Romance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 119


The False Surrender: A Wit Scheme Becomes A Vain Plan;
The Abdication: Later Seeds Learns From The Ancient.

Asked to say what was the best plan to secure the arrest of Deng Ai, Jiang Wei said, “Send Wei Guan. If Deng Ai tries to kill Wei Guan, he will manifest the desire of his heart. Then you can destroy him as a traitor.”

Hence Wei Guan was sent, with some thirty men, to effect the arrest.

Wei Guan’s own people saw the danger of the enterprise and urged him not to go, saying, “Zhong Hui clearly wants Deng Ai to kill you to prove his point!”

But Wei Guan said, “Do not worry. I have a scheme prepared.”

Wei Guan first wrote a score or two of letters, all in the same terms, saying:

“Wei Guan has orders to arrest Deng Ai, but no other persons will be dealt with providing they submit quickly. Rewards await those who obey the Imperial Command. However, the punishment for laggards and those who are contumacious will be death to the whole family.”

Wei Guan sent these letters to various officers who were serving under Deng Ai. He also prepared two cage carts.

Wei Guan and his small party reached Chengdu about cockcrow and found waiting for him most of the officers to whom he had written. They at once yielded. Deng Ai was still asleep when the party reached his palace, but Wei Guan entered and forced his way into Deng Ai’s chamber.

He roared out: “I serve the Son of Heaven’s command to arrest Deng Ai and his son!”

The noise awakened the sleeper, who tumbled off his couch in alarm. But before Deng Ai could do anything to defend himself, he was seized, securely bound, and huddled into one of the carts. Deng Ai’s son, Deng Zhong, rushed in at the noise, but was also made prisoner and thrust into the other cart. Many generals and attendants in the Palace want to attempt a rescue, but before they had prepared, they saw dust arose outside, and Zhong Hui with an army was close at hand, thus they scattered.

Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei dismounted at the Palace gates and entered.

Zhong Hui, seeing both the Dengs prisoners, struck the elder about the head and face with his whip and insulted him, saying, “Vile cattle breeder! How dare you have your own scheme?”

Nor was Jiang Wei backward. “You fool! See what your good luck has brought you today!” cried he.

And Deng Ai replied in kind. Zhong Hui at once sent off both the prisoners to Luoyang, and then entered Chengdu in state. He added all Deng Ai’s army to his own forces, so that he became very formidable.

“Today I have attained the one desire of my life!” cried Zhong Hui.

[e] Han Xin was suspected of rebellion and was arrested by Liu Bang. However, Han Xin said, “When the birds have vanished, the good bows are stored.” Liu Bang absolved him due to his merits. But Xiao He and Empress Lu executed him when Liu Bang was absent. …..
[e] After Yue conquered Wu, Fan Li gave up politics and traveled. But his collegue Wen Zhong stayed to continue serving King Gou Jian loyally. Wen Zhong later was put to death due to slanders. Meanwhile, it is said that Fan Li, together with the beauty Xi Shi, had become a wealthy merchant and was doing charity works. …..

[e] Emei Mountain one of the most renowned Buddhist and Daoist (Taoist) sanctuaries in China. The mountain is located in the basin of Sichuan Province. The beautiful majesty of this mountain has caused it to be named Emei, “the most beautiful mountain under heaven”. Visitors of this mountain are treated to several peaks, bubbling springs, cascading waterfalls, tall ancient trees and abundant flowers along the many mountain paths leading to the many scenic spots and temples that dot the mountain side from the base to the summit. …..

Jiang Wei replied, “At the beginning of Han, Han Xin hearkened not to Kuai Tong to establish his own kingdom, and so blundered into trouble at the Weiyang Palace, where he met his fate*. In Yue, High Minister Wen Zhong would not follow Fan Li into retirement on the lakes, and so fell victim to a sword*. No one would say these two—Han Xin and Wen Zhong—were not brilliant, but they did not scent danger early enough. Now, Sir, your merit is great and your prestige overwhelming that of your prince, but why do you risk future dangers? Why not sail off in a boat leaving no trace of your going? Why not go to Emei Mountain* and wander free with Master Red Pine?”

