The People Vs. Lu Bu

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The People Vs. Lu Bu

Unread postby Marx!_II » Sun Dec 25, 2005 4:57 am

It is often said that Lu Bu was a mean fellow, a traitor and disloyal, working his mischief on poor Liu Bei. Reading the novel a second time, I can see quite some evidence to support a claim that dear Feng-hsien was not so bad a guy.
Let us examine:

1. He murders Ding Yuan, and goes over to Dong Zhuo.
Now this, I confess, is pretty much inexcusable. His motive appears to be nothing more than desire for more glory, which may fly when jumping from lord to lord, but not from father to father.

2. He murders Dong Zhuo, arousing the ire of Dong's followers.
Many see this as proof of Lu Bu's treachery and stupidity. But remember that Li Jue and Guo Si were meant to be executed, and were without an army at this point. They only managed to retake the capital with men they raised, and such a manuever would be difficult for anyone to predict. As for Lu Bu, it is worth noting that the argument used to sway him was that Dong Zhuo's death was more or less necesarry for the survival of the Han, and his failure to act would be counted as far worse.

3. He serves under Yuan Shao among others, makes his way to Liu Bei, takes his city.
Ah, but only after Zhang Fei, who was against him from the start, began drinking and beat Lu Bu's father in law. Remember that Lu Bu kept Liu Bei's family safe during all this, and forgave Zhang Fei after, while Zhang repayed this by stealing Lu Bu's horses. Lu Bu took it upon himself to save Liu Bei from battle, not on the advice of one of his men, but by his lonesome. It was only after the many quarrels with Zhang that Liu fled, and immediately took up arms against Lu. Who then is the traitor?
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Unread postby Gabriel » Sun Dec 25, 2005 5:34 am

This is my take on things....

Lu Bu killed Ding Yuan. Though he wasn't really Lu Bu's adoptive father it was a bad move. He then killed Dong Zhuo. That is good, and should cancel out the first offense. Then he serves Yuan Shao, but leaves him. He joins with Zhang Yang and is then talked into becoming governor of Yanzhou by Chen Gong. He's eventually defeated and flees to Liu Bei. Later he attacks Liu Bei's city. That's bad considering Liu Bei had given him shelter, but then he saves Liu Bei from Ji Ling. That's good and makes up for his prior offense. In all he made a few mistakes, but then made up for them. So yeah, he really wasn't that bad a guy.
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Unread postby Marx!_II » Mon Dec 26, 2005 4:06 am

And recall that while he, Sun Ce, and Liu Bei were all serving under Ts'ao against Yuan Shu, he made no treacherous moves of any kind.
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Unread postby Zhilong » Tue Dec 27, 2005 5:29 am

1. He murders Ding Yuan, and goes over to Dong Zhuo.
Now this, I confess, is pretty much inexcusable. His motive appears to be nothing more than desire for more glory, which may fly when jumping from lord to lord, but not from father to father.

Many ppl changed lords at least once but what put Lu Bu above the rest is that he would kill his lord as well. This made him worse than ppl like Zhang Song, Fa Zheng etc.

2. He murders Dong Zhuo, arousing the ire of Dong's followers.
Many see this as proof of Lu Bu's treachery and stupidity. But remember that Li Jue and Guo Si were meant to be executed, and were without an army at this point. They only managed to retake the capital with men they raised, and such a manuever would be difficult for anyone to predict. As for Lu Bu, it is worth noting that the argument used to sway him was that Dong Zhuo's death was more or less necesarry for the survival of the Han, and his failure to act would be counted as far worse.

Arousing the ire of Dong's followers was not the main crime here - it was the fact he personally killed his boss again and in the immediate aftermath he made gains. While the removal of Dong was kind of good for the Han, it's difficult to prove that was his main motive and he suddenly found it morally evil to aid him any further.

3. He serves under Yuan Shao among others, makes his way to Liu Bei, takes his city.
Ah, but only after Zhang Fei, who was against him from the start, began drinking and beat Lu Bu's father in law. Remember that Lu Bu kept Liu Bei's family safe during all this, and forgave Zhang Fei after, while Zhang repayed this by stealing Lu Bu's horses. Lu Bu took it upon himself to save Liu Bei from battle, not on the advice of one of his men, but by his lonesome. It was only after the many quarrels with Zhang that Liu fled, and immediately took up arms against Lu. Who then is the traitor?

It is pretty damn obvious that taking Liu Bei's city was not just recourse for Zhang Fei beating his father in law. To even argue so just makes Lu Bu seem like a tard.

