Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

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Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Xiahou Ren » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:23 pm

I always think Guan Yu is one of the worst officer of the era, along with Ma Chao, Jiang Wei, Ma Su, Yuan Shu, Chunyu Qiong, Cao Shuang, and Sun Lang. Those people achieved NOTHING while repeatedly did more harm than good to their kingdom. Okay, I know others like Sun Quan, Xiahou Dun, and Liu Bei experienced some of the most pathetic defeat of the era, but they also made a lot of great achievements to boot.

What did Guan Yu do? He killed Yan Liang. Big deal. To be honest, I don't think it affected the outcome of Guan Du at all. Who is this Yan Liang guy anyway? And don't even mention Fan Castle. You have to be mentally ill to make so many consecutive tactical mistakes.

He was probably a freak of nature in term of physical prowess, but he was crap as a field general. At least that how I see him.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:34 pm

I'll deal with Guan Yu last. Of the other officers you list

Ma Chao: He is a hard person to pin down how good or bad he was but he was a skilled general with various victories to his name. While the Qiang were crushed under him, that was going to happen anyway.

Jiang Wei: The problem with Jiang Wei is he was a fine officer and when Fei Yi kept a leash on him, he did pretty well. He didn't have the temperament or the long term thinking to be a CiC but he hardly achieved nothing in his life. He was man promoted too far and in his role as CIC, a disaster.

Ma Su: I find it find to be too critical of a man who seems to have had a mental breakdown at Jie Ting.

Yuan Shu: Sure, his career ended in failure, he wasn't a skilled general and his becoming Emperor was a political disaster. Yet he was famed in his younger days, helped destroy the eunuchs, a reasonable schemer and surprisingly resilient.

Chunyu Qiong: He was respected by Emperor Ling, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao, he was famous. The problem is, we don't know why, we know so little about the man's military career other then his defeat at Wu Chao (defeat happens) so hard to really judge.

Cao Shuang: He was an able schemer, outmanoeuvring Sima Yi and Dowager Guo, but lacked the ruthlessness to destroy them which would come to haunt him. His regime is hard to judge as it was in everyone's interests after the event so slam it as much as possible. He hired some of the brightest talent in Wei and began a lot of reforms, his government was a radical one. His failure at the very least was not to take the gentry with him when trying these changes. We don't know if the reforms were effective or not

Sun Lang: Yeah ok, that one was hapless. Feel Sun Quan overacted a little though with that heavy a punishment

Most officers got appointed to the ranks they did for a valid (bar nepotism) reason. Sometimes that step was one that was a step beyond what they were capable of either due to talent or temperament, sometimes the lack of records go against them so they can't be judged fully. It means the men usually achieved something, were men of talent even if they were promoted too far or ended their career in failure.

With Guan Yu, it is hardly going to be a fair account when one goes "all the stuff I know he achieved? Doesn't count." That isn't a fair way of considering any man. Was killing Yan Liang a big deal? Yes. There were only six other officer on officer kills in the entire era so Guan Yu did something unexpected and rare. Who was Yan Liang? One of Yuan Shao's most celebrated officers at time. His death and that of Wen Chou would have a noted affect on morale.

I don't recall too many mistakes in the attack on Fan, at least on the disaster level (or to begin throwing around mental health attacks so casually), he did manage to defeat one of Wei's great generals (possibly by fluke) and then get outclassed by Xu Huang.

Was Guan Yu a good general? In my view, no. His record as a general comes across as rather poor. He was clearly a great warrior, which is more then just how he was built, and he seems to have been an able governor but he was a dreadful diplomat. Given a dreadful hand with Jing but didn't play his cards well.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:20 pm

I admire Guan Yu for how he built the strength of his army over time. He was left with very little by Liu Bei due to the pressure of taking Yi. This doesn't simply include the amount of soldiers but all the best military assets, e.g. Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun, Huang Zhong, Wei Yan etc. He built his military power to the point where it was noteworthy. In the ZZTJ i do recall it being nentioned that Guan Yu was growing stronger in Jing. Also his enemies were pretty much the best of the best, I.e. Lu Meng, Lu Xun, Cao Ren, Xu Huang. Taking that into account I don't think his ultimte defeat would stand as proof that he was a poor general. I think Guan Yu was a very useful asset so long as his power was kept somewhat confined.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Xiahou Ren » Thu Dec 04, 2014 3:18 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Ma Chao: He is a hard person to pin down how good or bad he was but he was a skilled general with various victories to his name. While the Qiang were crushed under him, that was going to happen anyway.