Zhong Hui smiled.

“I do not think your advice much to the point. I am a young man, not forty yet, and think rather of going on than halting. I could not take up a do-nothing hermit’s life.”

“If you do not, then take heed and prepare for dangers. Think out a careful course, as you are well able to do. You need not trouble any old fool for advice.”

Zhong Hui laughed loud and rubbed his hands together with glee.

“How well you know my thoughts, my friend!” said Zhong Hui.

They two became absorbed in the plans for their grand scheme.

But Jiang Wei wrote a secret letter to the Latter Ruler, saying:

“I pray Your Majesty be patient and put up with humiliations for a season, for Jiang Wei, your humble servant, will have the country restored in good time. The sun and moon are all the more glorious when they burst through the dark clouds. The House of Han is not yet done.”

While Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei were planning how best to outwit each other, but both being against Wei, there suddenly arrived a letter from Sima Zhao:

“I am at Changan with an army lest there should be any difficulty in disposing of Deng Ai. I need you to come to discuss state affairs.”

Zhong Hui divined the real purport at once.

“He suspects,” said Zhong Hui. “He knows quite well that my army outnumbers that of Deng Ai many times and I could do what he wishes easily. There is more than that in his coming.”

He consulted Jiang Wei, who said, “When the prince suspects a minister, that minister dies. Have we not seen Deng Ai?”

“This decides me,” replied Zhong Hui. “Success, and the empire is mine; failure, and I go west into Shu to be another Liu Bei, but without his mistakes.”

Jiang Wei said, “Empress Guo of Wei has just died. You can pretend she left you a command to destroy Sima Zhao, the real murderer of the Emperor. Your talents are quite sufficient to conquer the empire.”

“Will you lead the van?” said Zhong Hui. “When success is ours, we will share the spoil.”

“The little I can do, I will do most willingly,” said Jiang Wei. “But I am not sure of the support of all our subordinates.”

“Tomorrow is the fifteenth day of the month, a Feast of Lanterns will be held. We can gather in the Palace for the congratulations. There will be grand illuminations, and we will prepare a banquet for the officers, whereat we can kill all those who will not follow us.”

At this, the heart of Jiang Wei leapt with joy. Invitations were sent out in the joint names of the two conspirators, and the feast began. After several courses, suddenly Zhong Hui lifted his cup and broke into wailing.

Everyone asked what was the cause of this grief, and Zhong Hui replied. “The Empress has just died, but before her death she gave me an edict, which is here, recounting the crimes of Sima Zhao and charging him with aiming at the Throne. I am commissioned to destroy him, and you all must join me in the task.”

The guests stared at each other in amazement, but no one uttered a word.

Then the host suddenly drew his sword, crying, “Here is death for those who oppose!”

Not one was bold enough to refuse, and, one by one, they all signed a promise to help. As further security, they were all kept prisoners in the Palace under careful guard.

“They are not really with us,” said Jiang Wei. “I venture to request you to bury them all.”

“A great pit has been already dug,” replied his brother host. “And I have a lot of clubs ready. We can easily club those who disagree and bury them in the pit.”

As Jiang Wei and Zhong Hui discussed the matter, General Qiu Jian, a man in the confidence of Zhong Hui, was present. He had once served under Assistant General Hu Lie, who was one of the imprisoned guests, and thus he found means to warn his former chief.

Hu Lie wept and said, “My son, Hu Yuan, is in command of a force outside the city. He will never suspect Zhong Hui capable of such a crime, and I pray you tell him. If I am to die, it will be with less regret if my son can be told.”

“Kind master, have no anxiety; only leave it to me,” replied Qiu Jian.

He went to Zhong Hui, and said, “Sir, you are holding in captivity a large number of officers, and they are suffering from lack of food and water. Will you not appoint an officer to supply their needs?”

Zhong Hui was accustomed to yield to the wishes of Qiu Jian, and he made no difficulty about this. He told Qiu Jian to see to it himself, only saying, “I am placing great trust in you, and you must be loyal. Our secret must be kept.”

“My lord, you may be quite content. I know how to keep a strict watch when necessary.”

