SGZ Biography of Cao Cao

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Unread postby James » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:18 am

Excellent job! I'm looking forward to the next/final bit! :)
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Unread postby Liu Yuante » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:07 am

This is not an update but a correction to my note about tallies and staves of authority. I stated that 節 jie Staff of Authority is different from the 节 jie in fujie, which are administrative tallies, including tiger tallies. This is wrong, and I apologize for the error. The latter is the simplified character and the former is the traditional. The error occurred because for some reason I felt that de Crespigny uses simplified characters in the index to To Establish Peace. Why I thought this is anyone's guess, but he does not - he uses traditional characters. Nonetheless, this created the impression that there were two simplified characters with different appearance, and I didn't realize the mistake until now.

This also means that a hastily deleted post elsewhere on the forum - wherein I noted that fujie is clearly an administrative tally in general because it is a jie-like fu - a fu with Staff of Authority type powers - was, in fact, correct.

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Unread postby James » Mon Jan 23, 2006 4:38 am

Everyone should get together and come up with a comprehensive definition of the different tallies and symbols of authority. I know some information on KMA for <i>fujie</i> is incorrect and I still haven’t managed to figure all of it out myself. Last I tried I was simply trying to piece together all the information in the <a href="/viewtopic.php?t=2866">old thread on Tiger Tallies</a> here in this forum. If it could all be outlined I would be happy to re-assemble the guide on KMA with any information I could share.
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Unread postby Liu Yuante » Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:30 pm

Sweet God on high it's finally done.


In the twenty-fourth year, during the spring and in the first month, Ren massacred the people of Wan and beheaded Yin. 109

109 The Record of Cao Man states, “At the time those within Nanyang suffered from forced labor and Yin therefore seized the Grand Administrator (Dongli Gun) and with the officials and citizenry he jointly rebelled, forming an alliance with Guan Yu. Nanyang’s distinguished officer Zong Ziqing went to speak persuasively with Yin, saying, ‘You have obeyed the heartfelt feelings of the citizenry and in carrying out this great work, far and near there are none who do not take notice. But the seizure of the commandery’s head officer is contrary and pointless, why not release him? I and my son will uphold you with all our might and then, when Duke Cao’s army comes, Guan Yu’s soldiers will also have arrived.’ Yin obeyed him and straightway set free the Grand Administrator. Ziqing because of this climbed over the city walls and fled outside, and then with the Grand Administrator rounded up the rest of the citizenry and besieged Yin. They assembled with Cao Ren’s army when he arrived and together destroyed Yin.

Xiahou Yuan enjoined Liu Bei in battle at Yangping and there he was killed by Bei. In the third month the King of Wei from Changan went forth to Xiegu, the army furtively skirting the borders of Hanzhong as they passed before it, and soon after arrived at Yangping. Bei repulsed them by sticking to the narrow passes. 110

110 The Annals of Jiu province state, “At this time the King of Wei wished to leave and issued the order, ‘Chicken rib’, and the officers knew not what he spoke of. The Master of Records Yang Xiu, who was quick-witted, quickly packed his bags and the men became alarmed and asked for an explanation, saying, ‘By what means do you understand this?’ Xiu replied, ‘A man having a chicken rib discards it without regret as no food can be got from it, and so applying this to Hanzhong I know that the King of Wei wishes to leave.’”

In the summer, during the fifth month, he led the army back to Changan.

In the autumn, during the ninth month, the King of Wei took a lady from the Bian clan to be his empress. He dispatched Yu Jin to assist Cao Ren in breaking Guan Yu. In the eighth month the Han river overflowed, flooding Jin’s forces, who drowned, and Yu captured Jin and forthwith encircled Ren. The King of Wei tasked Xu Huang with rescuing him.

In the ninth month the Prime Minister Zhong Yao was punished for Wei Feng’s rebellion by being dismissed from office. 111


111 The Contemporaneous Records state, “Feng was styled Zijing and was a native of Pei. Through deceit Feng took hold of a throng of able officials and strove to foment rebellion at Ye, and Zhong Yao because of this was sent away. The army did not rebel and Feng went into hiding with his group of followers, and also with the Commandant of the Guards at the Palace of Prolonged Peace and Joy Chen Yi to plot a raid of Ye. Before the time arrived Yi became fearful and informed on him to the Crown Prince, who executed Feng and put others to death, ten in number.” Wang Chang’s Jia Jie states, “Wei Feng was from Jiyin”, but this record says he was from Pei, so the truth is unknown.

In the winter, during the tenth month, the King of Wei’s army returned to Luoyang. 112 Sun Quan dispatched a messenger with a letter to the emperor, proposing that he himself render service by sending forces to attack Guan Yu. The King of Wei from Luoyang sent troops south to attack Yu but they did not arrive before Huang attacked Yu and defeated him. Yu fled and Ren lifted the siege. The King of Wei’s army was at Mo slope. 113

112 The Record of Cao Man states, “The King of Wei changed the salary for officials working in the office of the Commandant of the Northern Regiment, decreeing it to exceed the former amount.

