Zhuge Liang overrated

Join the Romance of the Three Kingdoms discussion with our resident Scholars. Topics relating to the novel and history are both welcome. Don't forget to check the Forum Rules before posting.
Kongming’s Archives: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms Officer Biographies
Three Kingdoms Officer Encyclopedia
Scholars of Shen Zhou Search Tool

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby Iain » Mon Jan 16, 2017 1:09 am

I wouldn't worry about old posts of yours, very few people come here at the start seeming totally knowledgeable I do know that this community helps us all understand better and I am sure we all leave knowing more and have a greater understanding of the 3k period. I do enjoy reading the various opinions of all the members here, I may not agree with them all but I do find information often I may not know myself.

And Hussam I do enjoy reading your posts, you are indeed a fine addition to the many other viewpoints within these pages. :)
User avatar
Iain
Lord of Nanchang
 
Posts: 4753
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 7:55 am
Location: Lost in the fun world of Vana'diel.

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby LiuBeiwasGreat » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:33 pm

Yeah looking over old posts can be a bit depressing. In this forum and others I have posted things that make me want to hide in embarrassment, the key is to understand that you didn't know as much back then and you have continued on your learning experience :)
"If you can't drink a lobbyist's whiskey, take his money, sleep with his women and still vote against him in the morning, you don't belong in politics."
LiuBeiwasGreat
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 2479
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2004 4:13 pm
Location: Raleigh, NC

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby Jordan » Tue Jan 17, 2017 2:17 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Indeed, his Meng Da camapign was bold and decisive as were his camapigns against Wu Zhang. It is hard to know quite what went wrong, that he kept losing the skirmishes, when he became CiC, given lack of detail.


I'm still not sure if Sima Yi even lost battles to Zhuge Liang.

The only clear detail that we know is that Zhuge Liang ambushed and killed Zhang He at Mumen. Whoever the commanding officers were in Wei at the time clearly made a mistake there as Zhang He was killed along with his army. Presumably that was a loss of a significant number of men, supplies and equipment not to mention one of Wei's best officers.

We also know that Chen Shi (iirc) took a few commanderies from Wei during one campaign. This was a minor net gain but at least it was something.

Otherwise as far as I'm aware the sources are very conflicted as far as Zhuge Liang's campaigns vs. Sima Yi. The Han Jin Chunqiu seems to indicate that he fared well during the Third and maybe Fourth Campaigns. The HJCQ though is written with a certain obvious bias. On the other hand, I also do not think Chen Shou was free from bias as he wrote the SGZ. It would have probably been embarrassing to write an official history of the Jin dynasty and talk about possible blunders made by the dynasty's progenitor. It's possible that Zhuge Liang did beat Sima Yi in a few minor battles and that there were records stating as much, but for various reasons some historians of the Jin refrained from mentioning it.

The sources are so conflicted that I honestly don't know anymore. I used to like Killigrew's article on The Northern Campaigns but I feel now that the article is too light on historiography. It often gives Zhuge Liang credit for whatever is mentioned in the historical sources without analyzing the merits and contradictions of the sources themselves. Killigrew's article does not address the fact that even Pei Songzhi found many things in the HJCQ in error or contradictory with other sources (though decided to cite it often anyways). It's plausible that some parts of the HJCQ are erroneous or rely on bad information while other parts are accurate. It's also possible that much of it is a fabrication and that Zhuge Liang's only real victories were the ones at Mumen and by Chen Shi and Wei Yan.

I really wish I could read Classical Mandarin and could examine the sources directly. Even then though, I still feel like it's difficult to assess the validity of Chinese sources. Achilles Fang mentioned in one note of the Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms that Chinese sources should often be taken with a certain grain of salt. I'm very skeptical about Zhuge Liang winning great victories against Sima Yi considering that they evidently did not have any lasting effect. Of course it's still possible that he did, but to me the sources are too unclear.
User avatar
Jordan
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 5884
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 4:52 am

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jan 18, 2017 12:16 pm

It was more, if they did win, Wei Yan won a few skirmishes (rather then Liang himself) plus the Zhang He loss. Nothing (bar that ambush) Wei would worry too much about it, loss of small advantages and troops. I find Sima Yi comes across badly compared to Cao Zhen during the NC's, Cao Zhen was proactive and drove Zhuge Liang back, Sima Yi turtled (perfectly legitimate tactic as it is) and while sources conflict over exactly what happened with the dress taunt, Sima Yi does not seem to have inspired overwhelming confidence among his men. Vs the boldness we see from Sima Yi in other camapigns, it is a bit odd.
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
User avatar
Dong Zhou
A-Dou
A-Dou
 
Posts: 14586
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:32 pm
Location: "Now we must die. May Your Majesty maintain yourself"

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:13 am

I do think that Zhuge Liang was overrated (if we believe everything we heard about him, we would think he is god!)