And Qiu Jian allowed to enter into the place of confinement a trusty confidant of Hu Lie, who gave him a letter to his son Hu Yuan.

When Hu Yuan knew the whole story, he was astonished and told his subordinates, and they were greatly enraged.

They came to their commander’s tent to say: “We would rather die than follow a rebel!”

So Hu Yuan fixed upon the eighteenth day of the month to attempt the rescue. He enlisted the sympathy of Wei Guan and got his army ready. He bade Qiu Jian tell his father what was afoot. Hu Lie then told his fellow-captives.

One day Zhong Hui said to Jiang Wei, “Last night I dreamed a dream, that I was bitten by many serpents. Can you expound the vision?”

Jiang Wei replied, “Dreams of dragons and snakes and scaly creatures are exceedingly auspicious.”

Zhong Hui was only too ready to accept this interpretation. Then he told Jiang Wei that all was ready and they would put the crucial question to each captive.

“I know they are opposed to us, and you would do well to slay them all, and that right quickly,” replied Jiang Wei.

“Good,” replied Zhong Hui.

He bade Jiang Wei with several ruffians kill the Wei leaders among the captives. But just as Jiang Wei was starting to carry out these instructions, he was seized with a sudden spasm of the heart, so severe that he fainted. He was raised from the earth and in time revived. Just as he came to, a tremendous hubbub arose outside the Palace. Zhong Hui at once sent to inquire what was afoot, but the noise waxed louder and louder, sounding like the rush of a multitude.

“The officers must be raging,” said Zhong Hui. “We would best slay them at once!”

But they told him: “The outside soldiers are in the Palace!”

Zhong Hui bade them close the doors of the Hall of Audience, and he sent his own troops upon the roof to pelt the incoming soldiers with tiles. Many were slain on either side in the melee. Then a fire broke out. The assailants broke open the doors. Zhong Hui faced them and slew a few, but others shot at him with flights of arrows, and he fell and died. They hacked off his head.

Jiang Wei ran to and fro slaying all he met till another heart spasm seized him.

“Failed!” he shrieked, “But it is the will of Heaven!”

He put an end to his own life. He was fifty-nine.

Many hundreds were slain within the Forbidden City. Wei Guan presently ordered that the soldiers were to be led back to their various camps to await the orders of the Duke of Jin.

The soldiers of Wei, burning for revenge of his many invasions, hacked the dead body of Jiang Wei to pieces. They found his gall bladder extraordinarily large, as large as a hen’s egg. They also seized and slew all the family of the dead leader.

Seeing that Deng Ai’s two enemies on the spot were both dead, his old soldiers bethought themselves of trying to rescue him. When Wei Guan, who had actually arrested Deng Ai, heard this, he feared for his life.

“If Deng Ai lives, I will die in his hand!” said Wei Guan.

Furthermore, General Tian Xu said, “When Deng Ai took Jiangyou, he wished to put me to death. It was only at the prayer of my friends that he let me off. May I not have my revenge now?”

So Wei Guan gave order. At the head of five hundred cavalry, Tian Xu went in pursuit of the cage-carts. He came up with them at Mianzhu and found that the two prisoners had just been released from the carts in which they were being carried to Luoyang. When Deng Ai saw that those coming up were soldiers of his own late command, he took no thought for defense. Nor did Tian Xu waste time in preliminaries. He went up to where Deng Ai was standing and cut him down. His soldiers fell upon the son, Deng Zhong, and slew him also, and thus father and son met death in the same place.

