Zhōng Yáo appellation Yuáncháng was a Yǐngchuān Chángshè man. (1)
- (1) Xiānxián Xíngzhuàng “Backgrounds of Past Worthies” states:
- Zhōng Hào appellation Jìmíng was warm and kind and sincere and cautious, extensively studied verse and law, instructed over a thousand students, and became prefecture Merit Officer. At the time Tàiqiū Chief Chén Shí became Xīmén Precinct Chief, and Hào deeply and specially respected him. Shí was younger than Hào by seventeen years, but they always with courtesy cared for each other and together had friendship. When he was recruited to the Office of the Excellencies, he was about to resign [as Merit Officer], and the Administrator asked: “Who can replace you sir?” Hào said: “If you wise governor seek a certain to fit man, the Xīmén Precinct Chief can be employed.” Shí said: “Gentleman Zhōng seems to not take appraising men as his focus. Who knows why he only takes note of me?”
- Hào became an Excellency over the Masses official. The Excellency set out, the road was muddy, the escorts were afraid of being splashed, and kept away from the Excellency’s carriage by a great distance. The Excellency took the carriage crossbar [to push the carriage himself] and said: “Then today the Excellency over the Masses will go alone!” He returned to the office to the side door, rang the bell but no one came to help him, so when the officials greeted him with clasped hands, the Excellency kept his hands still [to not answer them] and did not look at them. At the time all the Excellency Office’s officials submitted their resignations. Hào was the West Department Official, and at once opened the office gates to call to those who already left, saying: “I your Servant cannot personally explain this to the master. If the Director of Retainers cites regulations, where the Excellency failed to honor the Rites of a chief minister and you could not bear it, then where will you sirs ever find appointment again?” The officials because of this all stopped. The capital officials indeed went the West Department to investigate the reason for the office resignations. Hào was summoned to meet the capital officials, presented the names of the officials, and so the matter was settled.
- From beginning to end he was recruited nine times to the Three Offices, transferred to Chief of Nánxiāng and Línlǜ, but did not hold office. At the time in the prefecture the elders that all Within the Seas bowed toward were Administrator of Cāngwú Chén Zhìshū of Dìnglíng, former Magistrate of Líyáng Xún Shū of Yǐngyīn, and Hào. Minister Treasurer Lǐ Yīng always honored these three men, saying: “Master Xún’s honesty and knowledge are difficult to match, Chén’s [Zhìshū] and Zhōng’s [Hào] morality can be teachers.” [Lǐ] Yīng’s paternal aunt became Hào’s elder brother’s wife, bore a son [Zhōng] Jìn, who was the same age as Yīng, and also had good reputation. Jìn also was good at his studies and admired the ancients, and was deferential in his conduct. At the time he was a child, [Lǐ] Yīng’s grandfather Grand Commandant [Lǐ] Xiū said: “Jìn resembles my family’s character. When the state is principled he will not be dismissed, and when the state is unprincipled he will [also] escape execution,” and therefore gave [Lǐ] Yīng’s younger sister to wed him. [Zhōng] Jìn was recruited to the provincial offices, and not once suffered a wrong. [Lǐ] Yīng said to [Zhōng] Jìn: “Mèng Kē believed that men who do not have a heart to distinguish good from bad and right from wrong were not men. Younger brother, why do you treat others without distinguishing black from white?” [Zhōng] Jìn once told [Lǐ] Yīng’s words to Hào, and Hào said: “[Lǐ Yīng] Yuánlǐ’s grandfather is an Excellency and his father’s and uncles are all powerful, and he is Excellency Hán’s sister son, and therefore he can act this way and that is all. Guó Wǔzǐ liked to show off other people’s faults, becoming a source of complaint; now is this not the same time? In protecting yourself and your whole family, your way is the right way.” [Zhōng] Jìn died young. Though [Lǐ] Yīng had merits and reputation and his rank reached near the Ministers, yet he died and fell due to disaster.
- Hào aged sixty-nine died at home. Hào’s two sons Dí and Fū both because of the Partisan Proscriptions were not appointed. Yáo was Dí’s grandson.
He once with his cousin’s father Yú together arrived at Luòyáng. On the road they encountered a physiognomy appraiser, who said: “This boy has [a future] nobility’s appearance, but will be endangered by water. Be careful!” They went on and within ten lǐ they crossed a bridge, the horse panicked, and he fell in the water and nearly died. Yú because the appraiser’s words were correct greatly esteemed Yáo, and so provided him with funds to allow him to study. He was nominated as xiàolián “Filial and Incorrupt,” (2) appointed Secretariat Gentleman, Magistrate of Yánglíng, and due to illness resigned.