The historical Zhuge Liang was very clever, that is no doubt that, the Shu Kingdom would have never existed without his hands, but as a comander, Zhuge Liang was terrible.
Ok your majesty, now, back to your room!
User avatar
lorindir
Initiate
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: Off screen!

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:00 am

lorindir wrote:The historical Zhuge Liang was very clever, that is no doubt that, the Shu Kingdom would have never existed without his hands, but as a comander, Zhuge Liang was terrible.


Terrible? I think that is unfair. He clearly isn't the military genius that the novel presents him as. However he did make some small gains and fought several times without suffering a severe loss against a far larger kingdom with far more resources. A 'terrible' commander would have been crushed leaving his kingdom exposed and Shu would have been destroyed far earlier.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela
User avatar
Sun Fin
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 6508
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
Location: The birthplace of radio

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby lorindir » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:40 pm

Sun Fin wrote:Terrible? I think that is unfair. He clearly isn't the military genius that the novel presents him as. However he did make some small gains and fought several times without suffering a severe loss against a far larger kingdom with far more resources. A 'terrible' commander would have been crushed leaving his kingdom exposed and Shu would have been destroyed far earlier.


The only victory that the historical Zhuge Liang had was against the rebellion in the south (and he only won because Gao Ding betrayed Yong Kai). Most of his "sucesses" or are taken from other people or aren't really sucesses:

At Chi Bi, Zhou Yu was the commander.
At the invasion of Yi province, Pang Tong was the strategist.
At the invasion of Han Zhong, Fa zheng was the strategist.

When he launched his invasions of the north, his first step was to "take Chang An" (and as history tell us, he never was able to do this). The only merit he had, was to seize a desert province. Most of his early campaigns, he was defeated by Cao Zhen and at the latters, Sima Yi just refused to give battle and he suffered self defeat.
The most interesting part of all this was his complete inability to take Chen Cang from Hao Zhao, he had everything at his favor and even so, he was forced to retreat (due to "lack of suplies", as always). He was not even a decent commander, he was unable to use his men at the right time (see Jie Ting), he allienated his best generals (see Wei Yan), he left some good generals without the opportunity to shine (see Wu Yi) and used unexperienced generals at crucial times (see Zhao Yun, who never had independent command, see Deng Zhi, who haven't military experience at all, and of course Ma Su, who have any acomplishment beside being a "good advisor").
Ok your majesty, now, back to your room!
User avatar
lorindir
Initiate
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: Off screen!

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby DragonAtma » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:09 am

Keep in mind that although all of Zhuge Liang's northern campaigns were losses, none of them were major losses. Yes, they went through a lot of grain, but IIRC manpower losses were limited to 5% or less -- certainly nothing near Cao Shuang's calamity at Xingshi, nor did they have a near-disaster the way Wu did at Xiaoyao Ford.

As for losing officers, keep in mind that (1) Wei Yan mainly was alienated not by Zhuge Liang but by the dispute with Yang Yi, and (2) none of his loss of officers compares to when Sima Yi's bad order caused Zhang He's death.
Unless I specifically say otherwise, assume I am talking about historical Three Kingdoms, and not the novel.
DragonAtma
Scholar of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 917
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:19 pm
Location: Long Island, NY

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:11 am

lorindir wrote:I do think that Zhuge Liang was overrated (if we believe everything we heard about him, we would think he is god!)


The historical Zhuge Liang? I think nothing in his sgz is unbelievable, a clearly highly intelligent and impressive man but with human flaws and weaknesses. Nothing Godlike about him

Novel and culturally? Sure, the man is superhuman and meant to be almost Godlike in his wisdom. The historical Zhuge Liang can't be blamed for that

The historical Zhuge Liang was very clever, that is no doubt that, the Shu Kingdom would have never existed without his hands, but as a comander, Zhuge Liang was terrible.


Shu would have, likely, been founded with Zhuge Liang as much of it was down to Liu Bei. It is more once Shu is founded, Zhuge Liang comes into his own.

As a commander? Nowhere near terrible bar the first NC. A terrible commander would be beaten heavily and often, Zhuge Liang took two towns, killed two Wei generals and kept Wei on the backfoot enough. His inventions, his organization, master of retreat, ability to use officers and understanding of his men made him a good commander, had he been Wei or Wu, that would be enough. He was a good commander, not great by any means, but far from terrible.

What Shu needed was 1) an experienced commander in first NC. Zhuge Liang had one short camapign against barbarians and possibly gained a little expirence in invasion of Yi. Several of the great commanders, including Cao Cao, took some bad defeats during this stage of their careers and Zhuge Liang made some big misjudgements at the time where Wei had been caught with their pants down. They would not get such an opportunity again

2) He lacked boldness. Zhuge Liang was cautoius, this prevented disaster but it also meant Shu was never going to overturn the major odds against them.