113 The Summary of Wei states, “Sun Quan submitted a letter offering his obeisance and with praise commented on the will of Heaven. The King of Wei revealed the letter to others, saying, ‘See how this stripling desires that I sit amidst the flames and come to harm!’ The Palace Attendant Chen Qun and the Master of Writing Huan Jie submitted a memorial saying, ‘In the Han Dynasty, from Emperor An to the present, the affairs of government have been removed from the royal princes and the country that was all one has been cut into numerous parts, up to the persons of the present day, where those of fame and reputation each possess a section of land and a people, and none are controlled by Han. Its prescribed period of fortune has come to an end, its specified number of days are finished and it is not in accord with the present day. Accordingly, in the time between Huan and Ling, of all the sage prognosticators every one said, “Han has traveled to its life energy’s end and the school of yellow is simultaneously rising.” Your Highness responded to the times and of the ten divisions of the empire you hold nine. However you use them to serve the affairs of Han when the throngs of people are filled with hopeful expectation (that you would take the throne). Far and near there is bitter lamentation, and for this reason did Sun Quan from afar offer his submission. This is the response of both heaven and men, the different spheres giving their displeasure with one voice. I, your servant, humbly opine that Xia did not modestly turn away from Yu, and that Zhou did not shrink from violently deposing Yin. They were respectful of the heavens’ revealed mandate and none of them took part in refusing it.’” The Annals of the Wei Clan state, “Xiahou Dun spoke to the King of Wei, saying, ‘Throughout the empire everyone is aware that the blessing of Han has come to an end and that another era is rising up in parallel fashion. From antiquity to the present, one who is able to deliver the people from calamity becomes someone the populace will surrender to, and so ascends the people as ruler. Presently, your highness has been engaged in military affairs for thirty years and your virtue and achievements have been made known to the multitudes, such that those within the empire yield and surrender to you. The response of Heaven is in accord with the people, but again you hesitate!’ The King of Wei replied, ‘”If one carries out the taking of the government, one then also becomes the government.” If the heavenly mandate does rest with me then I will be as King Wen of Zhou.’” The Record of Cao Man and the Contemporary Records both say that Huan Jie exhorted the King of Wei to ascend the throne while Xiahou Dun believed it proper to first wipe out Shu, as once Shu was no more then Wu would follow by submitting and the divided rule would be as one. It would then be proper thereafter to follow the precedent of Shun and Yu, and the King of Wei accorded with him. At the time of the King of Wei’s passing Dun came to bitterly hate what he had spoken earlier, and fell ill and died.” Sun Sheng’s commentary states, “Xiahou Dun felt it was humiliating to serve as a Han official and desired to receive the official seal of Wei, while Huan Jie, in contrast with Dun, was possessed of the moral character of steadfastness and loyalty. Examining this shows the account of the Record of Cao Man and of the Contemporary Records to be absurd.”

In the twenty-fifth year, during the spring and in the first month, the King of Wei arrived at Luoyang. Quan struck and beheaded Yu, and sent the King his head.

On the gengzi day (Mar 15, 220) the King of Wei died at Luoyang, at the age of sixty-six. 114 He left behind a decree stating, “The empire has not yet been settled and so it is not yet permissible to follow the ancients. When the burial is complete everyone is to desist from mourning. As such, of the generals and soldiers stationed as garrison men, none are permitted to leave their posts. Those having command over each division are therefore responsible for them. The arrangement of my burial clothes is to be without the placing of any gold, jade or other precious things.” He was posthumously named as King Wu. In the second month, on the dingmao day (Apr 11, 220), he was buried at Gaoling. 115


114 The Contemporary Records state, “The Great Ancestor from Hanzhong arrived at Luoyang, and had begun construction of a new palace hall. They had cut down and cleared away the grounds for the imperial temple when the trees begin oozing blood.” The Record of Cao Man states, “The King of Wei tasked the craftsman Su Yue with beautifying the area and clearing away the stumps, and upon excavating them the roots were injured and all of them oozed blood. Yue made a report stating this and the King of Wei personally went himself to look and he greatly disliked it. Believing it to be inauspicious he went away and soon thereafter fell fatally ill.”