At this juncture he had nowhere to go and almost all the lords shunned and or wanted to kill him. Liu Bei gave him shelter. He takes his territory while he is away, that is pretty damn low.

Keeping Liu Bei's family safe? Umm hello he was the danger itself. It's like saying someone who had just robbed you of your company and possessions is morally upstanding guy cos they did not harm your family as well. Besides by not harming them he was able to get Liu Bei to quasi-sserve under him on his return - now that was mean.

Him saving Liu Bei was not a selfless deed. The benefits to him are explained. What made it worse was that he agreed with Yuan Shu to not interfere and took the bribes yet turned around and dishonoured his agreement.

He wronged Liu Bei and Liu Bei later took revenge once he could / when it was practical. I'm not saying Liu Bei never did any dishonourable things in his life but i think he had some just grievance in this case.
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Unread postby Marx!_II » Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:03 am

Zhilong wrote:Many ppl changed lords at least once but what put Lu Bu above the rest is that he would kill his lord as well. This made him worse than ppl like Zhang Song, Fa Zheng etc.

But on par with such men as Wei Yan, Zhong Hui, Cao Cao, among others. I don't argue that the continuation of the act after his death makes it okay, but it's hardly a crime unique to him.

Arousing the ire of Dong's followers was not the main crime here - it was the fact he personally killed his boss again and in the immediate aftermath he made gains. While the removal of Dong was kind of good for the Han, it's difficult to prove that was his main motive and he suddenly found it morally evil to aid him any further.

From chapter 9,
His host smiled. "Your name is Lu, his is Dong. Where was the paternal feeling when he threw the halberd at you?"
The reference here, by Wang Yun, suggests pre-emptive self defense, since Lu Bu and Diao Chan were seen together and, taking with that Diao Chan's story to Dong Zhuo, an affair was if nothing else likely.
Also from chapter 9,
Wang Yun saw the effect of his words and continued, "It would be a loyal deed to restore the House of Han, and history would hand your name down to posterity perpetually fragrant. If you lend your aid to Dong Zhuo you will be a traitor and your name will stink through all the ages.
And again the restoration of Han.
Of the three points of motive for killing Dong Zhuo,
1. The "rescue" of Diao Chan
2. Prevention of any attempt by Dong on his life
3. Restoring the Han
each seems well enough motive on its own to do away with the fellow, combined they say to me that the murder of Dong Zhuo was not even a crime.

As for the immediate gains, look closer. Before the introduction of Diao Chan, Lu Bu had Dong Zhuo's full confidence. He was a bodyguard of the highest order, allowed much license, and was made Marquis. Even while the two quarreled over Diao, Dong Zhuo was of a giving mood. On march to the capital, Dong Zhuo promised him command of the imperial army entire, a weighty station indeed and such a promise was not echoed by the much-relieved emperor Xian. Rewarded for his service? Sure, as well he should have been, as the entire scheme stood or fell based on his participation.
It is pretty damn obvious that taking Liu Bei's city was not just recourse for Zhang Fei beating his father in law. To even argue so just makes Lu Bu seem like a tard.

True he stood to gain from it, yet I cannot see how banishing adrunken Zhang Fei would qualify Lu Bu as a tard. Moreover, he offered to return the city upon Liu Bei's reappearance and forgave Zhang Fei, who I would submit is the only one, if any, worthy of such a moniker in this case.
At this juncture he had nowhere to go and almost all the lords shunned and or wanted to kill him. Liu Bei gave him shelter. He takes his territory while he is away, that is pretty damn low.

Took and offered back and how is that any lower than beating innocent men in a drunken rage?
Keeping Liu Bei's family safe? Umm hello he was the danger itself. It's like saying someone who had just robbed you of your company and possessions is morally upstanding guy cos they did not harm your family as well. Besides by not harming them he was able to get Liu Bei to quasi-sserve under him on his return - now that was mean.

A self-negating danger, as he demonstrated. Besides, I never said 'morally upstanding', only that there is room between that and where people place Lu Bu at present. And yet it seems that such kindness was unequal to the task of gaining Liu Bei's service, since he readily hopped on the Ts'ao wagon once his famil was out of danger.
Him saving Liu Bei was not a selfless deed. The benefits to him are explained. What made it worse was that he agreed with Yuan Shu to not interfere and took the bribes yet turned around and dishonoured his agreement.

