuge Liang was left with no choice but to defend himself.

After the great win at the Battle of Chibi, Sun Quan and Liu Bei both had their eyes on Jingzhou, a crucial military base occupied by Cao Cao’s army. Zhou Yu was conceited and believed that he could take Jingzhou with ease. But he was seriously wounded by a poisonous arrow in the ensuing battle. It took several ferocious battles before he finally managed to score a victory against Cao Ren, the military commander of Jingzhou. In the meantime, Zhuge Liang forged a military order in Cao Cao’s name. His general, Zhang Fei, was able to use it to waltz his way into Jingzhou and took Jingzhou effortlessly. Zhou Yu was so furious that he screamed very loudly, which caused the arrow wound that had just healed to burst open. This was the first enragement of Zhou Yu.

The second enragement of Zhou Yu happened when Zhou Yu had Sun Quan ask Liu Bei to marry Sun Quan’s baby sister. Zhou Yu never intended the marriage to take place. It was just a ruse to bring Liu Bei to the kingdom of Wu so Zhou Yu could assassinate him. But Zhuge Liang saw through Zhou Yu’s ploy easily. Under his direction, Liu Bei quickly married Sun Quan’s baby sister and then the two of them fled back to Su (today’s Sichuan province), Liu Bei’s power base. Zhou Yu tried to catch Liu Bei before Liu Bei arrived in Shu, but he was defeated by Liu Bei’s army that Zhuge Liang had stationed there ahead of the time. Zhou Yu ended up watching Liu Bei’s boat sailing away. He was enraged. Meanwhile, Zhuge Liang arranged for the soldiers on the boat to shout in unison: “The brilliant scheme of General Zhou Yu to conquer China ends up in the loss of both the Lady of Sun and the lives of Sun’s troops!” This made Zhou Yu even madder. He screamed loudly and collapsed on his boat. This was the second enragement of Zhou Yu.

The third one happened when Zhou Yu planned to conquer Jingzhou by pretending to invade Western Su. But Zhuge Liang saw through the scheme, and exposed the ruse. Zhou Yu could not bear the humiliation. He roared desperately and died soon afterwards. Just before he died, he lamented: “O God, since you have created Zhou Yu, why did you also create Zhuge Liang?” His last words revealed his absolute jealousy of Zhuge Liang even at the end of his life. He would only be satisfied with being the very best and would never be happy with being second best!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

skylee
Unfortunately Zhou Yu had tragic character flaws: he was prone to frequent temper tantrums. He was also overly competitive, narrow-minded, conceited, and frivolous.
Zhuge Liang was a much better person. He was generous, forgiving, modest, prudent, diligent in learning, and farsighted.

As if the writer knew them personally. 都中了羅貫中的毒了。 :wink:

Read the full story in 三國演義 (English version) ->

Chapter 51 "曹仁大戰東吳兵 孔明一氣周公瑾" (Cao Ren Withstands The South Land; Zhuge Liang Angers Zhou Yu.)

Chapter 55 "玄德智激孫夫人 孔明二氣周公瑾" (Liu Bei Rouses The Spirit Of Lady Sun; Zhuge Liang A Second Time Angers Zhou Yu.)

Chapter 56 "曹操大宴銅雀臺 孔明三氣周公瑾" (Cao Cao Feasts In The Bronze Bird Tower; Zhuge Liang Provokes Zhou Yu A Third Time.).

“The brilliant scheme of General Zhou Yu to conquer China ends up in the loss of both the Lady of Sun and the lives of Sun’s troops!”

-> 賠了夫人又折兵

“O God, since you have created Zhou Yu, why did you also create Zhuge Liang?”

-> 即生瑜,何生亮

And isn't his name beautiful - 公瑾, 瑜. It seems that he had all the good qualities like a piece of beautiful jade. But the stone had a crack. And IMHO it was bad luck/fate rather than his character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao

I wonder how much of 三國演義 is fact and how much is fiction. There were wonderful stories of Zhuge Liang's brilliance.