- (2) Xiè Chéng’s Hòuhànshū states: Nányáng’s Yīn Xiū became Administrator of Yǐngchuān, focused on seeking out the talented, nominated All-Purposes Official Zhāng Zhòng as Fāngzhèng “Upright,” and examined Merit Officer Zhōng Yáo, Registrar Xún Yù, Recording Official Zhāng Lǐ, Criminal Justice Official Dù Yòu, Filial and Incorrupt Xún Yōu, Calculation Official Guō Tú as officials, and so benefited the state’s Court.
He was recruited to the Offices of the Three [Excellencies], became a Minister of Justice’s Rectifier, and Yellow Gate Attendant-Cadet. At that time, the Hàn Emperor was at the Western Capital [Cháng’ān]. Lǐ Jué, Guō Sì, and others were chaotic in Cháng’ān, and the East of the Passes was cut off. Tàizǔ [Cáo Cāo] took office as Governor of Yǎnzhōu and first sent envoy to send up a letter. (3)
- (3) Shìyǔ states: Tàizǔ sent as envoy Advisor Wáng Bì to request orders from Heaven’s Son.
[Lǐ] Jué, [Guō] Sì, and the others believed: “The East of the Passes wishes to establish their own Heaven’s Son. Now though Cáo Cāo has sent an envoy, he is not genuine,” and discussed detaining Tàizǔ’s envoy to refuse his intentions.
Yáo persuaded [Lǐ] Jué, [Guō] Sì, and the others: “Now heroes all rise up, each pretending they have orders to seize power. Only Cáo of Yǎnzhōu devotes his heart to the Ruling House. Yet you oppose this loyal action, and this will not help your future prospects.”
[Lǐ] Jué, [Guō] Sì, and the others followed Yáo’s words, generously gave rewards in reply, and because of this Tàizǔ’s envoy mission was therefore successful. Tàizǔ had already frequently heard Xún Yù’s praising of Yáo, and also heard of his persuading of [Lǐ] Jué and [Guō] Sì, and increased his admiration [of Zhōng Yáo].
Later [Lǐ] Jué seized Heaven’s Son , and Yáo with Secretariat-Gentleman Hán Bīn together made plans. In Heaven’s Son’s escape from Cháng’ān, Yáo exerted great effort. He was appointed Censorate Palace Deputy, promoted Palace Attendant Secretariat Servant-Shooter, and in recognition for his previous achievements was given fief as Marquis of Dōngwǔ precinct.
At the time Within the Passes Generals Mǎ Téng, Hán Suì, and others each gathered troops and with each other fought. Tàizǔ was already occupied with the east of the mountains, and because of the right [west] of the Passes was concerned. Therefore  he memorialized Yáo as Attendant Internal to defend as Colonel-Director of Retainers with Wielding Staff of Authority to command all the armies Within the Passes, entrusted with all later affairs, and special discretion to not be confined by regulations. Yáo arrived at Cháng’ān, sent letters to [Mǎ] Téng, [Hán] Suì, and others, explaining to them potential gains and losses, and [Mǎ] Téng and [Hán] Suì each sent a son to enter [Court] as an attendant [and political hostage].
Tàizǔ was at Guāndù  and with Yuán Shào was locked in stalemate. Yáo sent over two thousand horses to the army. Tàizǔ wrote a letter to Yáo: “Receiving these sent horses was extremely helpful for this emergency. Right [west] of the Passes is pacified and the Court has no worries looking to the west, and this is your achievement sir. In the past Xiāo Hé defended Within the Passes, providing amble provisions for a successful army, and so too with you.”
After this  the Xiōngnú Shànyú rebelled in Píngyáng. Yáo commanded all the armies to besiege them, but had not yet dislodged them when Yuán Shàng’s appointed Administrator of Hédōng Guō Yuán arrived at Hédōng, and his army was very powerful. The various Generals discussed and wished to withdraw, but Yáo said: “The Yuán clan is presently strong, [Guō] Yuán has come, and Within the Passes there are those in secret communications with them. That everything is not in rebellion is only because of our authoritative reputation and that is all. If we abandon this and retreat, it reveals weakness, and of all the people here, who would not become our enemies? Even if we wish to return, would we be able to? This is to first defeat ourselves even before battle. Moreover, [Guō] Yuán is stubborn and aggressive, and will certainly underestimate our army. If he crosses the Fén [river] to make camp, and when he is not yet fully crossed we attack him, he can be greatly defeated.”
