Liu Bei Really The Protagonist?

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Liu Bei Really The Protagonist?

Unread postby Blackrazor » Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:55 am

Hey all.

Just wondering why Liu Bei is normally seen as a virtuous protagonist of the series, and why Luo Guozhang, Mao and others provide mostly a positive view of him and his men? After all, they did things that, had Cao Cao done them, would have been used as an example of villainy... For example : Xuande ate the butchered remains of a mans wife and when he found out, rather than be indignant at the wrongdoing, was full of praise for the man??? And even with his generals : Guan Yu and Zhang Fei both butchered each others respective families (bar a few sisters-in-law) after the Peach Garden Accord in order to remove any ties to any other family other than the 3 Brothers...

And thats just a few examples, there were many others. So why are these facts glossed over or, in the case of the Guan Yu/Zhang Fei murder pact, not even mentioned in SGZ and only known to history because of the fastidiousness of other scholars of the time?

I mean, surely if what Liu Bei wanted was the restoration of the Han and the good of the people, he would have stopped warring once the Wei dynasty restored calm and stability to the North, the very things he set out to do in the first place?
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Unread postby OG Loc » Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:10 pm

I think that Liu Bei originally wanted the Han to be brought back out of the corruption, but after the fall of the Han dynasty and the rise of the three kingdoms, his intentions shifted from "I want the Han to be restored" to "I want to be emperor." He thought that since he was the rightful heir to the throne, that anyone else was unfit to rule. But this is just my opinion and i could be wrong.
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Re: Liu Bei Really The Protagonist?

Unread postby Iain » Fri Jul 08, 2005 7:01 am

Blackrazor wrote:Hey all.

Just wondering why Liu Bei is normally seen as a virtuous protagonist of the series, and why Luo Guozhang, Mao and others provide mostly a positive view of him and his men? After all, they did things that, had Cao Cao done them, would have been used as an example of villainy... For example : Xuande ate the butchered remains of a mans wife and when he found out, rather than be indignant at the wrongdoing, was full of praise for the man???
Actually he was sorrowful if you read 3K here.
ROTK wrote:(Chapter 19)
Liu Bei knew no better and ate his fill. Next day at daylight, just as Liu Bei was leaving, he went to the stables in the rear to get his horse and passing through the kitchen; he saw the dead body of a woman lying on the table. The flesh of one arm had been cut away. Quite startled he asked what this meant, and then he knew what he had eaten the night before. He was deeply sorry at this proof of his host's regard and the tears rained down as he mounted his steed at the gate.
Hardly full of praise there, more shock and sorrow.
Blackrazor wrote:And even with his generals : Guan Yu and Zhang Fei both butchered each others respective families (bar a few sisters-in-law) after the Peach Garden Accord in order to remove any ties to any other family other than the 3 Brothers...
Can you please state where you read this, I cant think I've seen that in SGZ or the 3K novel.
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Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:24 am

The butchering is just a legend, I doubt it is true.

The choatic situation that war brings was the protagnist, not anyone person. All leaders involved where mostly in it for themselves though I'm sure some like Cao Cao, Sun Quan and Liu Bei cared for the people in their own way
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Re: Liu Bei Really The Protagonist?

Unread postby Blackrazor » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:28 am

Iain wrote:
Blackrazor wrote:And even with his generals : Guan Yu and Zhang Fei both butchered each others respective families (bar a few sisters-in-law) after the Peach Garden Accord in order to remove any ties to any other family other than the 3 Brothers...
Can you please state where you read this, I cant think I've seen that in SGZ or the 3K novel.

Its in the Foreign Language Press - Chinese Classics edition of the novel, as a reference footnote to the section dealing with Liu An, Liu Bei and the cannibalism. It reads as follows :

Reference Footnote wrote:In the TS, Xuande wants to take Liu An with him; but Liu An refuses, saying that he must care for his mother. Frightening though it is, this scene shows the readiness of a true brother to sacrifice his family to the cause. In the Shuo chang ci hua collection dating from the 1470's, 'Han Guan Suo zhuan' gives the following historical account of the formation of the brotherhood.
After the three - Guan, Zhang and Liu Bei - had made their vows to Heaven in the temple of Jiang Ziya, Liu Bei said, 'I am without family. You both have old and young to worry about. Your concern might cause a change of heart.' Lord Guan replied : 'I shall join you, elder brother, after i have killed them.' Zhang Fei said : 'How could you kill your own? You kill mine, and i'll kill yours.' 'That is best,' Liu Bei said. The song goes :

Zhang Fei did not wait
with bronze blade firm in hand
he entered his brothers home
and killed the first he met
and then two more, but spared
his sister-in-law, Hu Dingjin.

Hu Dingjin bore Hua Guan Suo, Lord Guan's son. This character appears briefly in chapter 87. See CZL, p.19; also, Gail Oman King, The Story of Hua Guan Suo (Tempe : Center for Asian Studies, Arizona State University, 1989)


As for :
Dong Zhou wrote:The butchering is just a legend, I doubt it is true.

Any reason you hold this view? Is there any more or less evidence for the above claim than any other from the period? Just because Liu Bei is the 'popular' ruler of the SGZ period does not mean neither he nor his Brothers committed atrocities that they deemed necessary :)
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Unread postby Niahak » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:30 am

The "murder pact" is mentioned in the Moss Roberts translation in a translator's note. Apparently some copies of the SGYY have such an event before the Peach Garden Oath. I don't recall ever hearing it as historical in any way, though. The TS is a different version of TK, I believe.

--Edit: Had more here but by the time I finished the post it was already quoted in full.

What Liu Bei wanted (by all appearances, if nothing else) was the restoration of the Han under the control of the Emperor... so he certainly had a motive to keep fighting as long as Cao Cao controlled the court and the Emperor.
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Unread postby Blackrazor » Fri Jul 08, 2005 8:43 am

Niahak wrote:What Liu Bei wanted (by all appearances, if nothing else) was the restoration of the Han under the control of the Emperor... so he certainly had a motive to keep fighting as long as Cao Cao controlled the court and the Emperor.

And after the last of the Han dynasty lineage was eliminated? Why fight on?
Last edited by Blackrazor on Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Niahak » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:06 am

If he had a legitimate claim to be descended from Prince Jing (I believe it was?) and was therefore a member of the ruling clan, he was a relative of the emperor (however distant) and could therefore be an emperor of the Han dynasty, which would be a way of ensuring the Han's survival in some form.

I'm not saying he couldn't have had other motives, too, but that would be the motive if he only wanted to preserve the Han.
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Unread postby Blackrazor » Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:07 am

But surely he realised that the Mandate of Heaven had passed to another? That had been a principle part of Chinese beleif since the beginning of the Zhou dynasty :)
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Unread postby barbarosso » Fri Jul 08, 2005 10:07 am

There are piles of threads on why GuanHoung made Lui his protagonist of his book. I remenber at least two different thread on why, he was> Think the answer we got was that it was because at the time he wrote the book, legends always had Liu as the noble character, and so when writing his book he to work from alot of word of mouth contacts. Not to mention the fact that the novle was later edited by two other people, can't remenber names, look up the other thread if you want their names.
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