A poem, pitying Deng Ai, was written:

[hip, hip, hip]
While yet a boy, Deng Ai loved to sketch and plan;
He was an able leader as a man.
The earth could hide no secrets from his eye,
With equal skill he read the starry sky.
Past every obstacle his way he won,
And onward pressed until his task was done.
But foulest murder closed a great career,
His spirit ranges now a larger sphere.
[yip, yip, yip]

A poem was also composed in pity for Zhong Hui:

[hip, hip, hip]
Of mother wit Zhong Hui had no scanty share,
And in due time at court did office bear.
His subtle plans shook Sima Zhao’s hold on power,
He was well named the Zhang Liang of the hour.
Shouchun and Saber Pass ramparts straight fell down,
When he attacked, and he won great renown.
Ambition beckoned, he would forward press
His spirit homeward wandered, bodiless.
[yip, yip, yip]

Another poem, in pity of Jiang Wei, runs:

[hip, hip, hip]
Tianshui boasts of a hero,
Talent came forth from Xizhou,
Lu Wang fathered his spirit,
Zhuge Liang tutored his mind,
Valiant he ever pressed forward,
Nor had a thought of returning,
Grieved were the soldiers of Han
When death rapt his soul from his body.
[yip, yip, yip]

And thus died all three leaders. Many other generals also perished in the fighting, and with them died Zhang Yi and other officers. Liu Rui, the heir-apparent, and Guan Yi, Lord of Hanshou and grandson of Guan Yu, were also killed by the Wei soldiers. Then followed a time of great confusion and bloodshed, which endured till Jia Chong arrived and restored confidence and order.

[e] Matt, a reader: “Shu’s Demise—I Am Pissed: I found it disheartening that the Shu Kingdom was overturned by Deng Ai. In all, all the three kingdoms were united by the Jins. Man, Shu Kingdom were the most righteous, honorable kingdom which actually tried to upheld the Han Dynasty. In the end, Cao Cao’s decendants and Sima Yi’s heirs managed to destroy Shu and Wu. This is not right!! The Emperor was never avenged, and the kingdom which was actually trying to restore the Hans were destroyed. If they were so righteous, why were they defeated by the rebel!! Man, where there is a great warrior like Zhou Yu, there is Zhuge Liang that defeated him. Where there is great Prime Minister Zhuge Liang, there is great strategist Sima Yi that out-witted him. Where there is Jiang Wei, there is Deng Ai. Rebels remains victor and the righteous are defeated.” …..
[e] Sephiroth, a reader: “I tend to agree with you. The ones who actually tried to restore the Hans were defeated and the rebels remains victorous. This sucks but this is based on facts. So, can’t we argue with it any more. What does it tell ya, man? The good guys don’t always win…in fact, in life, the bad guys often have a winning hand. For example, look at [modern politics and how bullies have their way.] So, relax…life is like that…” …..

[e] Justin, a reader: “Yea, the ending is very sad, but you got to rememember that this is true histroy, so they can’t alter the storyline of the story. If you follow the story carefully, some scenes foreshadow the ending. For example, Ma Su’s disobedience is one of them. Zhuge Liang commented after the defeat that there would be no more golden opportunity to capture Changan. Another scene is when Zhuge Liang ingeniously lured Sima Yi into a small valley to burn him. Sima Yi would have perished but luckily he was saved by a sudden rainstorm. Zhuge Liang knew at that moment that Heaven had destined Sima Yi to reunite the land, not Shu-Han. To me, Shu had the most talents but it was pre-destined to lose to Jins. Others can be blamed for the downfall of Shu. Shu kingdom was really small compared to the vast kingdom of Wei. Of all the people I hate the most, it would be Liu Chan. His lack of knowledge and his apathy for the kingdom was one of the causes of the downfall. Beside this, If some generals would listen and heed Zhuge Liang’s advice, major strategic locations wouldn’t be lost. This is another factor that caused the demise. It is sad for me to read the ending of Zhuge Liang’ life. The man worked his butt off for his land, but Heaven had to betray him. This can be seen clearly in the scene when he invokes the stars.” …..

[e] # 44, a reader: “Zhuge Liang was never effectively outmanuvered by Sima Yi. If he had been allowed to live ten more years, he might have been able to make it. But good doesn’t always win over evil in the real world. And virtue is rarely a guarantee of anything but being virtuous. The world should follow good and honorable humans, but more often they follow power out of fear or opulence out of desire. At least Shu was there to make sure Cao Cao never saw a complete empire in his lifetime. The most cathartic part, to me at least, was that the Sima family had their empire taken away for the most part by [northern] tribespeople, and where did they run to to hide? Shu.” …..