For example, Sima Yi had over a hundred thousand troops embarking on a city. Zhuge Liang had less than 1,500 troops under his command. Zhuge Liang ordered the city gates to be thrown wide open and had an old man sweeping the empty streets to give Sima Yi the fake impression that it was a trap. Sima Yi didn't know what to do and knowing Zhuge Liang's tactical genius, could not determine whether it was a trap or not. By the time he did decide to attack, reinforcements for Zhuge Liang had already arrived.

I do not know whether this story is really true or fiction made up by 羅貫中.

Another story has Zhuge Liang in a military campaign against the kingdom of Wei. He had all of his boats covered with straw paddings. When the Wei forces shot tons of arrows at the boats, the arrows remained lodged in the straw paddings undamaged. The Shu forces took the arrows and shot them back at the enemy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee

I did not mean that 羅貫中 made up the stories. It is just that he gave these historical figures such characters, led the readers to think who was good/smarter (孔明), and who was less good/smart (公瑾); which side we should support (Shu - a distant branch of the Han royal family), and which side we should not (Wei and Wu - 亂臣賊子).

And everything has mingled so much that it is hard to tell truth from fiction (without serious study, that is).

The novel was written in the 16th century. Would it be safer to assume that stories about the three kindoms period recorded before the 16th century had not been affected by the novel?

Sometimes I even wonder how much 藝術渲染 there is in 史記.

But I know very little about these things. Just wanted to post a reply so this thread would look less lonely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cutty

I have read so many times about <sanguo yan yi>, you can see that in the book, it's great favor of Shu, and the author likes Zhegeliang and Zhaoyun the most.

From <Sanguo zhi>, which is about a book about history of Sanguo period, Zhuge and Zhao yun are not as good as it described in the novel. But who cares, I'm not a historian, I just like the stories in <sanguo yan yi>. Besides what you had above, there are also:

Zhuge Liang Disputes With The Southern Scholars, Zhuge Liang 7 times capture and 7 times release Meng Huo.

I do think you should try to hear the Pingshu(评书) or see the TV series.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
studentyoung
For example, Sima Yi had over a hundred thousand troops embarking on a city. Zhuge Liang had less than 1,500 troops under his command. Zhuge Liang ordered the city gates to be thrown wide open and had an old man sweeping the empty streets to give Sima Yi the fake impression that it was a trap. Sima Yi didn't know what to do and knowing Zhuge Liang's tactical genius, could not determine whether it was a trap or not. By the time he did decide to attack, reinforcements for Zhuge Liang had already arrived.

I do not know whether this story is really true or fiction made up by 羅貫中.

Hmm??? Why so bother with “true” or “false”? Don’t you think the story itself is the perfect example to explain one of the famous principles in strategics, i.e. “实者虚之,虚者实之 The true is usually disguised as the false, vice versa. ”

(Note: “实者虚之,虚者实之” is from “Art of War by Sunzi ”《孙子兵法》.)

Another story has Zhuge Liang in a military campaign against the kingdom of Wei. He had all of his boats covered with straw paddings. When the Wei forces shot tons of arrows at the boats, the arrows remained lodged in the straw paddings undamaged. The Shu forces took the arrows and shot them back at the enemy.

You explanation is quite clear, except for one word confusing me,“The Shu forces” ??????

http://www.threekingdoms.com/chapter.php?c=46

Using Strategy, Zhuge Liang Borrows Arrows;

Joining A Ruse, Huang Gai Accepts Punishment.

“One cannot be a leader without knowing the workings of heaven and the ways of earth. One must understand the secret gates and the interdependence of the elements, the mysteries of tactics and the value of forces. It is but an ordinary talent. I calculated three days ago that there would be a fog today, and so I set the limit at three days.”

By “Three Kingdoms”

Just add some other supplement here. According to Zhuge Liang’s background, i.e. he was once a farmer for a long time, he must have learned some skills to predict weather from some experienced farmers to arrange his agricultural work. Then he practiced the skills in wars to enhance the power of the troops.

