Cao Cao vs. Zhuge Liang

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Unread postby Cao Ah Man » Tue Sep 21, 2004 12:53 am

Umm.....isn't this Cao Cao vs. Zhuge Liang...not Cao Cao vs. Tao Qian?
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Unread postby PrimeMinister Bu Zhi » Tue Sep 21, 2004 1:22 am

Yes, but in order to see if Cao Cao is so good, we must view this incident.
I agree with James. Though this is not exactly different then the Cao Cao we know. Killing Yuan Shao's surrendered men. Claiming to bury everyone alive in Shouchun agianst Yuan Shu. Over working his men in pursueing Liu Bei. This fits Cao Cao quite well if you ask me, despite that this is his worst error commited.

(Exar, you seem to defend every action ever done by Cao Cao and Liu Bei[Yiling], no matter that everyone else who studies Tk that I know won't agree, and you can back yourself up just fine. Pretty powerfull accomplishment, just saying)
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Unread postby Uiler » Tue Sep 21, 2004 1:33 am

It wasn't Romance of the Three Kingdoms, I read it in Dr Rafe de Crespigny "Generals of the South" which is a history textbook on the rise of Wu. And no he never says Tao Qian is soft-hearted, only that it is likely he never ordered the attack. He regularly debunks a lot of other Romance only stories in his book (and is a big Wuist and Weist judging from his other books and articles) so I don't see why he would keep this one unless he has found viable historical sources for it. He is of the opinion that it is likely Cao Cao acted out of sheer anger and the attack was a huge mistake. His book is about Wu so he doesn't mention Cao Cao that much, the bits where he mentions Tao Qian are mostly to do with with his animosity to Sun Ce once Sun Ce formally announced his alliance with Yuan Shu leading to the flight of Sun Ce's family from the territory that Tao Qian controlled when Tao Qian moved against them. But about the incident with Cao Cao he writes:

"That summer, Cao Cao had invited his father, the former Grand Commandant Cao Song, to come from Langye commandery to join him in Yan province. Langye was in Xu province, and Cao Song had evidently taken refuge there as the civil war began. As he came westwards, however, with a large and valuable baggage train, he was set upon, robbed and killed by some subordinate officers of Tao Qian's command. It does not appear that Tao Qian had any personal responsibility for the incident, and indeed he appears to have been trying to provide Cao Song with protection. In fury, however, Cao Cao turned his armies against Xu province. He drove Tao Qian to take refuge in Tan city, in the south of present-day Shandong, and he led a campaign of massacre in the north of present-day Jiangsu and Anhui.16"

16 On this incident and the campaign which followed it, see HHS 73/63, 2367, SGZ 8, 249 and PC note 1 quoting Wu shu, and SGZ 1, 10.

"It is possible that Cao Cao intended to use the opportunity to conquer Xu province and add that territory to his own comparatively small holding in Yan. On the other hand, some sources suggest that on this one occasion the normally cynical and unscrupulous Cao Cao was genuinely upset, and certainly the campaign did not turn to his advantage.17 The behaviour of his troops made it impossible for him to effect a peaceful transfer of power in the conquered territories, and in 194, when he returned to the attack, his distraction permitted a group of dissidents to make a rising and seize the greater part of his base in Yan province. Cao Cao was compelled to turn his energies to dealing with Lü Bu, the former lieutenant of Dong Zhuo who was now seeking territory of his own.18 The unfortunate Tao Qian, however, was unable to make use of the respite. He died a few months later, without re-establishing any authority, and for the next several years the administration of Xu province remained unsettled, while the whole province became a scene of petty warfare."

17 On Cao Cao's motives at this time, see Leban, "Ts'ao Ts'ao," 218-222 and 225-227. Many commentators, perhaps influenced by the traditional distrust of Cao Cao, have argued that his only intention was to take Tao Qian's territory, and filial piety was nothing but an excuse. Apart from Cao Cao's personal feelings, however, even at a political level the display of fury may have seemed appropriate and necessary: such an ostentatious vendetta against Tao Qian gave public expression to the seriousness with which a gentleman of the time should regard any injury to his family. 18 Biographies of Lü Bu are in SGZ 7, 219-21, and HHS 75/65, 2444-52. Lü Bu had been one of Dong Zhuo's chief military commanders (Chapter 2) and he became one of his closest associates. In 192, however, he was persuaded to turn against his master, and he assassinated Dong Zhuo. He and his party, however, were not able to maintain their position in Chang'an against the opposition of Dong Zhuo's former officers, led by Li Jue. Lü Bu was compelled to flee to the east, and most of his colleagues were killed. See ZZTJ 60, 1933-39; de Crespigny, Establish Peace, 93-103.