[e] Sai, a reader: “I also sympathized with the Han dynasty. But like the other Latter Han empeperors… Liu Chan was just too typical. They were weak… and they sold out to the enunches. I’m not familiar enough with ancient Chinese culture to understand whats so great about these enunches. They never seemed very cool to me just from reading the novel. Wei just knew how to play the game better than Shu. After Guan Yu and Zhang Fei went… I could tell Shu was in for it… I knew Liu Bei didn’t have much longer to live. After Zhunge Liang went… I knew Shu had died with him. But no matter who wins or loses… only the heroes live on forever.” …..

[e] Khang, the coordinator: “Eunuchs are your servants, and they are closer to you than any other officials. In a court where officials are greedy and ambitious, you can always rely on the eunuchs for their loyalty. But some eunuchs are foolish and corrupt, and relying on them would ruin your kingdom. I guess a kingdom should rely on able officials—mandarins or eunuchs—and at the same time must be able to check their power. Zhuge Liang, as an official, never gives us anxiety, because he checks himself. The First Emperor of Qin, Cao Cao of Wei, and many other men built huge tombs for themselves, where they hid treasures for their next lives. Zhuge Liang commissioned a simple grave among wild hills, where he could continue guarding Shu.”

Jia Chong set Wei Guan over the city of Chengdu and sent the captive Latter Ruler to Luoyang. A few officers—Fan Jian, Zhang Shao, Qiao Zhou, and Xi Zheng—accompanied the deposed emperor on this degrading journey. Liao Hua and Dong Jue made illness an excuse not to go. They died of grief soon after.*

At this time the year-style of Wei was changed from Wonderful Beginning, the fifth year, to Great Glory, the first year (AD 264). In the third month of this year, since nothing could be done to assist Shu to recover its independence, the troops of Wu under Ding Feng were withdrawn and returned to their own land.

Now Secretary Hua Jiao sent up a memorial to Sun Xiu, the Ruler of Wu, saying, “Wu and Shu were as close as are one’s lips to one’s teeth, and when the lips are gone the teeth are cold. Without doubt Sima Zhao will now turn his thoughts to attacking us, and Your Majesty must realize the danger and prepare to meet it.”

Sun Xiu knew that he spoke truly, so he set Lu Kang, son of the late leader Lu Xun, over the army of Jingzhou and the river ports with the title General Who Guards the East; Sun Yin was sent to Nanxu; and Ding Feng was ordered to set up several hundred garrisons along the river banks.

In Shu when Huo Yi, Governor of Jianning, heard that Chengdu had been taken, he dressed himself in white and wailed during three days, facing west toward the capital.

“Now that the capital has fallen and the Ruler of Shu is a captive, it would be well to surrender,” said his officers.

Huo Yi replied, “There is a hindrance. I know not how fares our lord, whether he is in comfort or in misery. If his captors treat him generously, then will I yield. But perhaps they will put him to shame; and when the prince is shamed, the minister dies.”

So certain persons were sent to Luoyang to find out how fared the Latter Ruler.

Soon after the Latter Ruler reached the capital of Wei, Sima Zhao returned.

Seeing the Latter Ruler at court, Sima Zhao upbraided him, saying, “You deserved death for your vicious courses—corrupt morality, unchecked self-indulgence, contempt of good people, and misgovernment—, which had brought misfortune upon yourself!”

Hearing this, the face of the Latter Ruler turned to the color of clay with fear, and he was speechless.

But the courtiers said, “He has lost his kingdom, he has surrendered without a struggle, and he now deserves pardon.”

Thus the Latter Ruler suffered no injury, but was created Duke of Anle. Moreover, he was assigned a residence and a revenue, and he received presents of silk, and servants were sent to wait upon him, males and females in total one hundred. His son Liu Dao and the officers of Shu—Fan Jian, Qiao Zhou, Xi Zheng, and others—were given ranks of nobility. The Latter Ruler expressed his thanks and left.

Huang Hao, whose evil influence had brought the kingdom to nought, and who had oppressed the people, was put to death with ignominy in the public place.

When Huo Yi heard all these things, he came with his officers and yielded submission.