By the way, according to the examples you offered, it seems that you quite appreciate the trick named “疑兵之计deceptive forces” usually applied by Zhuge Liang. :mrgreen:

Cheers

__________________________________________________________________________

“三顾频烦天下计,两朝开济老臣心。” 唐·杜甫《蜀相》

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee

the Shu forces = 蜀軍

the Wei forces = 魏軍

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Outofin

《三国演义》留下了不可磨灭的家喻户晓的三个人物形象。曹操,关羽,和诸葛亮。我对演义比对历史更感兴趣。但读一读诸葛亮的《出师表》,他的为人和演义中的形象是相当一致的。

“先帝虑汉、贼不两立,王业不偏安,故托臣以讨贼也。以先帝之明,量臣之才,故知臣伐贼,才弱敌强也。然不伐贼,王业亦亡。惟坐而待亡,孰与伐之?”

好一个汉丞相啊!但也不免长叹。“夫难平者,事也!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
woodcutter

Most of Zhuge Liang's cunning plans, such as winning arrows in the fog, are dependent on supernatural knowledge. We can therefore safely assume they are ficticious.

Also, have you ever noticed how many useless expeditions he launched northwards to reunite the empire? What happened to the supernatural brilliance on all those occasions?

I suspect Cao Cao was wiser than him, in reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee
《三国演义》留下了不可磨灭的家喻户晓的三个人物形象。曹操,关羽,和诸葛亮。我对演义比对历史更感兴趣。但读一读诸葛亮的《出师表》,他的为人和演义中的形象是相当一致的。

《出師表》was in the curriculum when I was in middle school. Thanks to that, I've learnt so many good phrases/idioms such as "危急存亡之秋", "妄自菲薄,引喻失義", "苟全性命於亂世,不求聞達於諸侯", etc. 誠然終生受益。

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Outofin
Also' date=' have you ever noticed how many useless expeditions he launched northwards to reunite the empire? What happened to the supernatural brilliance on all those occasions?

[/quote']

That's exactly what I said about in the previous post. In 出师表, Zhuge Liang's original work in the history, he said "Liu Bei said Shu and Wei could not co-exist. He asked me to restore the dynansty. He must know we could hardly succeed for we're so weak compared to Wei. But if we don't attack, they will prevail. If we wait here for death, why not actively attack them?" Forgive my lousy translation. I feel shameful that I can't present the grandness of his work.

Zhuge Liang knew he coudn't achive his dream. He still did it his way anyhow. Isn't the spirit of Han?

Though there are many stories of Zhuge's brilliance, his greatest work was 隆中对. He successfully predicted and implemented a large part of history he lived in. How many people could do that?

Cao Cao was another type of great man. He was equally great as Zhuge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao
By the way, according to the examples you offered, it seems that you quite appreciate the trick named “疑兵之计deceptive forces” usually applied by Zhuge Liang.

空城計 and 草船借箭 are my favorites.

There is another story of how Zhuge Liang obliterated the 南蠻 army from Burma during one of his southern campaigns. He lured the army through a valley and once the army was stuck in the valley, destroyed it with fire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
woodcutter

Zhuge Liang attacked on numerous occasions, failed, and in the end Shu was crushed. So all the death and destruction of his numerous missions was perfectly futile.

Furthermore, if he knew that under the Han reunification was impossible, would not the patriotic thing be to let the north reunite the kingdom?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian_Lee

How come everyone is just focusing on the military skill of Zhuge Liang?

Mr. Zhuge was much more than that. He was a financial manager, personnel manager, agricultural expert, ethnic minority researcher, Royal Family affair consultant as well as a military strategist.

For his six northern military campaigns, everyone knew it is a no win situation after General Kuan Yu lost the Hubei region. Without a double-spear assualt, the six northern military campaigns were no more than minor harassments to the Wei Kingdom.

But Zhuge was an excellent personnel manager. Remember that the Sichuan bastion was a "stolen" region. But throughout his life, Zhuge could manage well the relationship between the Sichuan clique and the Hubei clique.

And Zhuge was an excellent researcher in ethnic minority issue. He knew that the most important point to subdue those tribes in Yunnan was to turn them from defiance to docile. So that is why he caught and released the tribal chief for seven times.

The only problem with Zhuge is that like any other great talent, he overworked, hesitated to delegate authority and didn't nurture enough competent successors.

Moreover, Zhuge assumed that he would not die young. But too bad he was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
woodcutter

Did he really release the chief seven times? We all know, I hope, that the "romance of the three knigdoms" if a bundle of myths woven around a kernel of history. The English translation on general sale in China reminds us in the introduction that Cao Cao has not always been regarded as the villain of the piece. So let's guess what is probably true, and is not.

Probably True

There was a very distant relative of the Emporer named Liu Bei. He fought for power, invoking imperial connections, and usurped the throne of Shu.

His strategist, Zhuge Liang, launched endless wars against the North and the "barbarians". These were not all that successful.

Cao Cao, a Northern warlord, was a rather cultivated man.

Probably False

Liu Bei had some incredibly honorable buddies he met in a peach garden.

He found his well-connected strategist in an isolated cottage.(no internet then!)

This strategist could magically foretell weather conditions.

This strategist let a captured and defeated opponent of the hook six times, and managed to hold a city by nonchalantly strumming his guitar at the gates. (Strategists - Do not try these at home!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ian_Lee

Woodcutter:

Cao Cao was portrayed as a bad guy only after Qing Dynasty when the Qing Emperors deliberately and politically manipulated the Three Kingdom period history.

Cao Cao received quite positive comments in the subsequent dynasties right after Three Kingdoms.

According to the "Three Kingdoms Chronicle" -- the history of the Three Kingdom period compiled by Jin Dynasty officials, Zhuge Liang received a 70/30 evaluation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee
Probably False

Liu Bei had some incredibly honorable buddies he met in a peach garden.

He found his well-connected strategist in an isolated cottage.(no internet then!)

Don't know if the peach garden is true' date=' but I think the isolated cottage thing is not false. Zhuge wrote this in《出師表》-> "先帝不以臣卑鄙,猥自枉屈,[b']三顧臣於草廬之中[/b]".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Outofin

Cao Cao was a great politician, military genius, as well as a talented poet. 观沧海 and 短歌行 might be his most famous poems.

            短歌行

    对酒当歌,人生几何?譬如朝露,去日苦多。

    慨当以慷,幽思难忘。何以解忧?唯有杜康。

    青青子衿,悠悠我心。但为君故,沉吟至今。

    呦呦鹿鸣,食野之苹。我有嘉宾,鼓瑟吹笙。

    明明如月,何时可掇?忧从中来,不可断绝。

    越陌度阡,枉用相存。契阔谈宴,心念旧恩。

    月明星稀,乌鹊南飞,绕树三匝,何枝可依?

    山不厌高,海不厌深。周公吐哺,天下归心。

I changed my signature to this poem. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah-Bin

If you believe eveything in 三國演藝 then Chuge Liang invented primitive landmines to defeat a group of "Southern Barbarians" who had impenetrable but highly flammable armour. Then he invented mantou (or was it baozi?) to throw into a river as a sacrifice to some gos. who thought they were human heads....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao
Did he really release the chief seven times? We all know, I hope, that the "romance of the three knigdoms" if a bundle of myths woven around a kernel of history. The English translation on general sale in China reminds us in the introduction that Cao Cao has not always been regarded as the villain of the piece.

三國演藝 was 羅貫中's personal spin story. Most or Zhuge Liang's tricks featured in the novel probably never happened at all. It would be awesome if 空城計 (the strategy in which Zhuge Liang strummed his guitar at the city gates) really happened. I heard from someone that the trick was employed in some way during the Tang dynasty.

Cao Cao was portrayed as a bad guy only after Qing Dynasty when the Qing Emperors deliberately and politically manipulated the Three Kingdom period history.

I thought Cao Cao was already portrayed as a bad guy by the time of the Ming dynasty (although I could be wrong). The reason why I think so is because the novel was written during the Ming dynasty, and 羅貫中 was pro-Zhuge Liang and anti-Cao Cao. Luo must have been influenced by some historical documentation on Cao Cao, or the novel could be just his own independent thinking and attitude.

One of the reasons why Cao Cao was portrayed as a bad guy is because he was perceived as an usurper, having toppled the Eastern Han dynasty. But the dynasty was already defunct by then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...