James wrote:
Exar Kun wrote:
Uiler wrote:From what I read in history books, Tao Qian didn't knowingly kill Cao Song. In fact he wanted to offer Cao Song his protection but some of his subordinates decided that the rich baggage train that Cao Song had was ripe for the pickings.

Sanguo yanyi, the source of this information, is no history book. What really happened was simply an enemy taking a stab at another enemy, both parties doing exactly what they wished to do. Tao Qian was no soft-hearted benevolent ruler as the Sanguo yanyi makes him out to be either.
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Unread postby Separation Anxiety » Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:04 am

PrimeMinister Bu Zhi wrote:Killing the population is tyrany. Cao Cao of course deserves credit for winning unlike tyrants such as Hitler who slaughter the populance. I really don't care about morality. If everyone loved Cao for killing Xu people, then I love him to. I care about the strategic value of things. Brutality such as this can be avoided in most cases and this is one of them.


tyr·an·ny ( P ) n. pl. tyr·an·nies
A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power.
The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.

Tyranny does not mean killing the population. And it can be avoided, Cao used this as a tactic, and vengence. He wanted to exact his revenge. I would not accepted troops who just fought against me.
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Unread postby James » Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:18 am

Uiler wrote:It wasn't Romance of the Three Kingdoms, I read it in Dr Rafe de Crespigny "Generals of the South" which is a history textbook on the rise of Wu. And no he never says Tao Qian is soft-hearted, only that it is likely he never ordered the attack. He regularly debunks a lot of other Romance only stories in his book (and is a big Wuist and Weist judging from his other books and articles) so I don't see why he would keep this one unless he has found viable historical sources for it. He is of the opinion that it is likely Cao Cao acted out of sheer anger and the attack was a huge mistake. His book is about Wu so he doesn't mention Cao Cao that much, the bits where he mentions Tao Qian are mostly to do with with his animosity to Sun Ce once Sun Ce formally announced his alliance with Yuan Shu leading to the flight of Sun Ce's family from the territory that Tao Qian controlled when Tao Qian moved against them. But about the incident with Cao Cao he writes:

Ah, I am certainly familiar with Dr. De Crespigny's work. This observation on his part, though, seems to include some speculation or educated guesses. I'm sure they are very well founded opinions though, as he does not state matters related to the Three Kingdoms lightly. Given the history behind Tao Qian and Cao Cao, though, I certainly would not put it past Tao Qian to murder Cao Song while presenting a trusting front to Cao Cao only to have the plan backfire. De Crespigny's evaluation of Cao Cao's emotions, however, does hold a reasonable foundation in my mind.

Separation Anxiety wrote:tyr·an·ny ( P ) n. pl. tyr·an·nies
A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power.
The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.

That definition lacks scope. Turn to a better dictionary.

American Heritage wrote:SYLLABICATION: tyr·an·ny
PRONUNCIATION: tr-n
NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. tyr·an·nies
1. A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power. 2. The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler. 3. Absolute power, especially when exercised unjustly or cruelly: “I have sworn . . . eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” (Thomas Jefferson). 4a. Use of absolute power. b. A tyrannical act. 5. Extreme harshness or severity; rigor.

SYLLABICATION: ty·ran·ni·cal
PRONUNCIATION: t-rn-kl, t-
VARIANT FORMS: also ty·ran·nic (-rnk)
ADJECTIVE: 1. Of or relating to a tyrant or tyranny: a tyrannical government. 2. Characteristic of a tyrant or tyranny; despotic and oppressive: a tyrannical supervisor.

SYLLABICATION: ty·rant
PRONUNCIATION: trnt
NOUN: 1. An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions. 2. A ruler who exercises power in a harsh, cruel manner. 3. An oppressive, harsh, arbitrary person.
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Unread postby Separation Anxiety » Tue Sep 21, 2004 4:40 am

James wrote:
Separation Anxiety wrote:tyr·an·ny ( P ) n. pl. tyr·an·nies
A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power.
The office, authority, or jurisdiction of an absolute ruler.

That definition lacks scope. Turn to a better dictionary.
<snip>


I just copied and pasted from a website. Besides, the tyrants of Greece were not all cruel men. They were tyrants because the were dictators. The two go hand in hand. Also my point was solely to say that killing the population wasn't tyranny. Its was cruel yes, but not tyranny. It says that one individual holds all the power. Cao Cao had an abundance of power, but he didn't hold all of it did he.
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Unread postby James » Tue Sep 21, 2004 5:49 am

Separation Anxiety wrote:I just copied and pasted from a website. Besides, the tyrants of Greece were not all cruel men. They were tyrants because the were dictators. The two go hand in hand. Also my point was solely to say that killing the population wasn't tyranny. Its was cruel yes, but not tyranny. It says that one individual holds all the power. Cao Cao had an abundance of power, but he didn't hold all of it did he.