Zhāng Jì persuaded Mǎ Téng to join in attacking [Guō] Yuán, and Téng sent his son Chāo to lead elite troops to oppose them. [Guō] Yuán arrived, and indeed recklessly crossed the Fén. His army [wanted to] stop him, but he did not listen. As he was crossing the river and not yet halfway, they attacked and greatly defeated him, (1) beheading [Guō] Yuán, and the Shànyú surrendered. As told in [Zhāng] Jì’s Biography [SGZ 15].
- (1) Sīmǎ Biāo’s Zhànlüè states: Yuán Shàng sent Gāo Gàn and Guō Yuán to command troops of several tens of thousand men to with the Xiōngnú Shànyú to invade Hédōng, and sent an envoy to with Mǎ Téng, Hán Suì, and the rest make alliance, and Téng and the rest secretly agreed to this. Fù Gàn persuaded Téng: “The ancients had the saying: ‘Those who follow the way prosper, those who oppose virtue perish.’ Excellency Cáo receives Heaven’s Son and punishes the rebellious, with law and enlightenment governs the state, high and low all follow commands, the righteous are certain to be rewarded, the unrighteous certain to be punished, and he can be said to be following the way. Yuán turns his back on the ruler’s commands, drives on the barbarians to invade the central states, acts lenient but has many jealousies, acts benevolent but has no decisiveness, and though his troops are strong he has truly lost the hearts of the realm, and can be said to be opposing virtue. Now you General both have principle in actions but do not use all your strength, secretly planning to hold to both sides, wishing to sit and observe the outcome, but I fear when the outcome is settled and awards and punishments are given, you General will be first to be beheaded.” Therefore Téng was afraid. [Fù] Gàn said: “The wise turn disaster into good fortune. Now Excellency Cáo and the Yuán are locked in battle, but Gāo Gàn and Guō Yuán alone occupy Hédōng. Though Excellency Cáo has absolutely sure plans, he cannot do anything to prevent Hédōng’s danger. You General truly can lead troops to suppress [Guō] Yuán, so that inside and out both attack him, and certainly take him. With your one move General, you will break Yuán’s arm, resolve the danger to one side, and Excellency Cáo will certainly honor you General, and your merits and reputation will be such that bamboo and silk cannot be enough to record. May you General consider carefully!” [Mǎ] Téng said: “I gratefully accept your guidance.” Therefore he sent his son [Mǎ] Chāo to command elite troops of over ten thousand men, and together command [Hán] Suì’s and the others’ troops, and with Yáo together attacked [Guō] Yuán and the rest, and greatly defeated them.
After this Hédōng’s Wèi Gù rebelled, and with Zhāng Chéng, Zhāng Yǎn, and Gāo Gàn and others joined together to plunder. Yáo again led the various officers and suppressed and defeated them. (2)
- (2) Wèilüè states: Imperial Order summoned Administrator of Hédōng Wáng Yì. [Wáng] Yì because the realm was not yet settled in his heart was unwilling to be summoned, and the officials and people also felt attached to [Wáng] Yì, so commandery official Wèi Gù and Palace Gentleman-General Fàn Xiān and others each Yáo to plead for [Wáng] Yì. But Imperial Order had already appointed Dù Jī as Administrator, and Jī had already entered the borders. Yáo would not listen to Xiān and the others, and urged [Wáng] Yì to hand over his seals. [Wáng] Yì on his belt wore his seals and ribbons and went directly from Héběi to Xǔ [instead of to Zhōng Yáo in a deliberate snub] and then returned home. Yáo at the time governed at Luòyáng, and himself observed he had lost authority over officials, and therefore sent up a memorial impeaching himself that said: “I your Servant previously sent up word that former General Defending the North and Administrator of Hédōng the Marquis of Ānyáng precinct Wáng Yì was opportunistic and cheating in government office, violated laws and regulations, that he should be impeached, to investigate the truth of his crimes. This was by Imperial Order followed for investigation. As he accepted blame for his crimes, therefore he was pardoned. Also I your Servant sent up word that the officials and people large and small each harbored feelings for his past governance and said [Wáng] Yì would return, resisted Administrator Dù Jī, but now change opinion and together welcome [Dù] Jī as their official. Carefully considering written correspondence, I your Servant due to empty [reputation] received favor and selection, entered [Court] as a close Attendant, while also managing critical judgements, received heavy responsibilities, governing this side region, both without virtuous government to benefit the people and also without authority and punishment to restrain the disrespectful, until it caused [Wáng] Yì to disobey written Imperial Order, commandary official Wèi Gù to deceive and oppress the officials and people, with words of accusations and complaints, passing through stations and roads, gradually losing