Ling Tong's date of death is given as either 217 or 237, where he would be either 27 or 49 years of age. This is a big difference.
Sanguozhi (Chen Shou) puts his death at "he was 49 sui at the time."
We know he was born in about 189, no doubt about it. He was 15 when his father Ling Cao was killed in 203 fighting against Huang Zu, once again, no doubt about it. (If you read the email, Dr. de Crespigny also elaborates on this, stating that if Ling Tong had been older he would have probably already have had his own fighting force.
But we do acknowledge that perhaps there was NOT a write-o (get it? typo? write-o?) in the Sanguozhi. Saying that he died in 217 is depending on the assumption that it was a typo.
Here are the points for saying that he died in 217:
-There is no mention of his activity after 217. Ling Tong was a valued officer and Sun Quan loved and trusted him a lot. So if he was alive, why would he sudden vanish? I highly doubt he suddenly retired and ran away.
-Luo Tong took over Ling Tong's troops upon Ling Tong's death. Luo Tong died in 228.
I don't think that the age of his sons is a point though. I mean how old was Liu Bei when Liu Shan was born? Besides maybe Ling Tong just had a string of daughters.
I actually mustered up the courage to email de Crespigny. I felt a bit odd about it, like I was like asking the Queen of England to catsit for me or something.
To recap, basically perhaps saying he was 49 was a typo.
OMG de Crespigny's nice- he replied!!!!! If I go to Sydney I'm making him a pie!!
Dear Mr/Ms [sorry!] ((LAST NAME)),
It's a very fair question, and there indeed appears to be a problem
with Sanguo zhi.
SGZ Wu 10:1296 says that Ling Tong was fifteen sui when his father
was killed in action against Huang Zu - and that action is dated firmly
to 203. It was somewhat exceptional for a man to hold command at such a
young age, so I have followed that figure and calculated his birth at 189.
As you observe, however, SGZ Wu 10:1297 says that he died at the
age of 49 [not 47] - and that would mean he was born in 169, twenty
years older. I believe that must be wrong: if he was 35 in 203 there
would have been no question of his getting his father's troops - in fact
he probably would have had a command of his own. Moreover, he would
surely have had sons of some maturity in 217, so they would have taken
over his men. [We are told that his sons were not yet eight or nine sui
at the time of their father's death.]
The Jijie commentary of Lu Bi quotes the Qing scholar Chen Qingyun,
who makes a point similar to yours: if Ling Tong had been fifteen sui in
203 (thus born in 189), and then died at the age of forty-nine, he would
have died in 237 - but nothing is heard of him after about 217. Chen
then suggests that the character 4 has been mis-written for the
character 2. [SGZJJ Wu 10:18b; I use the Taipei fascimile of the
original Mianyang print of 1936].
I accept Chen's argument, and change the reading of 49 to 29 sui.
In other words, he died fourteen years after 203, ie in 217 - which fits
pretty well with the other records, such as Luo Tong's biography; and
makes sense of Sun Quan's adopting his two boys.
It is complex, and a bit of a juggle, and it all relies upon a
mistake in the text, and I may well be wrong - but there's an awful lot
of that in early history. It's amazing how much information there is, so
one really can't complain about the occasional confusion!
Hope this helps!
With kindest regards,
Rafe de Crespigny
Here is part of my original email:
> about the date of Ling Tong's death? There seems to be a bit of confusion
> around it, and I was wondering if I could ask your thoughts at your
> convenience? In 'A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three
> Kingdoms,' the date of Ling Tong's death is listed as 217, but Sanguozhi
> lists his age at death at 47 years. But if Luo Tong took over Ling Tong's
> forces before the Battle of Xiaoting, then Ling Tong must have been dead
> before then, plus the lack of recorded activity from Ling Tong after then
> is strange, if he wasn't retired or dead. But then I thought that his son
> Ling Lie received his command. Are the records mixed up or vague maybe?
Last edited by GuoBia
on Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
Guo run! Guo run!!!!