115 The Book of Wei states, “The Great Ancestor himself unified and defended the lands within the four seas, mowed down the detestable throngs of barbarians, and in his marching of the army and use of his troops he clearly excelled in following the rules of Sun and Wu. For this reason the achievements he carried out were astonishing and with cunning he got the upper hand of his opponents, such was his variability it was as if he were divine. He composed a book of tactics ten thousand characters long and of the various preparations for going on a military campaign, for each he composed a new book dealing with the subject. In attending to achievements he again personally officiated, with those who obeyed his decrees receiving war spoils while those who disobeyed his instruction suffering punishment. When he enjoined the enemy, arrayed face-to-face, he gave the impression of peacefulness, as if he had no desire to fight. However, upon reaching a crucial moment he would strike while he had the chance, such that his momentum was overflowing, and for this reason in every battle he was certain to overcome and of his armies none won victory through mere fortune.. Through examination he knew a man’s ability and it was hardly possible to blind him by means of falsity. He promoted Yu Jin and Yue Jin from among those who had displayed their ability and selected Zhang Liao and Xu Huang from those who had been defeated and taken captive. In each case they helped bring about order through rendering meritorious service and took a place as generals of renown. Others who were promoted from humble circumstances and ascended to be Governors and Administrators were innumerable. He therefore began the formation of the great undertaking, enacted through civil and military action combined. Though he commanded the army for thirty years he did not give up books and during the day he studied military strategy, while at night he contemplated the classics. When he ascended some lofty height that called for verse he would thereupon compose an original poem and accompany it with flute and strings, such that each one became a finished musical piece. He had skill and strength surpassing other men, being skillful at shooting birds in flight and by himself defeating fierce beasts. Once, at Nanpi he shot down sixty-three ringed pheasants. When palaces were constructed or renovations were made to tools and implements, there were none for which he did not act to set the regulations and in every case they were completed in accord with his intentions. He had a refined nature of frugality and was not fond of opalescence, his concubines’ clothes were not fancily embroidered and his Palace Attendants’ shoes were not of two colors of silk. His bed-curtain was a folding screen, when it became worn he would patch it up with stitches, and the mattress-cover he used to keep warm was without lace trim. When he assaulted a city wall and captured the city he obtained objects of resplendent beauty, and as a rule he used them to reward achievement. For those who rendered meritorious service deserving of reward he was not stingy with wealth, but to those without merit who hoped for reward no share was given. From everywhere gifts were presented to him and he passed them down to his crowd of men to share in them. Of the frequently used practices of making burials he judged the numbers of grave items to be exorbitant and to no benefit, with the vulgar persisting in this to excess. For this reason he in advance commanded that his own funeral vestments were to be four small containers’ worth and no more.” The Fuzi states, “The Great Ancestor felt the overreaching extravagance of marriages were a hardship and so when he married his daughters off to a man, in every case they used a black canopy and furthermore used no more than ten servants.” Zhang Hua’s Record of Natural Science states, “In Han times, Cui Yuan of Anping, Yuan’s son Shi, Zhang Zhi of Hongnong and Zhi’s brother Chang were equally skilled at ‘grass style’ calligraphy and the Great Ancestor was inferior to them. Huan Tan and Cai Yong were skilled at music, and Feng Yishan’s son Dao, Wang Jiuzhen and Guo Kai were similarly skilled at Weiqi (“Go”) and the Great Ancestor was in all cases of equal ability with them. Additionally his temperament conformed to lawfulness and he also understood the principles of medicine, attracting scholars of medicine such as Zuo Ci from Lujiang, Hua Tuo from Jiao commandery, Gan Shi from Ganling and Jian Xi from Yangcheng. Furthermore, he was in the habit of eating up to one chi of kudzu and obtained youthfulness by much drinking of tainted wine.” The Fuzi states, “Of the nobles and lords during the last stages of Han, many did away with subservience to the monarch and accordingly their clothing became elegant. Therefore Yuan Shao and Cui Jun followed suit and, though serving as generals and commanders, in all cases wore fine silken clothing. The Great Ancestor of Wei, because the empire was barren and desolate, and capital and goods were lacking, emulated the leather caps of the ancients, and he felt a reduction in fine silks to be appropriate. He conformed to unsophisticated appearance at all times and it was according to quality that he distinguished between high and low, for it may well be said that it is a soldier’s discipline, and not the outward appearance of a state, that gets things done in the current day.” The Record of Cao Man states, “The Great Ancestor was a carefree and amiable person lacking in severity and he enjoyed music, keeping musicians and performers close by, and frequently would employ them from sunup to sundown. He wore clothing of light silk and on his own person he wore a small belt pouch that he used for holding his handkerchief and small items, and on occasion he put on a cap when appearing before guests. Often he would join people in discussion and tease them by means of poems read aloud. He gave it his all without concealing anything until he was so joyous and mirthful that he was in convulsions, even up to the point of his hat falling off and his cup falling onto the table, and when eating meat dishes in every case he soiled his hat. His frivolity and lightness were thus. However, his wielding of the law was stern and severe, as if any of his generals were persons who reckoned themselves as surpassing him then he accorded with the law and executed them, to the point that of old friends and old enemies in either case there were none left. For such persons being punished by death he would always face them with head lowered and tearful lamentation for them, but in the end none were spared. Earlier, when Yuan Zhong was Chancellor of Pei state it was his desire to use the law to rein in the Great Ancestor. Additionally Huan Shao of Pei state belittled him and when they were in Yan province Bian Rang of Chenliu spoke his opinion that they should oppress the Great Ancestor, so the Great Ancestor killed Rang and executed his family. Zhong and Shao both took refuge in Jiao province and the Great Ancestor immediately tasked the Grand Administrator Shi Xie with totally eradicating them. Huan Shao was captured and brought forth as the leader, kowtowing and apologizing before the imperial court, but the Great Ancestor said, ‘To kneel is fitting for the death of a wicked man!’ and straightway executed him. Once he had led out the army and was passing by a field of grain. He gave an order, saying, ‘The soldiers are not to damage the grain, violators will be executed.’ The cavalrymen all got down from their horses so as to restrain them from going over to the grain, whereupon the Great Ancestor’s horse went galloping into it so he had the Master of Records come talk over his infraction. The Master of Records answered him according to the meaning found in the Spring and Autumn Annals, that a punishment is not to be imposed upon a superior. The Great Ancestor said, ‘I have laid out the law and myself have transgressed it, but how is a commander to submit? It is true that I act as commander of the army and cannot commit suicide, so I ask for myself to be punished.’ For this reason his assistants used a sword to shear off his hair so that it fell to the earth. Once there was a concubine who routinely served him as he rested during the day, and he laid his head on his pillow to sleep and spoke to her, saying, ‘In a short while come wake me up.’ The concubine, seeing the Great Ancestor was sleeping peacefully did not wake him, and when he himself awoke he struck and killed her with a staff. He frequently went on campaign against bandits and the government grain stores were deficient, so he secretly went to the supply master and said, ‘What is to be done?’ The supply master answered, ‘We can use the fewest hu of grain needed.’ The Great Ancestor replied, ‘Perfect.’ Afterward those within the army were saying that the Great Ancestor was deceiving the men, so he spoke to the supply master, saying, ‘I single you out to act as a pretext for me and be killed to satiate the men, lest the enterprise fall apart.’ He thereupon beheaded him and, taking the head and exposing it in public, said, ‘He dispensed few hu of grain and stole from the government granary, so I beheaded him at the army gates.’ Such did he cruelly and viciously deceive and in all things he behaved the same as this.

