(45.1) Dèng Zhī 鄧芝 [Bómiǎo 伯苗]

Dèng Zhī, appellation Bómiǎo, was a Yìyáng Xīnyě man, a descendant of Hàn Excellency over the Masses [Dèng] Yǔ. At the end of Hàn he entered Shǔ, but was unknown and did not receive support. At the time the Yìzhōu advisor Zhāng Yù befriended him, and Zhī accompanied him. Yù said to Zhī: “By the time your age has passed seventy, your rank will have reached General-in-Chief and Marquis.” Zhī heard that the Administrator of Bāxī Páng Xī was friendly to scholars, and went to join him.


When Xiān-zhǔ settled Yìzhōu, he was Commander of Pídǐgé. Xiān-zhǔ went out and arrived at Pí, spoke with him, and was impressed with him, and promoted him to Magistrate of Pí, then to Administrator of Guǎnghàn. Wherever he was he was honest and strict and had achievements in government, and he entered the Court in the Secretariat.


Xiān-zhǔ died at Yǒng’ān [223]. Before this, the King of Wú Sūn Quán had asked for peace, and Xiān-zhǔ had successively sent Sòng Wěi, Fèi Yī and others in answer. Chancellor Zhūgě Liàng was very concerned that Quán would hear that Xiān-zhǔ had died and afraid [Sūn Quán] would change his plans, and did not know the situation.


Zhī met with Liàng and said: “Now our master is young and has only just ascended. It is appropriate to send a high-ranking envoy to reaffirm our friendship with Wú.”


Liàng replied: “I have already been thinking of this for a long time, but had not yet found a man and that is all. Today I have just found him.”


Zhī asked who this man was, and Liàng said: “The envoy is you, sir.” Therefore he sent Zhī to reaffirm friendship with Quán.


Quán was indeed suspicious, and would not meet with Zhī at that time. Zhī therefore personally presented a memorial to ask to meet Quán and said: “I your servant have come also for the sake of Wú, not only for the sake of Shǔ.”


Quán therefore met him, and said to Zhī: “I honestly wish to make peace and alliance with Shǔ, but am concerned that the ruler of Shǔ is young, that the state is weak and vulnerable, and when invaded by Wèi will not be able to defend itself fully, and because of this I hesitate and that is all.”


Zhī answered: “The two states of Wú and Shǔ command the land of four provinces. You, great King, are a great hero of our age, while Zhūgě Liàng is also an outstanding hero. Shǔ has difficult terrain, and Wú has three rivers to defend it, and combining our two positions, holding together as lips and teeth. Advancing we can together seize the realm, and withdrawing we can maintain the tripod balance. This is natural sense. If you, great King, now wish to pledge yourself to Wèi, then Wèi at most will summon you, great King, to enter their Court, and at least summon your Heri-Apparent to serve as their inner attendant. If you do not obey these commands, then they will claim justification to attack you as a rebel. Shǔ will certainly follow the opportunity it sees and advance, and the lands south of the Jiāng will no longer be yours, great King.”


Quán was silent for a long time and then said: “Your words are correct, sir.” Therefore he broke off relations with Wèi and kept peace with Shǔ, and sent Zhāng Wēn in answer to Shǔ.


Shǔ again sent Zhī on an important embassy, Quán said to Zhī: “If the realm is at peace, and our two rulers can divide the government, would that not be a joy?”


Zhī replied: “Just as Heaven cannot have two suns, Earth cannot have two Kings. If after we have together conquered Wèi, you, great King, still do not recognize who truly holds Heaven’s Mandate, then each lord will establish their virtuous authority and each side’s subjects will exert their loyalty, and the officers will beat the drums and the war shall begin and that is all.”


Quán greatly laughed and said: “Your honest frankness is like this!”


Quán wrote a letter to Liàng that said: “Dīng Gōng was dazzling (1) and Yīn Huà rambling without end. In maintaining peace between our two states, there is only Dèng Zhī.”


  • (1) Shàn is pronounced Y(í)+(n)iàn together, or else Yàn.
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī comments:
  • The Hànshū’s Lǐyuèzhì “Treatise on Rites” states: “The Chief presents dazzling light.”
  • Zuǒ Sī’s Shǔdūfù “Rhapsody on Shǔ’s capital” states: “Spreading elegance dazzles Heaven’s Court.”
  • Sūn Quán’s comment was implying that Dīng Gōng’s words were overly colorful and superficial.

〔一〕 掞音夷念反,或作豔。臣松之案漢書禮樂志曰「長離前掞光耀明」。左思蜀都賦「摛藻掞天庭」。孫權蓋謂丁厷之言多浮豔也。

When Liàng went north to station at Hànzhōng, Zhī was appointed Central Supervisor of the Army and General Raising Martial Ability. When Liàng died [234], he was promoted to Front Master of the Army and General of the Front, with authority as the Inspector of the province and fief as Marquis of Yángwǔ precinct, and shortly afterward he became Commander of Jiāngzhōu. Quán was often in communication with Zhī, and sent generous gifts.


Yánxī sixth year [243] he was promoted to General of Chariots and Cavalry, later with a Staff of Authority. Eleventh year [248] the peoples of Fúlíng killed the local Commandant and rebelled. Zhī led the army to attack them, and after beheading the leaders, the common people were pacified. (2)


  • Huáyáng Guózhì states: Zhī attacked Fúlíng, and saw dark apes in the mountains. Zhī was good with crossbows, and personally hand shot and struck an ape. The ape pulled out the arrow, and grabbed rolled up tree leaves to block the wound. Zhī said: “Oh, I have violated its nature, and will soon die.” Another version states: Zhī saw an ape carrying its child atop a tree, and used a crossbow to shoot them, hitting the mother ape. The child ape pulled out the arrow, and used tree leaves to block the wound. Zhī therefore sighed and threw his crossbow into the river, knowing that his death was soon.

〔二〕 華陽國志曰:芝征涪陵,見玄猿緣山。芝性好弩,手自射猿,中之。猿拔其箭,卷木葉塞其創。芝曰:「嘻,吾違物之性,其將死矣!」一曰:芝見猿抱子在樹上,引弩射之,中猿母,其子為拔箭,以木葉塞創。芝乃歎息,投弩水中,自知當死。

Fourteenth year [251] he died.


Zhī was a General for over twenty years, his systems of reward and punishment was clear and decisive, and he cared for the common soldiers. His food and clothes were obtained from the government, he was conscientious and frugal, and in the end he did not manage private wealth. At times his wives and children went hungry and cold, and on the day he died his family had no surplus wealth. By nature he was strict and direct and did not embellish his meaning, so he did not get along with the troops. He was not often respectful or reverent to the men of his time, and only considered Jiāng Wéi as exceptional.


His son Liáng inherited his noble title, and during Jǐngyào became Left Elector Offical in the Secretariat, and the Jìn Court’s Administrator of Guǎnghàn.


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