Next day the Latter Ruler went to the residence of Sima Zhao to thank him for his bounty, and a banquet was prepared. At the banquet they performed the music of Wei, with the dances, and the hearts of the officers of Shu were sad. Only the Latter Ruler appeared merry.

Half way through the feast, Sima Zhao said to Jia Chong, “The man lacks feeling. That is what has ruined him. Even if Zhuge Liang had lived, he could not have maintained such a man. It is no wonder that Jiang Wei failed.”

Turning to his guest, Sima Zhao said, “Do you never think of Shu?”

“With such music as this, I forget Shu,” replied the Latter Ruler.

Presently the Latter Ruler rose and left the table to change dress.

Xi Zheng went over to him and said, “Why did Your Majesty not say you missed Shu? If Your Majesty are questioned again, weep and say that in Shu are the tombs of your forefathers and no day passes that Your Majesty do not grieve to be so far away. The Duke of Jin may let Your Majesty return.”

The Latter Ruler promised he would.

When the wine had gone round several more times, Sima Zhao put the same question a second time: “Do you never think of Shu?”

The Latter Ruler replied as he had been told. He also tried to weep, but failed to shed a tear. So he shut his eyes.

“Is not that just what Xi Zheng told you to say?” asked Sima Zhao.

“It is just as you say,” was the reply.

They all laughed. But really Sima Zhao was pleased with the frank answer and felt that nothing was to be feared from him.

[hip, hip, hip]
Laughter loving, pleasure pursuing,
Rippling smiles over a merry face,
Never a thought of his former glory
In his callous heart finds place.
Childish joy in a change of dwelling,
That he feels and that alone;
Manifest now that he was never
Worthy to sit on his father’s throne.
[yip, yip, yip]

The courtiers thought that so grand an exploit as the conquest of the River Lands was worthy of high honor, so they memorialized the Ruler of Wei, Cao Huang, to confer the rank Prince of Jin on Sima Zhao. At that time, Cao Huang ruled in name only, for he had no authority. The whole land was under Sima Zhao, whose will the Emperor himself dared not cross. And so, in due course, the Duke of Jin became Prince of Jin.

After being made Prince of Jin, Sima Zhao posthumously created his father, Sima Yi, the Original Prince and his late elder brother, Sima Shi, the Wonderful Prince.

The wife of Sima Zhao was the daughter of Wang Su. She bore to him two sons, the elder of whom was named Sima Yan. Sima Yan was huge of frame, his flowing hair reached to the ground when he stood up, and both hands hung down below his knees. He was clever, brave, and skilled in the use of arms.

The second son, Sima You, was mild of disposition, a filial son and a dutiful brother. His father loved him dearly. As Sima Shi had died without leaving sons, this youth, Sima You, was regarded as his son, to continue that line of the family.

Sima Zhao used to say: “The empire was really my brother’s.”

Becoming a prince, it was necessary for Sima Zhao to choose his heir, and he wished to name his younger son Sima You. But Shan Tao remonstrated.

“It is improper and infelicitous to prefer the younger,” said Shan Tao.

And Jia Chong, He Zeng, and Pei Xiu followed in the same strain.

“The elder is clever, able in war, one of the most talented people in the state and popular. With such natural advantages he has a great destiny: He was not born to serve.”

Sima Zhao hesitated, for he was still unwilling to abandon his desire.

But two other officers—Grand Commander Wang Xiang and Minister of Works Xun Kai—also remonstrated, saying, “Certain former dynasties have preferred the younger before the elder and rebellion has generally followed. We pray you reflect upon these cases.”

Finally Sima Zhao yielded and named his elder son Sima Yan as his successor.

Certain officers memorialized: “This year a gigantic figure of a man descended from heaven in Xiangwu. His height was twenty feet and his footprint measured over three feet. He had white hair and a hoary beard. He wore an unlined yellow robe and a yellow cape. He walked leaning on a black-handled staff. This extraordinary man preached, saying, ‘I am the king of the people, and now I come to tell you of a change of ruler and the coming of peace.’ He wandered about for three days and then disappeared. Evidently this portent refers to yourself, Noble Sir, and now you should assume the imperial headdress with twelve strings of pearls, set up the imperial standard, and have the roads cleared when you make a progress. You should ride in the golden-shafted chariot with six horses. Your consort should be styled ‘Empress’ and your heir ‘Apparent’.”

