Zhuge Liang - Really Shu's strategist?

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Zhuge Liang - Really Shu's strategist?

Unread postby Zhou Yu » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:06 am

Everyone, my friend and I have discovered quite an unexpected revelation while reading the Notes in the back of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel [translation by Moss Roberts]. Apparently, Zhuge Liang was not really a good strategist at all in real life. He was an excellent politician and government official, and he was an extremely good Prime Minister, but according to official commentary, he was not really Shu's strategist. An unnamed, less-famous individual apparently was the devisor behind all of the excellent ploys that the Shu army carried out, and Zhuge Liang was given the credit in the history books, probably without his knowledge. This would greatly explain why Zhuge Liang's "Mastering the Art of War" is mostly pertaining to political and governmental affairs. My friend first discovered this and then later pointed it out to me.

Now, I assure you, I am not making this up. I realize that by naming myself "Zhou Yu" and having Zhou Yu as my favorite character in both the novel and the DW games will make most of you think this is utter crap that I made up using my biased opinions, but I assure you I did not. This is simply something me and a friend discovered, and were quite shocked at (and, I will admit, a little bit entertained by). Discuss and debate this as much as you wish, but please do not take this to offense or retaliate harshly. I would love to hear opinions on the matter, but do not be hostile. Thank you in advance, and if anyone can get proof that this is true or false, I would be greatly appreciative.
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Unread postby animetayl » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:15 am

Actually, I would believe it. Many characters are glorified in SGYY, who really didn't do all the incredible things we read about. With Zhuge Liang, it's no exception. I can imagine that he was a very smart man, but I doubt that anyone could be that smart.
This is an unbiased opinion, although I really do like Zhou Yu the best as well. :wink:
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Unread postby Cherry_Blossom » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:27 am

Everyone, my friend and I have discovered quite an unexpected revelation while reading the Notes in the back of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel [translation by Moss Roberts]. Apparently, Zhuge Liang was not really a good strategist at all in real life. He was an excellent politician and government official, and he was an extremely good Prime Minister, but according to official commentary, he was not really Shu's strategist. An unnamed, less-famous individual apparently was the devisor behind all of the excellent ploys that the Shu army carried out, and Zhuge Liang was given the credit in the history books, probably without his knowledge. This would greatly explain why Zhuge Liang's "Mastering the Art of War" is mostly pertaining to political and governmental affairs. My friend first discovered this and then later pointed it out to me.


Could you say where you found the information in the book so the rest of us could take a look at it? That would help for people to comment for themselves on how they interpret them.

Also isn't it known that his wife was smart and came up with some of the strategies herself? Perhaps between the two of them they created strategies and governing policies. And wasn't it true that he came up with the stone warrior fromation or eight something warrior formation? I don't remember what they called it but I do remember he supposedly used it. Actually to correct myself I think it hailed from Sun Tzu or his time and Zhuge at least was smart enough to know how to use it. Or am I wrong?
Oh and I thought he created the arablast and wheelbarrow? Those aren't strategies but as long as this discussion pertains to him and his abilities maybe someone can clear that up for me.

Anyway this shall be an interesting topic to keep an eye on. :wink:
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Unread postby Lu Xun (Boyan) » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:50 am

Well, im the friend Zhou was speaking of and i happen to have the exact quote from the afterward to which this topic is referring:


"Chen Shou had the highest regard for Kongming the statesman and prime minister of Shu-Han, though he mentions that field tactics were not his forte...Nevertheless, the historical Kongming is not without his faults and limitations, as we shall see...twentieth-century writer Lu Xun's remarks that Luo Guanzhong's Kongming is a man of 'much wisdom though verging on wizardry' ...The Li edition's gravest charge against Kongming is that he plotted to usurp the Shu-Han kingdom and thus acted the part of a traitor, like Cao Cao...This "Li" edition's comentar in chaper 80 says 'Underneath, Cao Cao and Kongming are one of a kind if different in style'...The Shu-Han campaigns against the Wei dynasty - Kongming's 'si offensives from the Qishan hills,' followed by Jiang Wei's 'nine offensives against the heartland' - are treated a little more critically in the TS than in the Mao edition. The SGZ records no full-scale debate in the Riverlands on the pros and cons of waging war against the Wei dynasty, only traces of discontent with the policy. The TS retains more of these traces, whereas the Mao edition removes all of them..."


This is quoted from a section in the Afterward to Three Kingdoms by Moss Roberts entitled Kongming in Mao Zonggang's Edition.
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Unread postby Zhou Yu » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:52 am

I believe that Zhuge Liang's wife was known to be smart, but I don't believe she formulated military strategies. Women were usually not allowed to hold such power, and if Zhuge Liang did work with her I'm pretty sure if she was the creator of all those strategies he would let it be known somehow. And the Stone Warrior formation was said to having moving walls made of rock. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but have you ever seen walls of rock move without machinery helping it? I believe it was simply a "fable element" Luo implemented into the novel, as he does several times (for instance, the magical powers of the Yellow Turban Rebellion general Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang).

