How able was Sun Liang?

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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Jordan » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:34 am

my father (then just a kid) and his father were watching an up-and-coming politician on TV; my grandfather turned to my father and said, "There's something about him I just don't trust." Who was he talking about? Why, VP candidate (and eventual president) Richard Nixon. If my grandfather could predict something like this happening twenty years in advance, then surely one of Wu's finest minds could make this prediction about his own son a mere decade in advance.


This is a false analogy fallacy. Judging a politician is not the same as judging your own son. The analogy doesn't hold up and the argument doesn't either. Having "something about a politician you just don't trust" isn't an amazing prediction. And secondly, based on what we know about Zhuge Ke's early life, there isn't a great deal of reason for me to believe that his father ardently distrusted him. In addition, there were many things about Nixon's early speeches and conduct that gave reasons for distrust. There is little about Zhuge Ke's early life, that we can see from the record anyways, that seems out of line. On the contrary, his early life made him seem like somebody who showed promise.

If Zhuge Ke distrusted him so much that he thought he'd bring ruin, he would have trained his son to serve in some other capacity. Overall, there is something fishy about the whole concept.

Add to it the fact that it's a cliche that happens with literally every event or chain of events that happens in the three kingdoms, and I am very skeptical. I mean seriously, this happens with every single freaking thing: Some fortune teller predicts that Liu Bei will take Hanzhong but not take all of the people, some guy in Wei predicts that Zhuge Ke will fall from power (how did he even have the information to make that prediction?), some Cao prince predicts that the Wei family policy of employing bureaucrats instead of strengthening the royal house will lead Wei to fall internally and that even in a civil war among princes, a dynasty would survive (thus predicting not only the cause of Wei's fall but also the War of the Eight Princes and the formation of Eastern Jin), Xun Yu knowing literally every single flaw of Yuan Shao's officers and how these flaws will lead to their downfalls.

I could go on. The examples are innumerable and so cliche and convenient that I find them all very hard to believe. They definitely seem the product of hindsight bias instead of reality to me. While certainly there were some instances where officers advised against a campaign because it had obvious drawbacks, and these I am inclined to think may have been real advice in many cases, in other cases it seems like a historian's embellishment.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby DragonAtma » Thu Feb 28, 2013 5:51 pm

it's true that judging as politician is not the same as judging your own son... becasue Zhuge Jin lived with Zhuge Ke for two decades and knew him a hell of a lot better than my grandpa knew nixon, plus his was smarter than my grandpa.

The point is that if my grandpa could see that nixon's a guo tu wannabe, Zhuge Jin would DEFINITELY see his son's flaws, even if he was hesitant to accept them.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:16 pm

Its often easier to see someones flaws from the outside.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Jordan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:23 am

DragonAtma wrote:it's true that judging as politician is not the same as judging your own son... becasue Zhuge Jin lived with Zhuge Ke for two decades and knew him a hell of a lot better than my grandpa knew nixon, plus his was smarter than my grandpa.

The point is that if my grandpa could see that nixon's a guo tu wannabe, Zhuge Jin would DEFINITELY see his son's flaws, even if he was hesitant to accept them.


I don't like the analogy still. It's not hard at all to decide that a politician isn't trustworthy. I think it would be more spectacular if you could pick out a politician who WAS trustworthy.

And still, the supposed distrust Zhuge Jin had for Zhuge Ke doesn't jive with his actual actions as a father and as a Wu official. Further, there is practically nothing in Zhuge Ke's early career that showed anything else but promise. And even as a leader, his only mistake was arguably falling for a ruse by the Wei defender of Hefei. He came the closest of any Wu general to actually taking Hefei and his only huge drawbacks were arrogance or pride, neither of which led to his death or the extermination of his family so much as the greedy ambitions of Sun Jun.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:04 am

Thank you everyone for having shared your views, but I think that I have expressed myself poorly.
chinesecannibal wrote:They weren't popular because they weren't in Dynasty Warriors lol.

Sun Hao, he go eat the FAT roast pork, then he go funk, then he go sleep, then wake up and do it all over again!
I tell you, that's a good life.


Yes, always the Dynasty Warriors :mrgreen: but, since they decided to add the Jin faction, they will be forced to talk about that part of the novel, so, lets just cross our fingers :lol:

DragonAtma wrote:Maybe Sun Liang was able. Maybe he wasn't. It's hard to tell, seeing as he was 15 when he was deposed and forced to commit suicide two years later. Just keep in mind that Zhang Bu and Puyang Xing thought that picking Sun Hao would be a good choice for Wu...


Yes, agreed, the monster only showed himself latter. :devil:
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:39 am

Jordan wrote:
Sun Hao, he go eat the FAT roast pork, then he go funk, then he go sleep, then wake up and do it all over again!
I tell you, that's a good life.


What? :shock:

I seriously don't know what this is supposed to mean.

Sun Liang was a decent-ish Emperor but Wu just suffered a great deal of political instability after Sun Quan's death. Sun Xiu was an even better one but the time he took power, Wu had undergone some serious rot from the constant seizures of power by military dictators.

I find your interpretations of Zhuge Ke to be rather flawed, though. Zhuge Ke was a far more able leader than the man who assassinated him and took power. Some of your other statements are fallacious as well. Calling Sima Shi a bad commander because of the battle Zhuge Ke won, for instance, makes no sense. Sima Shi wasn't even involved in that particular campaign. Blame for the defeat mostly fell on Sima Zhao and Zhuge Dan. While I don't really think Sima Shi was a good commander anyways, I think that the evidence you provided to support that conclusion is very weak.


Well, I may have been cruel in my analysis about Zhuge Ke, I agree that he was more able than his sucessors (but that don't make him "that able"). But you are more than generous about Sun Xiu :lol:

Sun Xiu was more a scholar that emperor, he simply didn't care about ruling his kingdom, so he gave the authority for the two people he knew since his time as prince, Puyang Xing and Zhang Bu. I think that using "the serious rot from the constant seizures of power by military dictators" was a "fallacious statements" of your part as well, once Sun Chen was dead, he could have done anything he wished, and even so, he didn't! He still left the power at his "trusted aidies".

About Sima Shi, if he choose who to lead the campaign, he also share some of the responsabity for the loss (himself promoted some people who were against the attack), while I agree that this alone don't prove him as a bad commander, this proved that he did made some bad decisions during his time in power.

DragonAtma wrote:Zhuge Ke was able, but arrogant. Unfortunately, being arrogant causes problems -- especially if you screw up (which pretty much everyone will do eventually).


That is exactly the point.

Jordan wrote:
DragonAtma wrote:Zhuge Ke was able, but arrogant. Unfortunately, being arrogant causes problems -- especially if you screw up (which pretty much everyone will do eventually).

I don't disagree with that. It's a much more balanced view.

However, to take the written record at complete face value, actually believing that Zhuge Jin long believed his son would turn out to be a disaster (for example) is not really critical thinking. Neither is believing that Zhuge Ke was a monster and despot.


But he was a monster and a despot (the point is that his sucessors were even worse)

Jordan wrote:I personally am skeptical of the notion that Zhuge Jin knew his son would lead his family line to disaster. If it were true, he didn't seem to do anything about it and, quite the contrary, it seems like for the most part Zhuge Ke was reared to become an official like his father.


I agree with your point that this could have been writen by someone else, but if it was true, would you left your talented son (with some character flaws) out of office just by his "flaws"?

Jordan wrote:
Arrogant, full of pride, lacking in skill as a commander-in-chief and leader compared to other heroes of the age: All of these are decent descriptions of Zhuge Ke. But calling him a monster and putting full faith in slander I find a little bit hard to swallow.


It is not put full faith in slader, is putting full faith in facts!
Even if we ignore the possible slander, Zhuge Ke stills a monster who used his position to sieze power from an infant emperor and abused it! The people who plot to kill him are the same who gave advice to Sun Quan to put him in the position in the first place! Do you want anymore prove that he was a monster?
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:59 am

DragonAtma wrote:As for Zhuge Ke, he wasn't tyrannical until his major failure; his failing was that he absolutely refused to take blame for his loss, and punished people who insisted that he was at fault. As for not being rehabilitated, he lost many Wu soldiers on a failed attack on Wei; although Sun Xiu had him reburied with honors, he turned down the idea of giving Zhuge Ke a monument.

So no, Zhuge Ke was not a monster. But no, he wasn't willing to take the blame for his disaster either, and that was his downfall.


He was indeed tyrannical before his major failure, if you count that almost every single officer of influence in Wu at that time were against the attack in the first place and even those who agreed were cautious about the part of "mobilizing the entire state armed forces in one attack", but Zhuge Ke ignored them.
I still think he was a monster, for me, a commander who leave his soldiers to die while retreat is a monster (not even other "monsters" in the period did that).

Jordan wrote:
Add to it the fact that it's a cliche that happens with literally every event or chain of events that happens in the three kingdoms, and I am very skeptical. I mean seriously, this happens with every single freaking thing: Some fortune teller predicts that Liu Bei will take Hanzhong but not take all of the people, some guy in Wei predicts that Zhuge Ke will fall from power (how did he even have the information to make that prediction?), some Cao prince predicts that the Wei family policy of employing bureaucrats instead of strengthening the royal house will lead Wei to fall internally and that even in a civil war among princes, a dynasty would survive (thus predicting not only the cause of Wei's fall but also the War of the Eight Princes and the formation of Eastern Jin), Xun Yu knowing literally every single flaw of Yuan Shao's officers and how these flaws will lead to their downfalls.


Some Zhou Yu predicts that Sun Quan can defeat Cao Cao at Chi Bi.....
Some Zhou Yu changes the course of history!

Sun Fin wrote:Its often easier to see someones flaws from the outside.

Not at all

Jordan wrote:the supposed distrust Zhuge Jin had for Zhuge Ke doesn't jive with his actual actions as a father and as a Wu official. Further, there is practically nothing in Zhuge Ke's early career that showed anything else but promise. And even as a leader, his only mistake was arguably falling for a ruse by the Wei defender of Hefei. He came the closest of any Wu general to actually taking Hefei and his only huge drawbacks were arrogance or pride, neither of which led to his death or the extermination of his family so much as the greedy ambitions of Sun Jun.


He showed his flaws before, but as he wasn't in position of power yet, nobody gave credit.
If Zhuge Jin was able to see his son's flaws, he couldn't have done much to prevent anything. Zhuge Ke was his oldest son, anything he tried to do would have disgraced his clan.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:46 pm

I still think he was a monster, for me, a commander who leave his soldiers to die while retreat is a monster (not even other "monsters" in the period did that).


The ZZTJ doesn't say that, it says he kept calm in the retreat, not that he left them to die. As for men being left behind, would have happened pretty often as retreats get chaotic. After all Cao Cao and Liu Bei both left their family behind on occasions

On the Wu emperors: Sun Liang was clearly intelligent and his plot wasn't a bad one but that doesn't mean he would have been a good ruler. Sun Xiu wasted his chance, seemed too keen on his books and left running to corrupt men, doesn't strike me as a particularly smart man and he made a mediocre empire who allowed Wu's decline to continue. Sun Hao was very intelligent and he did start rule as a good man, clearly (leaving aside some of the allegations against him seem to be false) had issues with paranoia which given his childhood, would hardly be a surprise.

@Foreshadowing. There is a need to be a tad careful, history does love to foreshadow as much as any novel. If the camapign is lost, any advice against launching that camapign (which there is for every major camapign) is boosted up and highlighted. Ignoring the 100 said advice turned out to be wrong. There are omens at birth, speeches get touched up to reflect events (Xun Yu no doubt did rally Cao Cao for Guan Du, it is extremely unlikely he did the most accurate predictive speech in history). Someone who has railed against several politicians becomes a seer of accuracy if one of them goes bad, the other 600 times get forgotten.

Zhuge Jin probably did worry about Ke at times and at other times delight in his son, he would have said a lot of things about his son and yet becuase Ke falls, that one line gets remembered and all the rest vanish from history. A parent can know their child best but also can be blinded in good and bad ways about the child becuase they are too close.

@Zhuge Ke. A man, not a monster. A clearly intelligent and able man, ruthless politician which was perhaps what was needed during a childhood regency (which he was appointed to), initially helped stabilize things and was highly popular but the big issue seems to be that having been successful for so long, he didn't know how to react to a setback. Defeats happen (and that is all that happened, he lost a battle), there was going to be flak for it and with the way Wu court was, never a good place to be. He reacts better, responding promptly to court, soothing people's concerns and a mea culpa, he probably survives. However he grew harsh in his insecurity and misreading the politics, he gave opportunity for his rivals to bring down a powerful subject. In a more stable court, Zhuge Ke might have survived none the less.

I don't see him as particularly evil, he could be harsh but that would fit most of the Wu court.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:13 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:The ZZTJ doesn't say that, it says he kept calm in the retreat, not that he left them to die. As for men being left behind, would have happened pretty often as retreats get chaotic. After all Cao Cao and Liu Bei both left their family behind on occasions


The point is that most of his soldiers were falling ill (he knew that, but ignored).
As for Cao Cao and Liu Bei's families.....

Liu Bei left his family behind A LOT of times (maybe Mi Fang had a grudge against him because of his sister?), that said, Liu Bei was a kind of monster too.
About Cao Cao, aside from Wancheng (he was caught complete by surprise, with Zhuge Ke wasn't), I can't remember any situation that he left family behind (to save his own skin, I mean).
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby DL01 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:14 am

It is a complicated question. I will try and clips in.

First, we need to understand how we can judge Sun Liang. The turning point in the whole story (historically accurate that is) is that he trusted Sun Jun that Zhuge Ke is a problem and need to get rid of. Which I guess we need to understand the mistake Zhuge Ke made that lead to this.

The turning point in Zhuge Ke's ability is the fifth battle of Battle of Xiaoyao Ford. The English version of Wiki didn't record this, but the chinese version clearly sated this with good citation:

Code: Select all
On the way to attack Wei, Zhuge Ke intend to show off his military power. So he went and drive those civilians. Officers in general feel difficult in this tactic, so one of them made this advice "Today, the introduction of the military in depth, the civilians will flee fast and hard to chase. I am afraid that the soldiers fatigue due to this. It is better to only surround the city. Wait for their rescue.  We just beat the rescue, we will be victory." Zhuge Ke listened to the plan, ordered the siege of Hefei. He is about to win, Wei's officer Guowen Zhang wanted to buy time and told Zhuge Ke that, according to Wei's law, they can surrender if they can defend for one hundred days, and Wei will not harm his family. Since it has only a few more days till this 100 days requirement is met,  Guowen Zhang asked Zhuge Ke to go easy on them.

Zhuge Ke believed it, they stop siege. However, Zhang has taken the opportunity to repair the wall, so they can continue to resist, then Wu Jun said: "I only have to fight and die!" Zhuge Ke furious, violent attack, but can not broke the town anymore. Soon after, Wu Jun at this time because of summer heat and the outbreak of the disease, many soldiers fell ill, generals report this to Zhuge Ke, but Zhuge Ke thought they are lying and threaten with execution. So the soldiers can not complains to Zhuge Ke.

 Later, Wei Guojiu and Wu Jun exhausted and rushed to, Zhuge Ke was in July to withdraw troops in the retreat on the road Wu Bing. Due to all the illness and injuries, Zhuge Ke was easily chased down by Wenqin defeat. Lost more then 10,000 mans

Some how, after all these Zhuge Ke still appears not affected by the tragic lost. He just wanted to return to 寻阳 (a chinese location that has no English location) and farm up. The court repeatedly asked Zhuge Ke to reply send his troops back several times to get him to return. Overall, Zhuge Ke's performance of this war so that officials and civilians are very disappointed and complaining.


These are my translation. Sorry if it doesn't read terribly good because I don't want to spend too much time getting every tiny detail out properly.

Anyway, after reading this. I can't really fault Sun Liang listening to Sun Jun and plans Zhuge Ke's murder. Which is really the biggest thing he did and overall. At least he is capable of critical thinking and understand who is to be trusted and not to be trusted and his plot on murdering Zhuge Ke seems to be reasonable in his position. Therefore, Sun Liang is at the very least, not unable in my opinion.
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