their courtesy, not revering the ruler’s commands. Now though matters are returned to before, disgraceful reputation flows and is heard, this misfortune is all because my authority and punishments were not effective. I your servant am also ill, from beginning to end for several years, my strength daily declines, my corpse uselessly receiving heavy salary, neglecting my duties and appointment, and my crimes must be by law corrected. I solemnly propose that I, Palace Attendant Administrator, Colonel Director of Retainers, and Marquis of Dōngwǔ precinct Zhōng Yáo, by good fortune received favor, had narrow-minded ability, yet received selection for promotion, was held in close confidence, and received orders to serve as supervisor and emissary. I am fully aware that Imperial Order deeply resents Chief Clerks whose governance is lenient and week, investigates lack of punishments, chronic illness resulting in delays, all duties becoming confused and stopped, and ordinances failing to spread. Though [Wáng] Yì disobeyed administration, he ought to be certainly bound by law. When I presented written report, my actions missed the mark, causing [Wáng] Yì to from afar go to visit the Palace. This violated and shamed the orders, and obstructed and harmed the soldiers. And [Wèi] Gù deceived and forced the officials and people, resisting [Dù] Jī for continuous months. Although now he regrets this, he violated obedience and went against the correct, within the seas is in fear, and the fault is because my authority and punishments were obscure and weak. Furthermore I am chronically ill, am not appointed to the right office, and it is not suitable that I should be a great minister. I am irreverent with bad judgment, disobedient of Imperial Order, do not have the same views as the state, as a servant am not loyal, am devoid of scruples, and greatly disrespectful. Also I do not carry out Imperial Order, and in receiving Imperial Order am not diligent. Also my understanding is hindered, I am taken advantage by subordinates, and am weak and not qualified. By these crimes I solemnly impeach myself, and ask to be taken by legal chariot to the Minister of Justice to be punished for my crime, and for the Minister Herald to remove my fief and territory. I have long been weak from serious illness, from summer it grows stronger and more severe, cannot speak commands to the county, and cannot appoint and manage officials. Therefore I give written letter to the Merit Officer and Advisor Mǎ Shì to handle, resign my cap and walk barefooted, to submit myself for punishment.” Imperial Order would not accept this.
From since Heaven’s Son had moved west, the Luòyáng population had been wiped out. Yáo moved people from Within the Passes, and also recruited conscripts, exiles, and former rebels to supplement them, and within several years the population was gradually restored. When Tàizǔ campaigned Within the Passes , he was thus able to obtain resources, and memorialized Yáo as Master of the Front Army.
When Wèi state was first established , he became Grand Judge [equivalent to Minister of Justice], then promoted to State Chancellor. When Wén-dì [Cáo Pī] was at the Eastern Palace [as Heir-Apparent] he bestowed on Yáo an All-Purpose Cauldron, and engraved on it: “The rising power of Wèi is the vassal and assistant of Hàn. Who can do the same [for Wèi, i.e. serve as assistance] is only Zhōng [Yáo]. He works industriously with all his heart and strength, is tranquil and respectful from morning to night, and has no time for leisure and rest. For all the ministers he is a teacher, a model by which to judge.” (1)
- (1) Wèilüè states: Yáo became State Chancellor, and the Heir-Apparent [Cáo Pī] commissioned an All-Purpose Cauldron for the occasion. The cauldron was completed, and the Heir-Apparent wrote a letter to Yáo: “In the past Huáng[-dì] had three cauldrons, Zhōu had nine treasures [cauldrons], each used one object to prepare one flavor; how can they compare to the fragrance of this Cauldron for all flavors? The greatest culinary uses of this cauldron are to offer sacrifices to God Above, to care for the sagely and worthy, to manifest virtue and pray for blessings; nothing can surpass these in beauty. Therefore if one is not a great man, there is none who can create it; if there is not this cauldron, there is none appropriate for splendid virtue. Now this excellent cauldron surpasses all beauty. Zhōu’s Shīchén, Sòng’s Kǎofù, Wèi’s Kǒnglǐ, Jìn’s Wèi Kē; these four ministers because of their achievements and virtues have their names inscribed on the cauldron. Now the attendants greatly support our Great Wèi, to extend sagely influence. Majestic virtue by this can flourish. The Minister of Ceremonies should decide inscriptions, and decide the sacred vessel’s engravings. Therefore I wrote this inscription, to engrave on the cauldron’s mouth, so that all may use it to raise up great beauty, and pass it down without end.”
- Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: According to the Hànshū’s Jiāosìzhì “Treatise on Sacrifices,” in the time of Xiào-Xuān [Liú Xún], Měiyáng found a cauldron, and Intendant of Jīngzhào Zhāng Cháng commented to the Ascended: “This cauldron has carved writing: ‘The King commands Shīchén, to govern this Xún village, bestowing on you phoenix flag, embroidered and engraved spears. Shīchén folds hands and bows head to say: I dare raise up the grand commands of Heaven’s Son!’ This is probably bestowed by Zhōu to a great minister, and the great minister’s descendants carved this inscription of the past achievement, and stored it in the Palace Temple.” For the Kǎofù inscription see Zǔoshì Zhuàn. Kǒnglǐ’s inscription is in Lǐjì. These are well known and therefore not recorded here. Guóyǔ states: “In the past at the conquest of Lù campaign, Qín attempted to destroy Jìn’s achievement, Wèi Kē with his own body pursued the Qín army to Fǔshì, personally reaching Dùhuí. This was inscribed on a great bell, so that to the present it has not been forgotten, so his descendants have not failed to prosper.” These were the four inscriptions the Heir-Apparent praised.
- Wèilüè states: Later Tàizǔ campaigned in Hànzhōng, the Heir-Apparent was at Mèngjīn, heard that Yáo had a jade pendant, wanted it but found it difficult to ask for it. He secretly sent a subordinate of the Marquis of Línzī [Cáo Zhí] to tell Yáo, who quickly sent it. The Heir-Apparent wrote to Yáo: “Comparing jade to virtuous gentlemen is illustrating goodness of poets. [The jade treasures] Jìn’s Chúijí, Lǔ’s Yúfán, Sòng’s Jiēlǜ, Chǔ’s Hépú were valued at more then ten thousand gold, more precious than their capitals, praised in past times, with reputation reaching to ours. Thus Chuíjì was taken from Jìn, fought over by Yú and Guó; Hébì [Hépú] was taken to Qín, and they fought one another. I have seen the records of jade, and they relate fine jade white as pure fat, black pure as lacquer, red like a rooster’s crown, yellow as roasted chestnut. I had heard of these reports, but never seen it myself. Though my virtue is not that of a gentleman, my righteousness not of a poet, but high mountain scenery [good conduct] is what I admire and look up toward. But these four treasures were from long ago, and there is no report of Qín and Hàn having anything to compare. So I searched for many years, but could not find anything, my hopes were unfulfilled, and I was hungry and thirsty without help. Lately I heard Nányáng’s Zōng Huìshū praise that you sir had a fine jade, and I heard this in pleasant surprise, and laughed and applauded. I was about to personally write about it, but afraid my message would be insincere, and therefore sent my brother’s follower Xún Zhòngmào to pass along my message. Then you did not fail to understand and generously met my request, the Yè rider arrived, the jade first came here, I knelt and with both hands opened the box, and its splendor enveloped my eyes. I am only of ordinary appearance, but was able to look upon such an extraordinary treasure, without having to bother even one armored envoy, or damaging the value of linked fortresses, whereas Qín Zhāo[-gōng] at Zhāngtái looked upon [Hépú] and sought to seize it by treachery. Such a precious wonder, I dare not but accept it!” Yáo’s reply letter said: “In the past I was closely appointed, and was bestowed with this jade treasure. The aged Utensil Managers thoroughly understand such relics. It is said that from its complexion, they can determine its origin. I believe there are attendants who greatly value such things, and therefore I scorned it, and so had not offered it before. By good fortune you wished for it, and truly I am very pleased. In the past mister Hé was diligent and serious in his loyalty [in presenting the Hépú], whereas I had to be called upon [to present this treasure], and so I am deeply ashamed.”
