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Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:07 am
by DaoLunOfShiji
Zhong Yu, style Zhishu (200-263)

Zhong Yu was the son of Zhong Yao and his prime wife Lady Sun, born in the year 200 he was their eldest son. He had three relatives, a young brother named Zhong Shao (born sometime after 200) and his youngest half-brother the famous Hui (225) of Wei [1], along with a sister (unknown birth date) that would marry Xun Xi and give birth to the famous Xun Xu of Jin. [2] Zhong Yu is described as clever, quick, conversation, full of laughter and was said to resemble his father's mannerisms. His career began rather young at the age of fourteen when he became a Cavalier Attendant-Gentleman under Cao Cao. [3]

In 227 Zhuge Liang was attempting to take Mei during one of his northern campaigns. Wei Yan advised that if he took the path of Ziwu he could take Changan and in twenty days the area of Changan and the west will belong to Shu. Zhuge Liang disagreed and he met the Wei army at Mount Qi. [4]

Cao Rui had plans to march west to fight him, however Zhong Yu sent a memorial to the court,

“In strategy esteem [planning in] headquarters for victory, in achievement esteem [planning in] tents, do not go down from above the palace hall, and decide victory a thousand lǐ away. The Imperial Chariot should defend the central lands, to be the assistant to the Four Corner’s authority. Now the main army campaigns west, and though it has a hundredfold authority, its costs to Guānzhōng, are already massive. Moreover in flourishing heat sending out the army, poets may esteem, but it is not what the time for your Honor to move.“ [5]

In short, it is not the Emperor’s duty to leave the throne to score a victory. The distance isn’t worth it, the straight on Guanzhong isn’t worth it and it’s better to have his majesty shine in the capital. Cao Rui, however, didn’t seem to listen as on March 4th he moved to Changan. Ma Su was charged with leading the vanguard of the Shu forces and he disobeyed Zhuge Liang’s direct orders at Jieting. Rather than occupying a walled city, he camped in the mountains. Because of this, Zhang He cut off his water supply to dehydrate the rebel force and attacked, destroying them in spectacular fashion. [6] The Northern Campaign was a complete disaster, though Cao Rui’s presence in Changan certainly wasn’t a deciding factor. Not that Zhong Yu’s advice being tossed aside was bad, but that Cao Rui truly had no reason to leave. Wei would have won regardless of his presence.

Zhong Yu was eventually made Yellow Gate Attendant Gentleman while Cao Rui was renovating the palace at Luoyang, meaning the court had to meet at Xuchang. However Xuchang was too small, thus Cao Rui decided south of the city shall be where court is held. He wanted there to be preparations for entertainment, and the SGZ makes note that the laborers were those that were common folk forced into doing it. [7] Zhong Yu once more sent another memorial to the throne,

“The season is inappropriate, the treasury is empty, and if there is to be something like this, it can wait for a prosperous year.”

Basically stating it’s the wrong time of the year and the country is broke. Now is not the time for this shit. He also advised that it would be best to devote more men to uncultivated lands to focus on farming. These proposals were accepted. [8]

In the year 244 Cao Shuang invaded Shu, leaving than a force of around 100,000 men. [9] He did not, however, meet with the success he was hoping as the defences of Wang Ping would not budge and the supply lines provided from the Di and Qiang tribes were not sufficient enough for an army of that size. [10] Cao Shuang sent a memorial to the court asking for more soldiers, though if his supply lines were stretched thin I do not see what adding more onto them could possibly achieve. [11] However Zhong Yu sent him a personal letter on the matter,

“I humbly believe the strategy for victory, is to not face arrows and stones. A ruler’s troops, campaigns without battle. Truly spears and axes can take the southwest, withdrawing is enough to take the enemy. We need not imitate Wú Hàn at Jiāngguān, or Hán Xìn at Jǐngxíng. Seeing opportunity and advancing, knowing difficulty and retreating, is governance since ancient times. May you lord consider this!” [12]

Zhong Yu is basically stating that throwing soldiers at a losing cause will not bring about victory. It is best to wait for the right opportunity. There are lessons in the past we must learn from.