Appraisal: At the end of Han the empire was in great disorder, heroes assembled and rose up, but Yuan Shao like a tiger had eyes for four provinces and there were none that could match his strength and vigor. The Great Ancestor devised a stratagem for castigating the empire and to take hold and demonstrate the laws and standards of Shang, and the breadth of Han and Bai’s exceptional plans. To officials he dispensed property to each according to his ability and with uprightness and kindly feeling he made appointments, forgetting old grievances. In the end he was able to govern and control the imperial bureaucracy, and of those capable of accomplishing grand enterprises, only his brilliant plans were of the highest excellence. At the least it may well be said that he was not a man of ordinary nature and that he was the most outstanding person of his time.


And now, if it's quite all right with everyone, I'm going to go collapse somewhere and die.

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Unread postby James » Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:25 am

Wow… it really is absolutely massive.

I’ll put the mess together at some point to help out. It would make it easier to review the contents. And easier to read, which I’m very much looking forward to doing. My hat is off to you for being crazy enough to go right into attacking Cao Cao’s biography.
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Unread postby James » Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:32 am

It took some time, but <a href="http://kongming.net/novel/sgz/caocao-2.php">this biography is now online</a> at Kongming’s Archives. If you don’t care about technical details, or plan to provide feedback on possible errors, read away and enjoy! If you are more interested, continue.

As I mentioned in the KMA update thread, this biography was uploaded using a new biography extension of the <a href="/viewtopic.php?t=14111">Development Project</a>, which is basically in a functional alpha status. The tool has a built in engine designed to recognize things like common book names (e.g. <i>Book of Wei</i>) and measurements (e.g. <i>li</i>) and apply the italics automatically. (It also does the same old tricks of moving things like the AD around to meet KMA house style rules, but all of that is based on an older established engine.) The new stuff, however, hasn’t seen very real-world testing, and is based on some scripts I used to use to upload biographies.

Why is this relevant? If you are reading this biography, and you see text that obviously should have been placed in italics, or more importantly, text which has been placed in italics, but should have been left plain, please report here! Not only will it help to improve the biography’s contents, it will help to improve the engine used to manage this and other biographies in the future. (When everything is said and done, I’ll go through and manually make any adjustments needed.)
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