The only victory that the historical Zhuge Liang had was against the rebellion in the south (and he only won because Gao Ding betrayed Yong Kai). Most of his "sucesses" or are taken from other people or aren't really sucesses:

At Chi Bi, Zhou Yu was the commander.
At the invasion of Yi province, Pang Tong was the strategist.
At the invasion of Han Zhong, Fa zheng was the strategist.


1) Given Zhuge Liang never had a chance to face Yong Kai, we can't say Liang would only have won becuase of his death. It certainly helped though

2) and that has no reflection on the historical Zhuge Liang. I'm well aware of what the historical Zhuge Liang did and he had credible victories to his name, why should he be hit becuase of the novel Liang's success?
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
User avatar
Dong Zhou
A-Dou
A-Dou
 
Posts: 14586
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:32 pm
Location: "Now we must die. May Your Majesty maintain yourself"

Re: Zhuge Liang overrated

Unread postby lorindir » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:04 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Novel and culturally? Sure, the man is superhuman and meant to be almost Godlike in his wisdom. The historical Zhuge Liang can't be blamed for that


No of course he can't, the point is that he is overrated isn't his fault.

Dong Zhou wrote:As a commander? Nowhere near terrible bar the first NC. A terrible commander would be beaten heavily and often, Zhuge Liang took two towns, killed two Wei generals and kept Wei on the backfoot enough. His inventions, his organization, master of retreat, ability to use officers and understanding of his men made him a good commander, had he been Wei or Wu, that would be enough. He was a good commander, not great by any means, but far from terrible.


His inventions? that is a lot of debate here :mrgreen:
His organization? the phrase "retreat due to lack of supplies comes to mind?"
Master of retreat? LOL
Ability to use officers and understanding of his men? He never had such "ability", the use of his men only limited to his own faction, he was a narcisist bastard who ignored talents in his own ranks because of his ego.
Had he been Wei or Wu? Had been in Wu, his brother would have helped him A LOT to rise in the ranks, in Wei, he would have been a good prefect to a very far away count (he would have been distrusted because that is a Zhuge in Wu, the same kind of distrust that Zhuge Dan lived)

Dong Zhou wrote:What Shu needed was 1) an experienced commander in first NC.


We agree here :o

Dong Zhou wrote:
2) He lacked boldness. Zhuge Liang was cautoius, this prevented disaster but it also meant Shu was never going to overturn the major odds against them.


He know his limits, merit to him, but that don't make him a good commander, if we used this as a factor, one may say that Sun Quan was a good commander too and that is very far from reality.

Dong Zhou wrote:1) Given Zhuge Liang never had a chance to face Yong Kai, we can't say Liang would only have won becuase of his death. It certainly helped though


Yong Kai rebellion lasted YEARS (even before Liu Bei died), so, Zhuge have a lot of info about: "how the enemy fight?" (Zhang Yi had failed to supress the said rebellion, Ma Zhong gained merit fighting them) , "knowledge about the terrain (possibles routes of advance and retreat)". The part "Zhuge Liang never had the chance to face Yong Kai" came down here?

Dong Zhou wrote:2) and that has no reflection on the historical Zhuge Liang. I'm well aware of what the historical Zhuge Liang did and he had credible victories to his name, why should he be hit becuase of the novel Liang's success?


Yes it is!
To find the answer "Zhuge Liang was overrated?" we must look to the historical man and by doing so, we can see that he was a very intelligent man, able and harding work but also, a terrible commander, a egocentric and narcissist character who take the course of history in his own hands (literally, most of what we knew today about Shu comes from his hands!). Had he not being "cautious", he would have shared the fate of Zhuge Ke.

DragonAtma wrote:Keep in mind that although all of Zhuge Liang's northern campaigns were losses, none of them were major losses. Yes, they went through a lot of grain, but IIRC manpower losses were limited to 5% or less -- certainly nothing near Cao Shuang's calamity at Xingshi, nor did they have a near-disaster the way Wu did at Xiaoyao Ford.


Yes, as said before, "he was cautious".
But even a cautious man should have listen more to his officers, he reppeated the same mistake more than once, he took the same road (even knowing that the enemy reinforced it!) and he followed the same mistaken tactic!
About Cao Shuang being a calamity, there is some room for debate there, but that is for another time.

DragonAtma wrote:As for losing officers, keep in mind that (1) Wei Yan mainly was alienated not by Zhuge Liang but by the dispute with Yang Yi, and (2) none of his loss of officers compares to when Sima Yi's bad order caused Zhang He's death.


1- Yang Yi was a member of Zhuge Liang faction, so.....
2 - Agreed here
Ok your majesty, now, back to your room!
User avatar
lorindir
Initiate
 
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:23 pm
Location: Off screen!

PreviousNext

Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved