Yáng Yí appellation Wēigōng was a man of Xiāngyáng. During Jiàn’ān [196-2120] he was appointed by the Inspector of Jīngzhōu Fù Qún as Registrar, but abandoned Qún and went to join Administrator of Xiāngyáng Guān Yǔ. Yǔ appointed him Merit Officer, and sent him as messenger west to visit Xiān-zhǔ [Liú Bèi]. Xiān-zhǔ discussed with him military strategy and politics, and was greatly pleased with him, and therefore appointed him Bureau Officer of the Soldiers of the General of the Left.
When Xiān-zhǔ became King of Hànzhōng , he selected Yí to enter the Secretariat. When Xiān-zhǔ took Imperial title and led an eastern campaign against Wú, Yí and Director of the Secretariat Liú Bā did not get along, so he was transferred to a remote post as Administrator of Hóngnóng.
Jiànxīng third year , Chancellor [Zhūgě] Liàng appointed him Advisor to the Army to assist in government affairs to prepare to go south. Fifth year , he followed Liàng to Hànzhōng. Eighth year , he was promoted to Chief Clerk, and also appointed General Soothing the Army. Liàng repeatedly set out with the army, and Yí always aided in the planning and raising of provisions and supplies, and did not inspect matters extremely thoroughly and so finished quickly. The military’s etiquette system was all determined by Yí. Liàng deeply appreciated Yí’s ability and relied on Wèi Yán’s valor, always hated that the two men could not be at peace, and did not favor one over the other.
Twelfth year , he followed Liàng to camp at Gǔkǒu. Liàng died on the battlefield. Yí then led the army back, also executed [Wèi] Yán, and believed his achievements and merits were great and so he should succeed Liàng in managing the government. He called on Commandant Zhào Zhèng to use the Zhōuyì’s divination, but the cast was ‘family man,’ and he was silent and not pleased.
While Liàng was living he secretly left instructions, that because Yí was impetuous and narrow-minded, his intention was with Jiǎng Wǎn. Wǎn therefore became Director of the Secretariat and Inspector of Yìzhōu. When Yí returned, he was appointed Master of the Central Army, without a personal command and could only act at his own discretion and that nothing more.
Previously, Yí was appointed by Xiān-zhǔ to the Secretariat, and Wǎn was appointed Secretariat Official. Later though they were both Chief Clerks to the Army of the Chancellor, Yí always accompanied and undertook the burdensome work, and believed his seniority and ability were above Wǎn, and therefore his resentment and indignation showed in his speech and face, and he sighed of everything that came from his insides. At the time people were afraid he would speak inappropriately, so none dared follow him. Only Master of the Rear Army Fèi Yī went to console and visit him.
Yí told [Fèi] Yī his resentments and frustrations, and from beginning to end he spoke on and on, and also said to Yī: “Previously at the time the Chancellor died, if I had led the army to join Wèi, then would the present situation have fallen to this? It makes one regret being unable to go back to then.” [Fèi] Yī secretly memorialized this speech.
Thirteenth year , Yí was demoted to commoner and exiled to Hànjiā prefecture. When Yí arrived there, he again sent up a letter of libel, and his words were infuriating, so the prefecture arrested Yí. Yí killed himself, and his wife and children returned to Shǔ. (1)
- (1) Chǔguó Xiānxián Zhuàn says Yí’s elder brother Lǜ was styled Wēifāng. When young he had moral conduct, and south of the Jiāng he was capped. The province and commandery sought to recruit him, and all the lords invited him, but all he would not serve. Aged seventeen years he died. The village people called him Moral Conduct Sir Yáng.