Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

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Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Zhou Chie » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:00 pm

What were his merits? Recently heard lots of remarks against Xiahou Dun, and yet he seemed like one of the most valued men Cao Cao had, which is causing a lot of confusion for me as I'm struggling to grasp whether he was an incompetent buffoon who's only fortune was the family he was born into, or was he a talented man? Further I can't seem to find much on Xiahou Dun, could someone pls help?
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:29 pm

Zhou Chie wrote:What were his merits? Recently heard lots of remarks against Xiahou Dun, and yet he seemed like one of the most valued men Cao Cao had, which is causing a lot of confusion for me as I'm struggling to grasp whether he was an incompetent buffoon who's only fortune was the family he was born into, or was he a talented man? Further I can't seem to find much on Xiahou Dun, could someone pls help?


He was without a doubt a pretty inept commander and relatively unintelligent in that regard. It is very unlikely that he studied the classics, at least ones relevant to warfare. He was apparently a good governor and may have had especially high morale fibre. I'm sure someone else can give some specific examples. Can't do it right now.

Edit: taking a quick look at his SGZ you can see that off the battlefield he had strong leadership skills and charisma (popular with peasants). In this way he may have been superior to others in the Wei camp.
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:41 pm

Most of Cao Cao's leading officers were military commanders whereas Xiahou Dun was especially valuable because he was incredibly loyal to Cao Cao and had a completely different skill set.
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby XuSheng » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:30 am

Well he got kidnapped by bandits even though Yu Jin warned him...
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby DragonAtma » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:58 am

Xiahou Dun: great at governing, so-so at leading troops.

Cao Cao trusted him greatly (to the point when, as king of wei, Cao Cao gave Xiahou Dun a Han title on the basis that wei titles were insufficient). Commoners loved him as well because he was a great governor; officers were less than thrilled with him, though.
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Mestre Will » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:14 am

I always see Xiahou Dun as man who can follow but not lead.

When you plan someting and the say to him to it or that , it probably will be make good and easy, however if he is in charge of the plan so things can go realy wrong.

I dont know he actualy become a governor , nice ; but as far i know as general he is only good if there is someone other as commander.
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby DragonAtma » Sun Mar 03, 2013 8:21 pm

Mestre Will wrote:I dont know he actualy become a governor , nice ; but as far i know as general he is only good if there is someone other as commander.


Among the list of KMA titles for him:

Governor of Dong Prefecture
Governor of Chenliu
Governor of Jiyin
Governor of He’nan

Furthermore, it's stated that he performed agricultural reform around chenliu (helping the peasants), so he clearly had some administrative powers.
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby PenPen » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:35 am

[Report:]
I don't believe Xiahou Dun should be described as "incompetent", even just to base on the novel alone.

As already mentioned by many others before, Xiahou Dun is both loyal and fierce. Although the novel also described him as quick-temper/short-sighted (ch.39 as the most memorable highlight on that), this trait alone hardly makes him "incompetent".

And yes, Xiahou Dun is one of the least mentioned characters in the novel while being a very important general for Wei. And his appearance is usually leaning toward negative appearance (come to think of it, I don't recall much on his victory battles mentioned... if any?) within the novel. However, this doesn't make him anything less because, IMHO, and to quote art of the war, "those who achieved absolute victory were not mentioned".

Furthermore, there were no poem/song about him been a bad general on any of his losses (at least none I can think of?), nor any mentioning on he did wrong in his position/work/job. And for all we know, when the novel deemed someone "bad", it is usually pointed out one way or another.

So, I don't believe Xiahou Dun should be described as "incompetent".
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:11 am

Most of us were using history to describe him as a bad general. History does tend to mention victories but Dun has so little of them when in command and one or two of his defeats are embarrassing
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Re: Xiahou Dun: Incompetent or Competent?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:42 am

Looking again at Xiahou Dun's SGZ, there is something to really admire. It has only been mentioned very briefly by DragonAtma. To give the specific quote:

During his term of office there were sometimes drought and locust attacks. Dun blockaded the river and used the fertile riverbed for agricultural purposes. He led his men to join in the labor and he carried soil on his back like the peasants. The people benefited because of his leadership, and later Dun became the governor of He’nan.


In this situation Xiahou Dun truly led by example. It impresses me how he personally took part in the hard labour, thus inspiring the people around him. This man had a noble quality about him. I quite like him for this.

You get the impression that Xiahou Dun was more than just a good governor, he was probably excellent. Cao Cao tended to reward based on ability not simply blood. Xiahou Dun was given special rights (could make his own law entirely) when it came to governing his territory. This must have done because of the brilliance he had demonstrated in the past in this field.

My final view of Xiahou Dun is that he was a relatively poor general but in the elite category as a governor. Cao Cao was very fortunate to have his services and he honoured this accordingly.
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