Sima Zhao was greatly pleased. He returned to his palace, but just as he was sitting down, he was suddenly seized with paralysis and lost the use of his tongue. He quickly grew worse. His three chief confidants, Wang Xiang, He Zeng, and Xun Kai, together with many court officials, came to inquire after his health, but he could not speak to them. He pointed toward the heir apparent, Sima Yan, and died. It was the eighth month of that year.

Then said He Zeng, “The care of the empire devolves upon the Prince of Jin: Let us induct the heir. Then we can perform the sacrifices to the late prince.”

Thereupon Sima Yan was set up in his father’s place. He gave He Zeng the title of Prime Minister; Sima Wang, Minister of the Interior; Shi Bao, Commander of the Flying Cavalry; and conferred many other titles and ranks. The posthumous title of the “Scholar Prince” was conferred upon his late father.

[e] King Wen, aka the Scholar King, founder of the Zhou Dynasty, father of King Wu. King Wen did not actually founded the dynasty, but he laid the foundation for Zhou. At the end of Shang Dynasty, the state Zhou of King Wen had already possessed two-thirds of the empire, but King Wen still faithfully served the last emperor of Shang. The final conquest was completed by King Wu and King Wu’s brother, the Duke of Zhou. …..

When the obsequies were finished, Sima Yan summoned Jia Chong and Pei Xiu into the Palace, and said, “Cao Cao said that if the celestial mandate rested upon him, he could be no more than King Wen of Zhou*, who served as a regent only. Is this really so?”

Jia Chong replied, “Cao Cao was in the service of Han and feared lest posterity should reproach him with usurpation. Wherefore he spoke thus. Nevertheless he caused Cao Pi to become Emperor.”

“How did my father compare with Cao Cao?” asked Sima Yan.

“Although Cao Cao was universally successful, yet the people feared him and credited him with no virtue. Cao Pi’s rule was marked by strife and lack of tranquillity. No single year was peaceful. Later the Original Prince and Wonderful Prince of your line rendered great services and disseminated compassion and virtue, so that they were beloved. Your late father overcame Shu in the west and was universally renowned. Comparison with Cao Cao is impossible.”

“Still Cao Pi succeeded the rule of Han. Can I not in like manner succeed that of Wei?”

Jia Chong and Pei Xiu bowed low and said, “Cao Pi’s action may be taken as a precedent to succeed an older dynasty. Wherefore prepare an abdication terrace to make the great declaration.”

Sima Yan resolved to act promptly. Next day he entered the Forbidden City armed with a sword. No court had been held for many days, for Cao Huang was ill at ease and full of dread. When Sima Yan appeared, the Ruler of Wei left his place and advanced to met him. Sima Yan sat down.

“By whose merits did Wei succeed to empire?” he asked suddenly.

“Certainly success was due to your forefathers,” replied Cao Huang.

Sima Yan smiled, saying, “Your Majesty is unskilled in debate, inept in war, and unfit to rule. Why not give place to another more able and virtuous?”

Cao Huang’s lips refused a reply.

But Zhang Jie, one of the ministers, cried, “You are wrong to speak thus, O Prince. His Majesty’s ancestor conquered east and west, north and south, and won the empire by strenuous effort. The present Emperor is virtuous and without fault. Why should he yield place to another?”

Sima Yan replied angrily, “The imperial right lay with the Hans, and Cao Cao coerced them as he did the nobles. In making himself the Prince of Wei, he usurped the throne of Han. Three generations of my forefathers upheld the House of Wei, so that their power is not the result of their own abilities, but of the labor of my house. This is known to all the world, and am I not equal to carrying on the rule of Wei?”

“If you do this thing, you will be a rebel and an usurper,” said Zhang Jie.

“And what shall I be if I avenge the wrongs of Han?”