Cao Shuang eventually retreated with minimal losses after Sima Yi had sent a letter to Xiahou Xuan advising him to avoid danger [13], and Zhong Yu was soon demoted and sent away from the capital to Weijun. Cao Shuang, however, was eventually killed by Sima Yi in a coup and Zhong Yu was appointed Palace Attendant Minister of Justice. [14] Yu implemented several practices including a son being able to content slander suffered by the father if the father is dead, as well as women not remarrying when their husbands became a Marquis that were once scholars. [15]

In earlier 254 when Sima Shi was in charge of the government, he was met with resistance from men like Li Feng, Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi. Li Feng was even given a private audience with the Emperor, Cao Fang, and this infuriated Sima Shi. News somehow leaked that these men were plotting to have Sima Shi killed and be replaced with Xiahou Xuan. He interrogated Li Feng about these meetings, but Li Feng would not confess, so Sima Shi beat him to death with the hilt of his sword. [16] Zhong Yu, the Minister of Justice at this time, was actually sent the corpse. Zhong Yu initially refused the corpse, stating that his office doesn’t deal in these matters, but Sima Shi told him of the charges and forced him to take it. [17]

Li Feng’s son, Tao, along with Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi were all implicated on treason charges and sent to Zhong Yu for judgement. Zhong Yu charged them accordingly,

“Li Feng conspired with the huangmeen jian Su Shuo (蘇鑠), the yongning shuling, Yue Dun (樂敦), the rongcong puyi Liu Xian (劉賢), etc. (all eunuchs), and said, ‘On the day when the guiren (imperial concubine) is to be appointed, the troops from the various barracks will be stationed at the palace gates and His Majesty will appear under the gable of the hall; let us take this occasion to obtain permission from His Majesty and lead the officials and troops to kill the Generalissimo. Should His Majesty not assent, he must be coerced and taken away with us.'”

The charge further read, “Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi were aware of this conspiracy.” [18]

While Xiahou Xuan was in prison he would refuse to make any confession of guilt. Zhong Yu came before him and Xiahou Xuan chided him, stating that he might as well write the confession himself since Xiahou Xuan will die regardless and he won’t speak the truth. Zhong Yu had known Xiahou Xuan for some time, and respected him greatly. He knew the confession had to be written, and he left to write it. Zhong Yu did his absolute best to make the confession as truthful as possible. The next day he returned to Xiahou Xuan’s cell, and with tears in his eyes presented the confession to Xiahou Xuan who looked at it and simply nodded. With a dignified poise, Xiahou Xuan then left and he was executed, along with all the other conspirators and their families. [19]

Guanqiu Jian rebelled in Shouchun in 255 and was defeated, it was the duty of Zhong Yu to take over Yangzhou and Yuzhou for the time being and issue a general amnesty, as well as soothe the populace of a cantankerous region in Wei. [20]

The new Emperor, Cao Mao, was holding a debate with many of his ministers, including Xun Yi and Zhong Yu. The debate centered around who should receive more credit, Shaokang of Xia, who brought about the resuscitation of a Dynasty fallen into the hands of a traitor and usurper, or Liu Bang of Han, who founded a Dynasty. Xun Yi argued Shaokang would be given preference, while Zhong Yu maintained that while Shaokang was a greater sovereign, he did not accomplish as much as Liu Bang. Cao Mao retorted had there have been more records at the time, Shaokang’s achievements would’ve been recorded. Though this story may not be true, it shows the kind of man Cao Mao was. He views the man saving his Dynasty a greater man than the one founding his own. [21] Little bit of foreshadowing there, eh Sun Sheng?

Zhong Yu was noted as an exceptional archer and everyone admired his ability greatly. However he and Wei Shu once held a competition against one another and Yu was bested. He had been unaware Wei Shu was that skilled with a bow, exclaiming "My talents can never be a match for yours!" [22]

In 256 Zhuge Dan revolted in Shouchun, and Sima Zhao desired to personally march against him. It was reported that Sun Yi of Wu was defecting, and because of that they are unable to send out an army. However Zhong Yu argued that when discussing the enemy one must use oneself as the example. Zhuge Dan has already raised an army, and Sun Yi brings only a few hundred soldiers. If the rebellion is not crushed quickly, the loss of Sun YI won’t be great and Wu may mobilize an army. Sima Zhao agreed and he set off, destroying Zhuge Dan’s rebellion. [23] After this Zhong Yu was made Inspector of Qingzhou, and eventually Commander of Jingzhou. [24]

His younger half brother, Zhong Hui, was receiving quite a lot favor from Sima Zhao. He warned Sima Zhao of this,

“Zhong Hui is crafty and one cannot vouch for his honesty. He should not be given too much trust.”