Ma Chao is something. He was apparently a great warrior and commander, but he seems to got this knack to piss everybody off. I have a feeling that Ma Chao resemble some sort of cocky high-school sport jock. Ruthless, egocentric, and looks confident and strong outside, but petty and insecure inside. To be fair, everyone in Liang province didn't look too bright, but Ma Chao just took the cake by indirectly killing his own father by defection for the sake of power.

Dong Zhou wrote:Ma Su: I find it find to be too critical of a man who seems to have had a mental breakdown at Jie Ting.

Aren't you being too generous? I thought he was just downright stupid. For me Ma Su - Wang Ping pair is pretty much the same with Sun Lang - Lu Fan or Xiahou Dun - Li Dian.

And honestly, until today I thought Cao Shuang was someone who just got cold feet to do things properly. I never thought he was actually strong enough to stand up against Sima Yi.

The thing about Guan Yu, he never did anything outstanding. He may grew a strong army, but ultimately lost everything he had worked for. At the end of the day, the loss he caused far outweigh his deeds. Yet he remained arrogant, overconfident, condescending, and probably a jerk to everybody else, friend and foe alike, just because he's Liu Bei's favorite guy. For me he's like that unemployed deadbeat uncle who drinks on your porch all afternoon and teasing you with sexual jokes. And you'd be scolded by your father if you complain about him. The worst out of five Tiger, Guan Yu is.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Dec 04, 2014 3:54 pm

Ma Chao: While you may have a point with the rest of your argument
but Ma Chao just took the cake by indirectly killing his own father by defection for the sake of power.
That seems an extremely harsh interpretation of events. Ma Teng was probably a dead man the moment Cao Cao decided he would destroy the Liang warlords. Cao Cao provoked the war, probably deliberately, and rejected every offer of peace

Ma Su: Wang Ping's SGZ suggests Ma Su was not in the right frame of mind

Cao Shuang: He does indeed seem to have been someone who, in the crunch, freezes.

Guan Yu: The SGZ makes clear he wasn't a jerk to everyone and what part of killing a famous officer in hand to hand combat, which is an extremely rare occurrence, does not count as outstanding? Sure his loss of Jing was devastating for Shu but probably inevitable anyway. Sure he could have been more diplomatic but I'm not convinced that would have saved the situation.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby DragonAtma » Thu Dec 04, 2014 5:06 pm

Xiahou Ren wrote:What did Guan Yu do? He killed Yan Liang. Big deal. To be honest, I don't think it affected the outcome of Guan Du at all. Who is this Yan Liang guy anyway?


Keep in mind that Yan Liang and Wen Chou were considered the best officers in Yuan Shao's army; it turned out that they were overrated, but seeing as Guan Yu was able to just ride in and kill Yan Liang, it was pretty bad for Yuan Shao's morale.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Fri Dec 05, 2014 5:38 am

Xiahou Ren wrote:
The thing about Guan Yu, he never did anything outstanding. He may grew a strong army, but ultimately lost everything he had worked for. At the end of the day, the loss he caused far outweigh his deeds. Yet he remained arrogant, overconfident, condescending, and probably a jerk to everybody else, friend and foe alike, just because he's Liu Bei's favorite guy. For me he's like that unemployed deadbeat uncle who drinks on your porch all afternoon and teasing you with sexual jokes. And you'd be scolded by your father if you complain about him. The worst out of five Tiger, Guan Yu is.


Dr. Rafe De Crespigny would disagree with you. When you have the history books saying this about you...