He bade the lictors take Zhang Jie outside and beat him to death, while the Ruler of Wei wept and besought pardon for his faithful minister.

Sima Yan rose and left.

Cao Huang turned to Jia Chong and Pei Xiu, saying, “What should I do? Some decision must be taken.”

They replied, “Truth to tell, the measure of your fate is accomplished and you cannot oppose the will of Heaven. You must prepare to abdicate as did Emperor Xian of the Hans. Resign the throne to the Prince of Jin and thereby accord with the design of Heaven and the will of the people. Your personal safety need not cause you anxiety.”

Cao Huang could only accept this advice, and the terrace was built. The “mouse” day of the twelfth month was chosen for the ceremony. On that day the Ruler of Wei, dressed in full robes of ceremony, and bearing the seal in his hand, ascended the terrace in the presence of a great assembly.

[hip, hip, hip]
The House of Wei displaced the House of Han
And Jin succeeded Wei; so turns fate’s wheel
And none escape its grinding. Zhang Jie the true
Stood in the way and died. We pity him.
Vain hope with one hand to hide Taishan Mountains.
[yip, yip, yip]

The Emperor-elect was requested to ascend the high place, and there received the great salute. Cao Huang then descended, robed himself as a minister and took his place as the first of subjects.

Sima Yan now stood upon the terrace, supported by Jia Chong and Pei Xiu. Cao Huang was ordered to prostrate himself, while the command was recited, and Jia Chong read:

“Forty-five years have elapsed since, in the twenty-fifth year of Rebuilt Tranquillity, the House of Han gave place to the House of Wei. But after forty-five years, the favor of Heaven has now left the latter House and reverts to Jin. The merits and services of the family of Sima reach to the high heavens and pervade the earth. The Prince of Jin is fitted for the high office and to continue the rule. Now His Majesty the Emperor confers upon you the title of Prince of Chenliu. You are to proceed to the city of Jinyong, where you will reside; you are forbidden to come to court unless summoned.”

Sadly Cao Huang withdrew with tears in his eyes. Sima Fu, Guardian of the Throne, wept before the deposed Emperor and promised eternal devotion.

“I have been a servant of Wei and will never turn my back upon the House!” said he.

Sima Yan did not take this amiss, and out of admiration he offered Sima Fu the princedom of Anping. But Sima Fu declined the offer.

The new Emperor was now seated in his place, and all the officers made their salutations and felicitated him. The very hills rang with “Wan shui! O King, live forever!”

Thus succeeded Sima Yan, and the state was called Great Jin and a new year-style was changed from Great Glory, the second year, to Great Beginning Era, the first year (AD 265). An amnesty was declared. Since then Wei Dynasty ended.

[hip, hip, hip]
The kingdom of Wei had ended.
The Founder of the Dynasty of Jin
Took Wei as model; thus the displaced emperor
Was named a prince, when on the terrace high
His throne he had renounced.
We grieve when we recall these deeds.
[yip, yip, yip]

The new Emperor conferred posthumous rank upon his grandfather, his uncle, and his father: Sima Yi the Original Emperor, Sima Shi the Wonderful Emperor, and Sima Zhao the Scholar Emperor. Sima Yan built seven temples in honor of his ancestors: Sima Jun, the Han General Who Conquers the West; Sima Jun’s son, Sima Liang, Governor of Yuzhang; Sima Liang’s son, Sima Juan, Governor of Yingchuan; Sima Juan’s son, Sima Fang, Governor of Jingzhao; Sima Fang’s son, Sima Yi the Original Emperor; and Sima Yi’s sons, Sima Shi the Wonderful Emperor and Sima Zhao the Scholar Emperor.

All these things being accomplished, courts were held daily, and the one subject of discussion was the subjugation of Wu.

[hip, hip, hip]
The House of Han has gone for aye,
And Wu will quickly follow.
[yip, yip, yip]

The story of the attack upon Wu will be told next.

Previous articleRomance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 100
Next articleRomance of Three Kingdoms Chapter 118
Discover the wonders of China through studying abroad - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand your horizons, immerse yourself in a rich and diverse culture, and gain a world-class education.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here