Cao Cao, the keystone of the Three Kingdoms?

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Cao Cao, the keystone of the Three Kingdoms?

Unread postby animetayl » Thu May 29, 2003 5:02 am

*Before you continue, please note that I am referring to SGYY for this topic, regardless of what actual history records.*

Luo Guanzhong, though portraying Cao Cao as a villain in SGYY, I believe he made him a key figure in the Three Kingdoms era.
He is known as a 'Hero of Chaos', but it seems to me that when Cao Cao died, it created more chaos then when he reigned as King. Cao Cao, in my opinion, gave order to northern China, and his death (and the ascent of Cao Pi to the title of Emperor) led to the collapse of the Three Kingdoms.

Cao Cao died about 1/3 of the way into the third book of SGYY. I would say that in a period of a couple of years after Cao Cao died, many of the important generals and historic figures of China were dead.
The ones who perished shortly after Cao Cao died:
Yu Jin
Xiahou Dun
Zhang Fei
Liu Bei
Gan Ning
Pan Zhang
Huang Zhong

Liu Bei destroyed himself from grief of his brothers and his total negligence of the greater cause, which was Cao Pi in the north. The death of Cao Cao gave Liu Bei a confidence that he never should have had. Wasting hundreds of thousands of Shu soldiers on the attack of the southland brought ruin to Shu. Liu Bei was a changed man after the death of Guan Yu, and became foolish and reckless. Perhaps with Cao Cao still a threat in the north, Liu Bei may never have attempted the war on the Southland.
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Unread postby Mr. Counsellor » Thu May 29, 2003 8:33 am

I'd have to agree with that.

Cao Cao, though I strongly disagree with some of his methods was the only man capable of conquering all of China (skill, officers, military and resources-wise). However, I don't think he's the perfect man to rule. Cao Cao rules with order-through-fear. If he did unite all of China, rebellions and assassination attempts would be sort of a monthly affair.

Though Shu was the weakest kingdom (men-material-and-territory-wise), Liu Bei knew how to treat people with kindness and equality, and his noble quest endeared to many of us. I remember in the novel that there was a thought about Cao Cao and Liu Bei sharing their power. I thought that would've been the best course of events.

Anything that would prevent Jin from uniting China would be better...
i sometimes put a carton of milk in the dryer so that there's an equal distribution of the force shaking it. Tastes like lint though...
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Unread postby animetayl » Thu May 29, 2003 11:11 am

Richter13 wrote:Though Shu was the weakest kingdom (men-material-and-territory-wise), Liu Bei knew how to treat people with kindness and equality, and his noble quest endeared to many of us. I remember in the novel that there was a thought about Cao Cao and Liu Bei sharing their power. I thought that would've been the best course of events.


I would certainly disagree with Liu Bei as ruler. Ever. After the death of Guan Yu, I believe he turned far more vicious than Cao Cao ever was. Cao Cao wanted the Southland to surrender to him. Liu Bei wanted the whole of the Southland to perish. Liu Bei refused to listen to the good advice of his advisors and generals (they all begged him to reconsider the war against the Southland). Zhuge Liang had to rescue Qin Mi from execution because Qin Mi told Liu Bei that he forsaw disaster from the expedition. The disaster was brought about by Liu Bei himself when he decided to camp within the woods and spread himself out. Many told him that that was asking for defeat, but he scorned all warnings.
Thus, because of Liu Bei's selfish desire for revenge, the majority of 700,000 people lost their lives. And, Guan Yu's death would have never come to pass the way it did, if Liu Bei had just given the Southland's Jing Zhou(?) province back, the way he said he was going to but never did.
The way I see it, the Southland was generous enough to let Liu Bei borrow their province when he was still wandering, and made sure that Liu Bei swore to give it back when he established himself. Liu Bei never repaid their kindness with anything. Not ever.