The point is that there are multiple definitions to the word, and that the usage of 'tyrant' thus far in the thread was probably not in the context you took it. Usually, in the modern age, when people say 'tyrant' they are making reference to the later usage, perhaps due to media influences. Let's focus on the debate now.
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Unread postby Exar Kun » Wed Sep 22, 2004 8:18 pm

Ah excellent.I'm delighted you have returned.

Firstly I can find no record of Tao Qiand and Cao Cao being enemies in any way short of any hard feelings Cao Cao may have held towards him for supporting Que Xuan.

As for tactical explanations,you're incorrect in stating that Cao Cao's slaughter happened as he was leaving.That seemed to have been orders going into the entire campaign to completely obliterate the province.Tao Qian's bio records the killings from the very beginning,not simply on his exit.Therefore the massacre could not have simply been a matter of parting spite from Cao Cao as he left.

You're right when you say he did not need to do this to win.Cao Cao obviously had no trouble taking the few counties he did but would the effect have been the same in a conventional war?Tao Qian loses territory temporarily.Cao Cao leaves as he cannot wait to starve out the capital city.Tao Qian then goes back exactly the way he was since he has all the resources he needs to maintain a hold on the province.If his army was a professional army then Cao Cao could remove his capabilities simply by killing them but a peasant army makes every peasant a potential soldier.

James wrote:This is out of character for Cao Cao. Numerous times in his career he has accepted defeat without lashing out at the populace, so why would this instance be an exception? Furthermore, the message sent with this action is much more blatant than ‘I am weak’ or ‘I am strong’. How could a person honestly believe the instance of slaughtering the populace in what, certainly, was deemed by all who were aware of it to be an act of anger and vengeance would come across as a virtue, in terms of strength of anything else? It would only provide fuel to those who wish to oppose him, an indication of tyranny and untrustworthiness, and certainly would do him no favors among the educated populace. I do not see how the true tactical advantage of this action can be argued in Cao Cao’s favor—it was a tactical mistake.


Oh no,I never meant for you to assume that doing this would make Cao Cao seem like a figure of virtue.It's not that at all but rather that he had to attack Tao Qian and win a definitive victory in order to retain face as a warlord.I don't think he would gain virtue points for this action but he would not appear weak or lose face before everyone else.The need to break Tao Qian ties in with what his strategic goals are and what his strategic options are.Thus,destroy Tao Qian by destroying his territory's ability to support him as a military power.
Hindsight shows though that he did not lose favour with the scholarly community due to what happened as he still attracted a wealth of great talent to his flag.
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Re: Cao Cao vs. Zhuge Liang

Unread postby KingOfWei » Sun May 15, 2011 5:31 am

I have to say that from my perspective, Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang were the smartest men in all of China at that time. No other leader could match Cao Cao, neither could any other advisor/strategist match Kongming. Hell, I would put Cao Cao above a few advisors/strategists as well in intelligence. He was just that good. Zhuge Liang? From my point of view? Easily a genius of his era, the smartest advisor/strategist of the 3 Kingdoms era. Imagine if Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang worked together. That would be just complete awesomeness. The talents of the Wei officers led by Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao's brilliance? The land would have been united under Cao Cao's banner in no time.
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Re: Cao Cao vs. Zhuge Liang

Unread postby mrbeate » Sun May 15, 2011 5:35 am

KingOfWei wrote:I have to say that from my perspective, Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang were the smartest men in all of China at that time. No other leader could match Cao Cao, neither could any other advisor/strategist match Kongming. Hell, I would put Cao Cao above a few advisors/strategists as well in intelligence. He was just that good. Zhuge Liang? From my point of view? Easily a genius of his era, the smartest advisor/strategist of the 3 Kingdoms era. Imagine if Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang worked together. That would be just complete awesomeness. The talents of the Wei officers led by Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao's brilliance? The land would have been united under Cao Cao's banner in no time.


Disagree, Kongming was more of a administrator/politician then anything. As a general, talented in managing them, and genius of in the strategy of retreating. Don't think he can change anything for Cao Cao other then more efficient supplying and running internal affairs while Cao Cao was away, even though Cao Cao had many many many talent men to do that already. And that will only happen if Zhuge Liang is able to rise through the ranks and gain the trust of Cao Cao/Pi/Rui.
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