After several years, he was connected to West Department Official Wèi Fěng who plotted rebellion, so he was dismissed and returned home. (2)
- (2) Wèilüè states: Sūn Quán declared himself servant and beheaded and sent Guān Yǔ. The Heir-Apparent [Cáo Pī] wrote a letter to inform Yáo, and Yáo wrote in reply: “Former Excellency of Works, from your same commandery, Xún Shuǎng said: ‘Men must have principled emotion, how can one who favors just my one person be considered favorable! How can one who detests just my one person be considered detestable!’ Considering Sūn Quán, he is quite charming.” The Heir-Apparent also wrote a letter: “Receiving your answer, I know you are fond of the south. As far as Excellency Xún’s [Shuǎng] pure conversation and Sūn Quán’s charm, I grasped your letter and laughed aloud, and could not set it from my hand. If [Sūn] Quán is again treacherous, then I will deal with him with Rǔnán’s Xǔ Shào’s moon and dawn criticism. [Sūn] Quán is good at shifting between two states [Shǔ and Wèi]. Moving between [the advice of] Xún [Shuǎng] and Xǔ [Shào] is also enough to deal with that.”
When Wén-dì ascended as King , he returned as Grand Judge. At the Ascension, he was changed to Minister of Justice, and advanced in fief to Marquis of Chónggāo village. He was promoted to Grand Commandant, and his fief changed to Marquis of Píngyáng village. At the time he with Excellency over the Masses Huà Xīn and Excellency of Works Wáng Lǎng were all the foremost famous statesmen of the time. After Court Wén-dì said to his attendants: “These three Excellencies are a generation of great men. Later generations will find it difficult to follow after them!” (3)
- (3) Lùshì Yìlín “Mister Lù’s Unusual Stories Collection” states: Yáo once for several months did not attend Court meetings, and his demeanor was unusual. Someone asked the reason, and he said: “Often a pretty woman comes, and her beauty is out of the ordinary.” The questioner said: “It must be a demon, and should be killed.” The woman later passed by, and would not come forward, stopping outside the door. Yáo asked her the reason, and she said: “Your Excellency has intention to kill [me].” Yáo said: “Not so.” Then he earnestly called to her, and therefore she entered. Yáo’s was resentful, but did not have the heart [to kill], and so when chopping was only able to wound her thigh. The woman at once went out, used new silk floss to wipe the blood but left a trail. The next day he sent someone to search and follow it, and it reached a large burial mound. In the coffin was a pretty woman, with appearance like a living person, wearing white garments, red embroidery waistcoat, wounded in the left thigh, with the waistcoat’s silk floss wiping blood. My father’s younger brother the Administrator of Qīnghé said it in this way.
- [The Administrator of] Qīnghé was Lù Yún.
When Míng-dì [Cáo Ruì] succeeded , he was advanced in fief to Marquis of Dìnglíng, his fief increased by 500, adding to the previous to 1800 households, and promoted to Grand Tutor. Yáo had a knee disease, and bowing and rising was inconvenient. At the time Huà Xīn also due to great age was ill, so for Court meetings both were given carriages to ride, and the Tiger Guard carried them up the palace hall and sat them down. Because of this afterward if one of the Three Excellencies was ill, this precedent was followed.
Previously, Tàizǔ sent down an order to have commentators discuss the death penalty and mutilation penalties. Yáo believed: “The ancient mutilation punishments were used during the time of the sagely men, and should be restored, to replace the death penalty.” Other commentators believed this was not the way to please the people, so it was set aside. When Wén-dì was overseeing a feast with the various ministers, he made Imperial Order that said: “The Grand Judge wishes to restore mutilation punishments, and this is truly the method of a sagely ruler. The Excellencies and Ministers should together discuss this.” The debate was not yet decided,when there were military affairs, and it was again set aside.