If I had my say, the land should have been united under Sun Quan. He always knew how to treat men honorably.
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Unread postby Jon » Thu May 29, 2003 1:48 pm

I agree. Liu Bei turned utterly vicious after Guan Yu's death. He foolishly let one man's death cause almost 700,000 people's death, and I know the other rulers made mistakes too, but did it cost them almost 700,000 people? I also agree Sun Quan is better than the other 2. But I think Sun Ce could have united the land if he lived longer, or become chief military commander while Sun Quan became the actual ruler.
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Unread postby Dalton Imperial » Thu May 29, 2003 3:50 pm

Though this seems to have become a Liu Bei Bashing Contest (which I wholeheartedly support), the issue is Cao Cao. Cao Cao unified Northern China and put down any little rebellions that started (like Ma Teng) and was a very capable ruler and probably would have unified China if not for fear of Zhuge Liang and ambushes by the South. However, I don't think that Cao Cao's presence would have prevented Liu Bei from throwing away 700,000 lives against the Southland because he was blinded by his oath of brotherhood. He left Zhuge Liang behind in the Riverlands and was thoroughly routed. Cao Cao might have been more likely to try to take over the Riverlands while Liu Bei was gone, but he more than likely would have swept behind Liu Bei, eliminated the Shu forces, and then took over the weakened Southlands. Although it didn't get as chaotic as Dong Zhuo, Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, Gongsun Zan, Liu Bei, Sun Ce, and Cao Cao vying for power, it did get more chaotic once Cao Cao died. I'm trying to think of the right way to say this, but Cao Cao was fairly conservative (as in he wouldn't put himself in a dangerous situation) and didn't rush into battle with a full head of steam unless he was virtually sure he would win. Plus, Shu and Wu had to respect the strength of Cao's army, officers, and strategists and were both unwilling to challenge the "Master of Chaos." Once Cao Cao died, both Shu and Wu got more confident and war-like, leading to more chaos and death than when Cao Cao was alive.
"Now, what defines a hero is this: a determination to conquer, a mine of marvelous schemes, an ability to encompass the realm, and the will to make it his." Cao Cao to Liu Bei
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Unread postby Mr. Counsellor » Thu May 29, 2003 4:50 pm

Liu Bei loved the people and the people loved him. I'm sure Sun Quan also has some support but his is of a lesser degree.
As for Liu Bei's rash decision to attack Wu, I wouldn't happen if it weren't for Guan Yu's death. And since I'm assuming that Guan Yu did not die, then Liu Bei would make the better ruler.
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Sun Quan, but the guy is arrogant 24/7. He doesn't know how to see inwards to a person's talent. Also he may boast of his and his kingdoms strength, but he quailed at the last moment.
i sometimes put a carton of milk in the dryer so that there's an equal distribution of the force shaking it. Tastes like lint though...
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Unread postby timon » Thu May 29, 2003 5:52 pm

i think the quasi-chaos that ensued after cao cao's death shows how superficial his hold is in his side of the kingdom ... take the death of sun jian which was the total opposite of what happened to cao cao's ... wu strengthened as a response to his death.

i guess it was just the lack of "strong" heirs that divided the kingdoms all the more. the classic case would be shu ... if not for kongming, shu would have been annihilated the moment liu bei died.
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Unread postby Mr. Counsellor » Thu May 29, 2003 6:06 pm

i think the quasi-chaos that ensued after cao cao's death shows how superficial his hold is in his side of the kingdom ... take the death of sun jian which was the total opposite of what happened to cao cao's ... wu strengthened as a response to his death.

i guess it was just the lack of "strong" heirs that divided the kingdoms all the more. the classic case would be shu ... if not for kongming, shu would have been annihilated the moment liu bei died.



True, true... Thank God for Kongming...

Then again I don't think Sun Jian had much of an impact to the strengthening of Wu. Sure he had the hereditary seal and all, and his reputation laid the foundation for his sons future but all in all, Wu was strengthened by Sun Ce. His expeditions gave Wu territory and thus came power.
i sometimes put a carton of milk in the dryer so that there's an equal distribution of the force shaking it. Tastes like lint though...
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Unread postby jiuwan » Fri May 30, 2003 4:05 am

animetayl wrote:After the death of Guan Yu, I believe he turned far more vicious than Cao Cao ever was.


So much Liu Bei bashing... where's Cao Cao's share?

<b>Cao Cao's atrocities far out weighs Liu Bei.</b>

The only instance anyone provided so far is Liu Bei's defeat at Yi Ling. The novel listed the Shu army as being 700,000. But not every single one of them died by Lu Xun's hands. Now bear in mind these casualties are all part of the army. Death is something that will happen to each and everyone of these soldiers at some point in their military career. You can not blame it solely on Liu Bei's part. The soldiers were trained to deal with it.