He took gifts that were promised to him, then backed Liu Bei on the words of a letter. I regret I cannot find any mention of a prior agreement to remain neutral, the only benefits explained are the rightful graciousness of Liu Bei and the ire of Yuan Shu, powerfully placed and with many men.
He wronged Liu Bei and Liu Bei later took revenge once he could / when it was practical. I'm not saying Liu Bei never did any dishonourable things in his life but i think he had some just grievance in this case.

I would disagree, on count that he could have retaken his city without bloodshed. I think that if had tried well enough he could have coexisted with Lu Bu just fine, but rather he decided not to anger his brother and figured Ts'ao Ts'ao to be a more beneficial ally in the long run. Was he wrong? Neither practically nor particularly in a moral sense, but I do not see it as a good man helplessly fleeing an opportunistic tyrannosaur of a miser as Lu Bu is so often portrayed.
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Unread postby Zhilong » Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:07 am

But on par with such men as Wei Yan, Zhong Hui, Cao Cao, among others. I don't argue that the continuation of the act after his death makes it okay, but it's hardly a crime unique to him.

I agree he is not unique but definitely in the top league.

each seems well enough motive on its own to do away with the fellow, combined they say to me that the murder of Dong Zhuo was not even a crime.

I did not mean crime literally but in terms of the traitorous and disloyal that u mentioned.

1. The "rescue" of Diao Chan
2. Prevention of any attempt by Dong on his life
3. Restoring the Han


How are any of these loyal?
1 After having an affair with his bosses concubine he would now kill him as well as steal his woman.
2 Was there any indication that killing Dong Zhou was the only choice open to him? Were there no other possibilities and was he in immediate danger?
3 His actions soon after spoke for themself. His dedication to the restoration of Han soon disipated when the Dong remnants arrived and he abandoned the emperor. Thereafter he resorted to warlordism.

True he stood to gain from it, yet I cannot see how banishing adrunken Zhang Fei would qualify Lu Bu as a tard.

I was referring to the excuse you mentioned: that Zhang Fei beating Lu Bu's father in law meant taking Liu Bei's territory was even remotely reasonable.

Moreover, he offered to return the city upon Liu Bei's reappearance

Oh please. :lol: He also said that all his life he loathed violence but loved to make peace. :P

Took and offered back and how is that any lower than beating innocent men in a drunken rage?

Zhang Fei beating an innocent man is obviously wrong but not disloyal.
Lu Bu was given shelter when no one else would take him in. He then took his benefactor's territory at the slightest opportunity. Moreover, Lu Bu could have waited till Liu Bei returned an brought the matter to his attention. His actions betray his motives - the minute Chen Gong suggested he take the city he attacked.

Besides, I never said 'morally upstanding', only that there is room between that and where people place Lu Bu at present. And yet it seems that such kindness was unequal to the task of gaining Liu Bei's service, since he readily hopped on the Ts'ao wagon once his famil was out of danger.

1 Lu Bu's ploy did work in the short term. Then he allied with Yuan Shu against Liu Bei before switching sides yet again.
2 Showing minor kindness while also showing great treachery is really not worth mentioning.

He took gifts that were promised to him, then backed Liu Bei on the words of a letter. I regret I cannot find any mention of a prior agreement to remain neutral, the only benefits explained are the rightful graciousness of Liu Bei and the ire of Yuan Shu, powerfully placed and with many men.


From the novel:
Receiving this Lu Bu called in Chen Gong to whom he said, "I have just received gifts from Yuan Shu and a letter, with the intent of restraining me from helping Liu Bei.

He took the gifts and understood the bargain. By taking the gifts and thus consenting he betrayed Liu Bei. Then he realises saving Liu Bei will benefit him more and he betrays Yuan Shu - that was actually quite masterful. :lol:

I would disagree, on count that he could have retaken his city without bloodshed.

Examine the trends in Lu Bu's actions throughout the novel and i think you will agree it is very unlikely that Lu Bu really meant to give him the city back. The stuff that comes out his mouth cannot be trusted either, like his "oh i shall serve u like a son to a father".
"You weaver of mats! You plaiter of straw shoes! You have been smart enough to get possession of a large region and elbow your way into the ranks of the nobles. I was just going to attack you, and now you dare to scheme against me! How I detest you!"
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Unread postby Marx!_II » Wed Dec 28, 2005 5:08 am

Zhilong wrote:

How are any of these loyal?
1 After having an affair with his bosses concubine he would now kill him as well as steal his woman.
2 Was there any indication that killing Dong Zhou was the only choice open to him? Were there no other possibilities and was he in immediate danger?
3 His actions soon after spoke for themself. His dedication to the restoration of Han soon disipated when the Dong remnants arrived and he abandoned the emperor. Thereafter he resorted to warlordism.