During Tàihé [227-233] Yáo sent up a memorial that said: “The Great Wèi received the Mandate, continuing the legacy from Yú and Xià. [Hàn] Xiào-Wén’s [Liú Héng r.-180-157] reform of the laws was not in accordance with the ancient ways. The former Emperor’s [Cáo Cāo] sagely virtue was undoubtedly bestowed by Heaven, and with regard to the enterprise of the ancient classics, he could all understand them. Therefore in the next generation [Cáo Pī], there was an enlightened Imperial Order to consider restoring the old penalties, to serve as the dynasty’s law. As there was continuous military affairs, therefore it was not yet enacted. Your Majesty follows after the Two Founder’s final intentions, begrudge chopping off feet in order to prevent evil, despise death penalties [wrongly] applied to the innocent, employ the enlightened to study law and order, and with the various ministers together discuss. To remove the right foot in place of the death penalty, this should again be followed in punishments. The Shū says: “The Emperor clearly asked his subordinate peoples, and the widowers and widowed had complaints against Miáo.” This spoke of how Yáo was about to abolish the punishments of Chī Yóu and Yǒu Miáo, and first investigated those of the subordinate people who had complaints. If now is a time when the imprisonment system is confused, inquire with the Three [Excellencies], Nine [Ministers], the various officials and countless peoples, and if to enact like [Hàn] Xiào-Jǐng’s [Liú Qǐ r.-157-141] order, it is to abandon the revision, and those wishing to chop off the right foot follow this. These face-carving, nose-removal, left foot, and castration punishments, by Xiào-Wén were changed to shaving and whipping. Those capable of fornication, from ages twenty to forty-five, though they have a foot cut off, can still be employed and reproduce. Now in the realm Under Heaven the people are fewer than in the time of Xiào-Wén, and as a lower estimate each year there are born 3000 people. Since Zhāng Cāng abolished the mutilation penalties, those executed each year were about 10,000. I your servant wish to reinstate mutilation penalties, so that each year there can be spared 3000 people. Zǐ Gòng asked if being able to bring relief to the people could be called benevolence, and the Maser said: “To speak of benevolence must one be a saint? Even Yáo and Shùn had faults!” He also said: “Is benevolence too far away? I wish to be benevolent, and this benevolence is reached.” Truly if this is followed, then the people will ever be relieved.”
The memorial was presented, and an Imperial Order said: “The Grand Tutor’s learning is superior and his talent high, he gives his heart to government affairs, and also his reasoning in punishment is profound. In this important affair, the Excellencies and Ministers and all the officials are to together judge and discuss this.”
Excellency over the Masses Wáng Lǎng commented, believing: “Yáo wishes to decrease those classified under death penalties by increasing the number of amputation penalties, but this is to take the fallen down and set it up, to change corpses into men. Though I your Servant am foolish, yet I have some small differences in opinion. In the Five Punishments law provisions there are already laws to commute death one grade, and not death sentence is reduced sentence. This has been in effect for a long time already, and does not require bringing back the ancient past’s hatchets and chisels for mutilation penalties and then establish it as the next punishment tier. The previous generations’ benevolent ones could not bear the cruelty of mutilation punishments, and therefore abolished it and did not use it. Since it was not used, it has been centuries. Now if it is again used, one fears the logic of reduced sentences will not be clear in the eyes of the countless people, and the question of mutilation punishments is already widespread with opponents, and this is not how to win over the distant. For now we can adopt Yáo’s wish to reduce death penalties, and reduce deaths to shaving and foot-amputation. If this is too light, we can increase the years of imprisonment. Inside there will be the kindness of sparing death without, and outside there will be no sound of astonishment of amputations and fetters.”
Of the commentators of over a hundred people, those who agreed with [Wáng] Lǎng were the majority. The Emperor because Wú and Shǔ were not yet pacified again set it aside. (1)
- (1) Yuán Hóng states: [810 character essay on the morality of punishments; not translated here]
Tàihé fourth year , Yáo died. The Emperor wore white [mourning] clothes and led mourning. Posthumous name Chéng-hóu “Accomplished Marquis.” (1) His son Yù succeeded.
- (1) Wèishū states: The officials discussed giving posthumous name, in recognition that Yáo in the past was Minister of Justice, recognizing reason in punishments and imprisonment, determining suspicions and enlightening doubts, and of the people there were none who complained, and this was like Yú and Zhāng had served Hàn. The Imperial Order said: “The Grand Tutor’s achievements were high and virtues were great, his position was that of Teacher and Protector. In discussing the bestowal of posthumous name, one should first consider all this, and also show his virtuous conduct like Ministers of Justice Yú and Zhāng and that is all.” Therefore it was decided his posthumous name would be Chéng-hóu.
Previously, Wén-dì divided Yù’s fief to give fief to Yáo’s younger brother Yǎn and son Shào and grandson Yù as full Marquis.