And while he might have designed the Arbalest and Wheelbarrow, that does not pertain to military strategy anyways. He never fully realized the Arbalest's plan though, I believe Jiang Wei perfected the design. As for the information quoted out of the book, I believe Lu Xun has taken care of that for me. ^_^
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Unread postby Lu Xun (Boyan) » Fri Jun 06, 2003 5:58 am

In regards to the wheelbarrow, im pretty sure that was attributed to Shen-Nung - one of the three mythological emperors, he being the one who taught men the art of agriculture.
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Unread postby Cherry_Blossom » Fri Jun 06, 2003 6:24 am

Thanks for posting the info. :)

Actually I meant when talking about the formation was not the one with moving rocks and that.. I was thinking of the one where the soldiers formed themselves somehow into an impenatrable position. It was hard/impossible to break them up or to get out without being ambushed.I think it was the eight types of positions you were supposed to use to make this big formation..I think read something about it in the Art of War too. (I just can't think of the correct name.) I may be wrong though that perhaps it was Jiang Wei vs Sima Yi that this occured..I know LGZ made some things up in his novel and all to make it more colorful. :D

The wheelbarrow I was kind of curious for myself..they attributed it seemed like a lot of things to him and I was wondering just how much is fact that we know for sure.And while it isn't strategic it does give some idea on how he thought and how it effected things militarily. (With the arablast and the fact it was meant to be a military weapon. ) By the way isn't he also credited with creating an automatic crossbow? Or am I thinking of another term for the arablast?

I believe that Zhuge Liang's wife was known to be smart, but I don't believe she formulated military strategies. Women were usually not allowed to hold such power, and if Zhuge Liang did work with her I'm pretty sure if she was the creator of all those strategies he would let it be known somehow.


I have to admit I kind of like the idea about his wife I have. Women did not necessarily hold such power though in some cases there were female queens without kings and other powerful women and societies led by women and/pr powerful female figures..it's not hard to imagine China having a strong intelligent woman do some wonderful things for it. :wink: Besides if as you suggested Zhuge Liang did not know the credit was being given to him :
and Zhuge Liang was given the credit in the history books, probably without his knowledge.
That could explain why he could not give credit where credit was due. Either way now I am a bit curious to see what other people come up with and what we all can find out. I have to say I find it hard to imagine Zhuge Liang trying to usurp the Shu-Han empire...I thought he was a cool individual and all but am not really partial to any one kingdom but the idea of him being a usurper seems hard to believe.

I wonder if we could figure out who the possible strategist could have been if Zhuge Liang wasn't it. If he did go out on the campaigns though I would think either he had the utmost faith in this strategist and took them along for help or he just trusted them that much with their plan or he did know something of field fighting and actually handled it himself or took the chance of improvising in case of something going wrong. (Not to say they didn't formulate backup plans in case either but it does seem rather risky for him to go out if he is mostly a political figure.)...one must wonder how he did get such a reputation if he wasn't that good.
Short version of a quote by Thales:
Of all things;God = most ancient;he is uncreated,Universe=most beautiful;God's work,Space=greatest;holds all,Swiftest=mind;speeds
everywhere,Strongest=necessity;masters all,Wisest=time; brings all things to light
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Unread postby SoSZ Patch 0506C » Fri Jun 06, 2003 10:05 am

While we all kone that Kongming was not as good as stated in the book, to go on and say that Kongming was a idiot when it came to war is a bit out there. This is a guy whom was celebrated by poets, emperors and other generals even before the novel was written. Heck, if he that much of a fraud, no one would repsect him today, as the truth about this guy would've come out a long time ago. I'd amount a lot of those accusations against Kongming was a lot of speculation and conspiracy theories.
And can someone tell me where this idea of Kongming's wife all came from?
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Unread postby Sam » Fri Jun 06, 2003 10:33 am

Welcome to the real world. People have been debating this issue since the Three Kingdoms community first started, and it can be seen that Kongming’s historical accomplishments were nowhere near as impressive as that in SGYY through SGZ biographies. Kongming did jack military wise until after Xuande's death, and even after that, his accomplishments didn't show him to be one of the best strategists of the era. My opinion of him is that he isn't a bad military strategist, but he certainly isn't the greatest.
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Unread postby waynethegame » Fri Jun 06, 2003 1:06 pm

The_Phat_One wrote:Heck, if he that much of a fraud, no one would repsect him today, as the truth about this guy would've come out a long time ago.


Maybe, maybe not. I mean, isn't Guan Yu worshipped as a god based mostly on his SGYY accomplishments, despite the proven fact that he wasn't that good in history?

I don't think anyone is doubting that Zhuge Liang was (for the most part) a genius for his time period. It's just that he wasn't a godlike strategist who could predict the future and perform magic tricks as the novel makes him out to be.
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