Now Cao Cao had more heinous crimes to his belt. I'm not even going to list them all here. I'll just mention some of them.

First off there was an assassinination attempt. When he caught the perpetrator, he had him brutually interrogated and causing bodily harm.

Second, on his flight after the failed Dong Zhuo assassination attempt, he was fleeing with Chen Gong. Staying at Lu Bo She's (I think that's how you spell his name) place, he murdered his host's entire family.

Third, upon the news of his father Cao Song's death, Cao Cao bent upon vengenance, set out to destryo Xu Zhou and Tao Qian. <b>Innocent</b> people were brutually killed, village plundered, dogs, chickens, nothing living was left alive. All were killed. The slaughter of innocents totalled over 100,000 (10,000 in another source forgot which one LGZ used). The slaughter of innocent civilians is way worse then any number of deaths of army personnel and soldiers. Because soldiers can defend their lives, innocent civilians can not. Plain and simple.

Fouth, Cao Cao did not like Bian Rang of Chen Liu so he slaughtered him and his entire clan in cold blood.

Fifth, the entire clans of Yuan Zhong and Huan Zhao of Pei were slaughtered after Bian Rang.

Sixth, one of Cao Cao's concubines didn't wake him up because she had seen him sleeping peacefully. When he woke up, he beat her to death.

Seventh, during one of his campaigns there was a shortage of food supplies. Cao Cao instructed the person in charge to give out smaller portions. A mutiny occurred in the army. Cao Cao blamed the person in charge and executed him.

Eighth, an eunuch of Han Ling Di was walking outside during a curfew, Cao Cao beated him to death for it.

Ninth, Cao Cao attacked Yongqiu for several months and massacred the city. He also killed Zhang Miao's brother, Zhang Chao, as well as his entire family.

Tenth, on his attack on Lu Bu, Cao Cao massacred Pengcheng, which was masscred only a few years earlier by Cao Cao himself.

Elevnth, after the defeat of Yuan Shao, Cao Cao buried alive 80,000 surrendered soldiers of Yuan Shao.

Twelveth, after the failed attempt of assassination by Dong Cheng and others, Cao Cao executed the entire families of Dong Cheng, Zhong Ji, Wu Zilan, Wang Zifu, and others

Thirteenth, Cao Cao sent Xiahou Yuan to attack Song Jian where he massacred the city of Paohan.

Fourteenth, Cao Cao massacred the city of the Hun king, Dou Mao.

Fifthteen, Cao Cao ordered Cao Ren to attack Wan who massacred the city.

Sixteenth, another assassination attempt, this time by Empress Fu. Cao Cao executed Empress Fu, her two brothers, and Fu Wan's entire clan numbered several hundred people.

Seventeenth, Cao Cao had made a rule to his army, that if anyone stepped on the grass (of this field they were passing through on their march, a long story) that person's head would be cut off. Cao Cao fell off his horse when it got spooked by a snake, and landed right in the field. Instead of obeying his own rule, he cut off a strand of his hair instead of his own head. A double standard. Anyone could be killed except for himself.

That's all I can think of for the time being. Do you want me to scrounge through the novel to find more? I don't even have to, and Liu Bei's list will not be as long as Cao Cao's list.
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Unread postby animetayl » Fri May 30, 2003 4:07 am

Whenever a king, or someone of such power dies, their land is always frail when a new heir is introduced.
My argument is that Cao Cao held the Riverlands and the Southland at bay, because both were in fear of his army, and didn't want to provoke an attack, thus creating peace. Cao Cao also was wise in his decisions to wage wars. He never battled unless there was a good likelihood he would win, and he was willing to bide his time until the right time to strike surfaced.

Now, take Cao Pi, who ascended to the title of Emperor almost immediately after his coming into power. This did not go over very well with the people of his own land, let alone the others. Then, right after, he began warring against the two other kingdoms. It is not a matter of who's clan is in power, it is a matter of who the ruler is. Like Yuan Shao's sons, Cao Pi was guilty of sibling rivalry, which led to internal struggles. Thus, Cao Pi couldn't even keep his own land stable, while constantly sending armies against the Riverlands and the Southland, the whole of China turned chaotic. Cao Cao created order, and Cao Pi destroyed it.

...I won't go into the discussion of Liu Shan. Everyone knows that Shu would have fallen apart if Kongming wasn't there.
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