"Guan Yu's power made central China tremble, and King Cao of Wei even
considered shifting the capital from Xu city to avoid his attacks." (To Establish Peace)

That shows that you had talent, his contemporaries from Cao Cao to Lu Meng and many others praised him, calling him ambitious and cunning, having to think up an extremely well-founded strategy to defeat him which relied upon betrayal and a mass amount of guile.

Here was Guan Yu's "arrogant" response when he returned from Fan Castle...


"Guan Yu sent messengers several times to Lü Meng to exchange news, and
Lü Meng treated these men most generously. He took them round the city,
and each household sent word [to their relatives with Guan Yu's army].
Some wrote in their own hand to show it was trustworthy. When Guan Yu's
people went back, they too told their friends what they had seen. So all
knew that their families had come to no harm and that they were actually
treated better than in peacetime. Guan Yu's soldiers became less interested
in fighting." (To Establish Peace)

'By this one stroke, Lü Meng had changed the military strategy of the region. Guan Yu
abandoned his operations at Fan city and Xiangyang and came directly southwards. He
was not followed by Cao Cao's forces, for they preferred to let their two southern enemies
fight things out. It was in fact, possible, despite his disadvantage, that Guan Yu might be
able to drive Lü Meng away, or at least compel another negotiated settlement. He was
faced, however, not only by a military coup, but also by admirable propaganda. " (Generals of the South - The Great Betrayal)

A fully arrogant man would have attacked his enemies as soon as he found out that his lands had been seized, but he sought diplomacy and while this backfired Tremendously it is still worthy that he attempted a peaceful resolution to the situation when he could have attacked, and according to Dr. Crespigny, have still removed Lu Meng from the land.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Xiahou Ren » Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:06 am

He's good at training soldier... was is such a great achievement?
Well, considering the time period, I guess that was something.
He may be good at training soldier and mustering power, but in the end, it meant little because he lost anyway.

And he was still a horrid as both diplomat and strategist. He resembles Yamamoto on Pacific war. Good at winning the battle, but not the war. After they won something, these guys had no idea what to do with so much resource, came up with disastrous idea, and ended up undid all the good stuff they had done. One step forward, two step back kind of guy.

But this is what made me think less of him.
He insulted his ally, rob their food, and scolded his subordinate. Why? It was so unnecessary.
Why must he patronize Wu? Why he treated them as if they were his lapdog, not equal ally?
Isn't at the time the alliance between Wu and Shu was shaky as it is? Why must he pour gasoline to burning fire?
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 05, 2014 1:39 pm

Xiahou Ren wrote:these guys had no idea what to do with so much resource, came up with disastrous idea, and ended up undid all the good stuff they had done


What are you referring to?

Xiahou Ren wrote:He insulted his ally, rob their food, and scolded his subordinate.


1) Yeah, that was bad. I still don't think being a better diplomat would have saved him but it was poor from Guan Yu

2) I'm not sure who gave the over for that raid and Wu were already preparing their armies so just a PR own goal

3) Subordinate messed up, subordinate should get... what?

Why must he patronize Wu? Why he treated them as if they were his lapdog, not equal ally?


Because he didn't trust Wu further then he could throw them with arms tied down by an elephant. So (in some cases rightly) he viewed their offers with distrust and let his distrust be clear.
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Re: Did Guan Yu ever do anything noteworthy?

Unread postby FoxWithWings » Tue Dec 09, 2014 6:06 am

To be honest, this sounds more like an anti-Shu rant than anything else. Guan Yu was celebrated as one of the greatest warriors of the era. He may have been defeated at Jing, but he was facing off in a battle of wiles against LU MENG. I would like to see anyone from Wei win in the same conditions.

And Ma Su? He was commended and recommended several times for good strategy. He had a good reputation before Jie Ting. Unfortunately, he just fell apart. He made a mistake.

I agree with Dong Zhou on Ma Chao.

With Jiang Wei, I thought him a very, very poor substitute for Zhuge Liang. I never found much respect for him.
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