All three are plenty loyal to the emperor, I should think.
1. Not quite. More aptly described: After having his fiancee stolen away by an avaricious sadistic traitor, he sought to remove her from such unpleasantness.
2. He could have sung Mozart's requiem from atop the imperial residence and it would have been an option, but it was pretty clear that Dong Zhuo wanted to kill him. Dong's track record would have precluded any real mercy, and his stroke in the court was sufficient to insure that Lu Bu would have had very few places to go. Angering a man like Dong Zhuo is about as immediate as danger could get for him.
3. He made a fight of it, retreating when the situation demanded. You may as well rail against the participants of the anti-Dong coalition for not trying to take as many guards with them rather than retreat and restore teh court in a more sensible fashion.

I was referring to the excuse you mentioned: that Zhang Fei beating Lu Bu's father in law meant taking Liu Bei's territory was even remotely reasonable.

Actually, if we examine the actions as you have advised, it seems that Lu Bu's motive for taking the city was the removal of Zhang Fei, since he most certainly offered it back.

Oh please. :lol: He also said that all his life he loathed violence but loved to make peace. :P

I fail to see how that invalidates the offer. Whether or not he expected it to be taken is irrelevant, do you really think he would have taken it back?

Zhang Fei beating an innocent man is obviously wrong but not disloyal.
Lu Bu was given shelter when no one else would take him in. He then took his benefactor's territory at the slightest opportunity. Moreover, Lu Bu could have waited till Liu Bei returned an brought the matter to his attention. His actions betray his motives - the minute Chen Gong suggested he take the city he attacked.

And the minute he secured the city he saw to the saftey of Liu Bei's family rather than the pursuit and killing of Zhang Fei. And the minute things were made orderly he invited Liu Bei back. And the minute Liu Bei returned, the city was offered up.

1 Lu Bu's ploy did work in the short term. Then he allied with Yuan Shu against Liu Bei before switching sides yet again.
2 Showing minor kindness while also showing great treachery is really not worth mentioning.


1. If you mean that Zhi Ling retreated and Liu Bei was grateful, then yes it did. I recall that the one to switch sides was Liu Bei, when he went to Ts'ao Ts'ao.
2. Treachery to remove an irrational drunk from power temporarily?



From the novel:
Receiving this Lu Bu called in Chen Gong to whom he said, "I have just received gifts from Yuan Shu and a letter, with the intent of restraining me from helping Liu Bei.

He took the gifts and understood the bargain. By taking the gifts and thus consenting he betrayed Liu Bei. Then he realises saving Liu Bei will benefit him more and he betrays Yuan Shu - that was actually quite masterful. :lol:

Or one could look at it from Lu Bu's point, and see the gifts sent as simply payment for what was owed when he and Liu Bei were at odds. That would make he and Yuan Shu even, and would scarcely put Lu Bu at fault for later seeing through the ruse.


Examine the trends in Lu Bu's actions throughout the novel and i think you will agree it is very unlikely that Lu Bu really meant to give him the city back. The stuff that comes out his mouth cannot be trusted either, like his "oh i shall serve u like a son to a father".

I agree fully that Lu Bu was counting on Liu Bei to refuse the city, but supposing he had truly wanted to keep it, why not simply barricade Zhang Fei in and have him killed, then repeat by way of ambush when the other brothers return? Why instead let Zhang Fei go and see to Liu Bei's family? Actions.
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Unread postby Lafeel » Wed Dec 28, 2005 9:03 pm

What invalidated the offer was the fact that Liu Bei, no more than anyone else in China, trusted Lu further than he could throw him, Red hare and all..

Can't say I blame them much..His track record, to me at least, speaks for itself..I wouldn't trust this guy with a dung heap.
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Unread postby Marx!_II » Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:33 pm

I'm afraid I don't quite understand that first bit.
Could you rephrase perhaps?
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Unread postby Gal Jon » Thu Dec 29, 2005 7:50 pm

I dont consider Lu Bu loyal to anyone, after his many abandoments of battles, and betrayals of his masters. However, I never thought of him as a lord, like Cao Cao or Liu Bei. To me his an officer, and I believe thatif he had been taken in by the emporer instead of Dong Zhou he would be a loyal and substantial figure in the protection of the Han dynasty. This is what the Emporer needed, a guard and I personnaly think Lu Bu would have been perfect for the job.
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