Sima Zhao laughed at this, and stated that if Zhong Hui is a rebel at heart, the Zhong family will be spared. Zhong Yu was of course proven correct eventually when Zhong Hui did rebel and meet disaster at the hands of loyal soldiers of Wei. [25] However while Zhong Hui was off on campaign against Shu, Zhong Yu passed away. It’s likely Hui never heard about it. Zhong Yu was eneoffed as the Gentle Marquis. [26] From 258 all the way to his death in 263 Zhong Yu held the title of General of the Rear. [27]

Thus ends the story of Zhong Yu. He was an able minister, a wise man and a loyal subject. Truly it seems he was loved by his contemporaries and given that he was said to be similar to his father, it is easy to understand why. Though his advise was not always heeded it never truly proved incorrect. Zhong Yu's career was not as glorious as that of his half-brother or his father, but that does not understate the contributions he made. They were significant enough that when Sima Zhao proclaimed the fate of the Zhong clan in wake of Hui's rebellion, Yu's accomplishments were listed as a reason for them being spared. He did not have a glamorous career, but he had an interesting one that had him involved, in one way or another, with important events during the Three Kingdoms.

[1] Howard L. Goodman, The Calligrapher Chung Yu (Ca. 163-230) and the Demogaphics of a Myth
[2] Howard L. Goodman, Xun Xu and the Politics of Precision in Third-century AD China
[3] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[4] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography, The ZZTJ states that this took place in 228 however the SGZ claims it to be the year before. I defer to Chen Shou's decision and go with 227.
[5] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[6] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[7] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[8] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[9] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[10] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[11] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[12] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[13] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[14] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[15] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[16] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, The Weilue states that Sima Shi had a muscular man do so while the Jinshu states that he had several armed men do the act.
[17] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[18] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[19] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[20] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[21] Sun Sheng, Wei Shi Chunqiu
[22] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[23] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[24] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[25] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[26] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[27] Empire Divided "Ranks of Wei" chart states that Zhong Yu held the position during this time span, and since he passed away in 263 he would have died in office.

Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:28 pm
by Dong Zhou
Not a figure one often hears about so thanks. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about his legal reforms?

Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 1:33 pm
by DaoLunOfShiji
I'm fully behind his policy of allowing a son to contest the slander of a father that had passed. Such a thing was, sadly, common at the time and more than likely prevented many people from either getting into office, or getting any substantial promotions and thus intentionally hiding talent from the world.

As for the policy on women not remarrying when their husbands become a Marquis, that one intrigues me. The wording in the SGZ isn't clear, and I don't it's the case, but is he giving women the security that they shall remain on the Marquissate and not be forced to remarry?

Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:53 am
by DaoLunOfShiji
Tagging this onto here rather than making it a separate post.

The Zhong Yu Perspective

When it comes to the rebellion of Wei’s Excellency Over the Masses Zhong Hui 鍾會 in March in 264 against the Sima regime controlling the state of Wei, one may often think back to the recently deceased Zhong Yu 鍾毓 who warned the Jin Emperor Wen-di 文帝, Sima Zhao 司馬昭, of giving his brother too much power as he was not trustworthy. Zhong Yu’s exact wording on the matter is recorded in his brother’s Sanguozhi 三國志 biography,

“Zhong Hui is crafty and one cannot vouch for his honesty. He should not be given too much trust.”
會挾術難保,不可專任 [1]

The exact timing of this quote is not known, only that Zhong Yu spoke in private with Wen-di of Jin. It is probable that his occurred sometime between the suppression of Zhuge Dan 諸葛誕 when Zhong Hui’s authority was supreme over the capital region and he held great sway in the empire[2], and Zhong Yu’s death in 264 while Zhong Hui was campaigning.[3][4] A further addition is added to this famous quote and is from the Han Jin Chunqiu 漢晉春秋 of Xi Zuochi 習鑿齒, which reads,

Jin Wen-di commended his loyalty and sincerity; laughing, he replied to Zhong Yu, ‘If things should turn out as you say, I promise that your family will not be affected.'” Sima Zhao meant that should Zhong Hui turn out to be a rebel, the punishment would not be meted out to Zhong Yu’s family.


Now the question this leads one on is a simple one with a complex answer: Why would Zhong Yu knowingly betray his own flesh and blood brother? Well, this requires some set up of the two Zhong and their family first.

Zhong Yu and Hui were the two prominent sons of the Wei Statesman, Scholar, Calligraphy, General and Excellency Zhong Yao 鍾繇, affectionately known as Zhong Taifu 鍾太傅, yet they were not full brothers as they share separate mothers. The elder Yu was sired by Yao and a woman of the Sun Clan 孫, while the younger Hui was twenty years later with a woman of the Zhang 張, appellation Changpu 昌蒲.[6]

Zhong Yu’s mother, Lady Sun 孫氏, enjoyed a favorable position at the home, yet she abused that authority. According to Zhong Hui’s Mu furen Zhangshi zhuan 母夫人張氏傳, she was jealous and violent, often slandering other wives and she went out of her way to confuse falsehoods and truths. Prior to Hui’s birth in 225 the Lady Sun attempted to poison Lady Zhang 張氏 to induce an abortion, yet the Lady realized what had happened and she spit it out before it was too late. Lady Zhang then claimed to be ill and remained bedridden. When a servant came to ask why she hasn’t turned in Lady Sun, Lady Zhang remarks that if she waits, Lady Sun will assume Zhang already spoke with Zhong Yao and accused her of poisoning her, at which point Lady Sun can confront him and decry her false charges and claim innocence, stating she was merely trying to help her sire a boy. This is exactly what happened, so when Lady Sun went to Zhong Yao to claim Lady Zhang was a liar, he was puzzled. Lady Zhang never came to him yet Lady Sun called her a liar. He was furthermore incensed that she would lie about wanting to help her have a boy by having to sneak this potion into her food. When Zhong Yao questioned Lady Zhang about this, she told him why she remained silent and he commended her brilliance. Soon after Lady Sun was divorced and sent home, and instead a Lady from the Jia Clan 賈氏 was made Zhong Yao’s wife.[7]

Following this the Wei Shi Chunqiu 魏氏春秋 records that a rumor circulated that Empress Dowager Bian 卞太后 heard that states Zhong Yao only divorced Lady Sun due to favoring Lady Zhang, and she wished to inquire about this. She spoke with her son Wei Gaozu 高祖, Cao Pi 曹丕, and he summoned Zhong Yao to question him on the matter. Yao was enraged at this invasion of his personal life and attempted to take his own life, yet failed. Instead he consumed a spice that he presumably had an allergic reaction to and became unable to speak, and thus Gaozu no longer questioned him.

魏氏春秋 :會母見寵於繇,繇為之出其夫人。卞太后以為言,文帝詔繇復之。繇恚憤,將引鴆,弗獲,餐椒致噤,帝乃止。[8]

We know that going by Zhong Hui’s own account that the rumor the Wei Shi Chunqiu refers to is false. Zhong Yao’s extreme reaction as well seems unfitting of a man of his age, and particularly with how greatly he was admired by Wei Gaozu. Overall this second account is simply rather odd but it is included none-the-less as it may fuel into this perspective I wish to show you.

Zhong Yu had the manner of his father and from the young age of fourteen he held rank under Wei Taizu 太祖, Cao Cao 曹操. Taizu’s regime was not prone to nepotism and for Zhong Yu to hold rank at such a young age certainly shines a favorable light on his ability.[9] Given the twenty year difference between the two this meant the Elder had a start on his career well before the Younger was born. This gives us notable events such as Zhong Yu speaking out against Wei Leizu’s 烈祖 various construction plans, as well as his desire to march west to Chang'an 長安 to personally oversee the affairs against Han 漢 Chancellor 丞相 Zhuge Liang 諸葛亮. Likewise during the Zhengshi Era 正始 (240-249) he as well had a falling out with General-In-Chief Cao Shuang’s faction, and because of it his rank suffered.[10] We can see from these instances that the earlier Zhong, while arriving in office early and sharing qualities of his father, met a roadblock in his career when it came to his dealings with the Cao family themselves.

Zhong Hui, born twenty years after, was dotted on by both his mother and father until Yao’s passing in 230. He earned early acceptance in the Imperial Academy and found a position in the regime of General-In-Chief 大將軍 Cao Shuang’s 曹爽 regime in the Imperial Palace Library, personally recruited by Director of Personnel 吏部尚書 He Yan 何晏.[11] During the Zhengshi Era he was a prominent youthful scholar who earned the respect of many, and none but Wang Bi 王弼 could best him intellectually.[12] Unlike his elder brother, Zhong Hui faired well for himself under the General-In-Chief’s regime. So much so that when the 249 rebellion of Jin Xuan-di 宣帝 , Sima Yi 司馬懿, came while the Young Emperor 魏少帝 was away from the capital of Luoyang 洛阳市 with the General-In-Chief visiting Gaoping Tombs 高平陵, Zhong Hui was at the side of the Emperor and away from the dangers of the Imperial City and the rebellion featuring Heavy Infantry. During this time the Zhong family resided in the capital city and Lady Zhang was with them, and she was visited by Wei Guan 衛瓘, Liu Fang 劉放 and Xiahou He 夏侯和 who all were terrified about this rebellion, yet she was not phased. She remarked that the General-In-Chief’s extravagance brought this on, and that with heavily armed soldiers it wouldn’t last long. When asked of her concern for her son she simply stated the safest place at the side of the Emperor. She was entirely right and the affair was bloodless, initially, as the General-In-Chief surrendered. Her son was unharmed though he held no great position until presumably after Jin Xian-di passed in 252.

As we can see both sons had relatively differing career paths. Zhong Yu began under the Cao yet it was the very same Cao he had a poor relationship with, and as a result he had his career stifled. Hui on the other hand began under the Cao and flourished until the Sima usurped authority seized the Son of Heaven by the neck. However there is some mimicking of this with their father. Howard L. Goodman makes note that Zhong Yao was a remarkably field commander for Wei Taizu, yet there came a time in which he stopped being utilized. Furthermore there was the Wei Feng 魏諷 incident, in which Zhong Yao recruited a man name Wei Feng who eventually revolted and failed, resulting in Zhong Yao’s removal from office until Wei Taizu died and Wei Gaozu took over, effectively halting his career for several years. He would not even return to prominence until Han was abolished and Wei was established, serving as an Excellency and later under Wei Leizu as Grand Tutor 太傅, yet at this time he was a man at the end of his life and could accomplish nothing else remarkable.[14]

Therefor we see that three Zhong, two generations and one with a twenty year gap in it, met with disaster that halted their careers while tied to the Cao. This was when a shift in the Zhong’s allegiance, and the individual policies came into effect. Both Zhong Yu and Zhong Hui would each receive appointment under the Sima. Zhong Yu’s career saw him serve as Minister of Justice 廷尉, forging the confession of Xiahou Xuan 夏侯玄 following his involvement in the plot to assassinate Jin Jing-di 景帝, Sima Shi 司馬師, though he was teary eyed and showed great respect to Xuan. He saw various Inspector and General posts all the way until his death in the Winter of 264.[15]

Zhong Hui would eventually come into the employ of Jing-di as a intimate aide, eventually becoming Gentleman of the Yellow Gate 黃門侍郎 following his role in suppressing the 255 rebellion of Guanqiu Jian 毌丘儉 and Wen Qin 文欽 until he saw his service shift to Jin Wen-di after Jin Jing-di passed away. However Zhong Hui stepped away from office following the death of his mother in 257 to practice filial mourning, yet during this time Jin Wen-di prompted Excellency Zhuge to revolt by appointing him as Excellency of Works 司空 in order to pull him from his power base. Zhong Hui returned from filial mourning early to warn of this eventual rebellion, yet Jin Wen-di remarked it was not worth recall the envoy. The subsequent rebellion occured and Zhong Hui’s contributions were so significant the people of the time remarked that he was Jin Wen-di’s own Zhang Liang, Han Gaozu’s esteemed Advisor. Following this his trust and authority became supreme, and he was appointed Colonel-Director of Retainers 司隷校尉 with his hands in all state matters despite not serving in court. Eventually he debated and successfully launched a conquest of the rival Han claimant state in the West in 263, conquering them in 264. For his efforts he was appointed as Excellency Over the Masses 司徒, a relatively hollow appointment at this time, though before he would ever accept this post he was provoked into early rebellion in March where he declared himself Governor of Yizhou and died following a mutiny.[16]

Now we can get to the question posed earlier: Why would Zhong Yu betray his brother? There are several reasons that I believe all add up with one another.

They were not of the same mother, and their mothers quarreled. Zhong Yu can easily believe that his mother was thrown aside for Lady Zhang, like the Wei Shi Chunqiu rumor suggests, and thus he can come to harbor resentment. However Zhong Hui’s own writings contradict this as not only is the reason for the divorce of Zhong Yu’s mother recorded, but he is later described as meeting with both Zhong Hui and Lady Zhang with a meeting that wasn’t hostile. Could there still have been some family issues? Perhaps there were. The Shishuo Xinyu records several anecdotes on the two brothers being differing in character, such as Zhong Hui stealing a sip of wine from his brother, the sweating anecdote and the theft of Xun Xu’s sword. The probability of the first two are not likely at all. The third is impossible to disprove, though there is another version of the story that involves a woman that isn’t Lady Zhong, the sister to Yu and Hui. There is also the differing takes on Xiahou Xuan. When Xuan was imprisoned, Yu was respectful and remorseful, whereas Zhong Hui openly mocks him. The story, however, is not likely as pointed out by Pei Songzhi in a commentary to Xiahou Xuan’s Sanguozhi biography.[17]

Zhong Hui’s ambition was a risky gamble for the Zhong family, and Yu had seen three careers stifled due to the reliance on the Cao. To him, the safest gamble is to throw his lot in with the Sima who had supreme gentry support at the time. Should he not warn Jin Wen-di, then when Zhong Hui revolts it means his family is exterminated entirely. It is not even as if one can describe Zhong Yu as a coward for not taking this gamble. He was openly critical of an Emperor on multiple occasions, and openly opposed another regime. Neither of those are the acts of a coward. What they were was a man who thought he knew what was best for his family. The Sima had supreme authority in Wei and their usurpation was coming ever closer. The State of Wu in the southeast was in shambles due to incompetent rulers and regents, while Han in the west made constant sallies north with no real success in the end. The Cao family was locked in a single city apart from the Emperor. All the Sima had to do was simply take the mandate for themselves, and the Zhong could be there at their side to benefit. Should Zhong Hui revolt, at least he only dooms himself. Zhong Yu saves the rest of the family.

From Zhong Yu’s perspective, to keep himself and his clan alive it would be best to be their ally. After all, at the end of his life Zhong Yu was 65 years old. He was not a young man. He was securing the future generations to come. It was also saving that of their cousin Zhong Shao and his sons. Because of Zhong Yu’s betrayal of his brother, the Zhong family survived well past the Six Dynasties period. Much like Goodman argues for Yao and Hui, and I echo his belief, Zhong Yu’s actions were taken entirely to preserve the clan after it had fallen on tough times under the Cao. He may have perished before Hui ever revolted but that act saved lives. Many, many lives. One sad fact to look at however, is that in one single year the second male generation of Zhong Yao was exterminated leaving only a daughter left in this world. Her view point is a sad one. She would receive news from Jingzhou that her eldest brother perishes in his 60s, and several months later the news of her younger brother’s revolt and death would reach her. Within such a short time this innocent woman knew too much disaster after already losing her husband many years before, now two brother’s and two nephews were dead. Truly the Zhong met much tragedy during this time period, and they would continue to do so. Yet the clan endured.

[1] Achilles Fang’s translation as attatched to the Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms
[2] Achilles Fang’s Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[3] Three States Records, Chen Shou, Zhong Yu’s sub Sanguozhi
[4] Achilles Fang’s Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[5] Achilles Fang, Xi Zuochi, Han Jin Chunqiu
[6] Howard L. Goodman, The Calligrapher Chung Yu (ca. 163-230) and the Demographics of a Myth
[7] Zhong Hui, Mu furen Zhangshi zhuan
[8] Sun Sheng, Wei Shi Chunqiu
[9] Gongjin’s Campaign Memorials, Zhong Hui, Mu furen Zhangshi zhuan
[10] Three States Records, Chen Shou, Zhong Yu’s sub Sanguozhi
[11] Achilles Fang, Chen Shou, Zhong Hui’s Sanguozhi
[12] Rudalf G. Wagner, He Shao, Wang Bi Biezhuan
[13] Zhong Hui, Mu furen Zhangshi zhuan
[14] Howard L. Goodman, The Calligrapher Chung Yu (ca. 163-230) and the Demographics of a Myth
[15] Three States Records, Chen Shou, Zhong Yu’s sub Sanguozhi
[16] Chen Shou, Zhong Hui’s Sanguozhi
[17] Three States Records, Chen Shou, Xiahou Xuan’s Sanguozhi