(54.1) Zhōu Yú 周瑜 [Gōngjǐn 公瑾]

(Draft last updated 2021 May 17)

Zhōu Yú appellation Gōngjǐn was a Lújiāng Shū man. His cousin’s grandfather [Zhōu] Jǐng and [Zhōu] Jǐng’s son [Zhōu] Zhōng both were Hàn Grand Commandants. (1) His father [Zhōu] Yì was a Luòyáng Magistrate.


  • Xiè Chéng’s Hòuhànshū states: [Zhōu] Jǐng appellation Zhòngxiàng, when young for his honesty and ability met with praise, for his enlightened learning was nominated as a Filial and Incorrupt candidate, and recruited to the office of the Excellencies. Later he became Inspector of Yùzhōu, recruited Rǔnán’s Chén Fán as Aide-de-Camp, Yǐngchuān’s Lǐ Yīng and Xún Gǔn and Dù Mì, and Pèiguó’s Zhū Yù as Attending Officials, and all of them were the realm Under Heaven’s exceptional scholars. Later he was transferred to Director of the Secretariat, and then ascended to Grand Commandant.
  • Zhāng Fán’s Hànjì states: [Zhōu] Jǐng‘s father [Zhōu] Róng, during the reigns of [Emperors] Zhāng [Liú Dá] and was Secretariat Documenters Director. When [Zhōu] Jǐng was first appointed to a province, he was friendly with and favored scholars, every year the nominated xiàolián he invited over, ascending the rear hall, to with his own family people feast together, and this happened several fours of times. He even gifted them utensils, and also selected and employed their junior relatives, always saying: “These ministers are like sons, so why not treat them like this?” Before this, Excellency over the Masses Hán Yǐn was Administrator of Hénèi, in public affairs had no selfish intentions, and to nominate someone he needed only one word and nothing more, but he also did not use his own household, saying: “I could recommend you, but cannot order all favor to be heaped on our one family.” Of the commentators of that time, some ridiculed the two.

〔一〕 謝承後漢書曰:景字仲嚮,少以廉能見稱,以明學察孝廉,辟公府。後為豫州刺史,辟汝南陳蕃為別駕,潁川李膺、荀緄、杜密、沛國朱寓為從事,皆天下英俊之士也。稍遷至尚書令,遂登太尉。張璠漢紀曰:景父榮,章、和世為尚書令。初景歷位牧守,好善愛士,每歲舉孝廉,延請入,上後堂,與家人宴會,如此者數四。及贈送既備,又選用其子弟,常稱曰:「移臣作子,於政何有?」先是,司徒韓縯為河內太守,在公無私,所舉一辭而已,後亦不及其門戶,曰:「我舉若可矣,不令恩偏稱一家也。」當時論者,或兩譏焉。

Yú when grown had beautiful appearance. Previously, [190] Sūn Jiàn raised righteous troops to punish Dǒng Zhuó, and moved his family to Shū. [Sūn] Jiān’s son [Sūn] Cè and Yú were the same age, were exceptionally friendly with each other, and Yú offered his south side mansion to [Sūn] Cè, ascended the hall to pay respects to his mother, and they shared everything together.


Yú’s cousin’s father [Zhōu] Shàng became Administrator of Dānyáng, Yú went to visit him. At the same time [Sūn] Cè was about to cross eastward, reached Lìyáng, sent hurried letter to Yú, and Yú led troops to jojoin [Sūn] Cè. [Sūn] Cè was greatly pleased and said: “With you, everything will be settled.” Therefore he followed in attacking Héngjiāng, Dānglì, capturing them all. Then they crossed to attack Mòlíng, defeating Zé Róng and Xuē Lǐ, turning to take down Húshú and Jiāngchéng, advancing to enter Qū’ē, and Liú Yáo fled. [Sūn] Cè’s army was already several tens of thousands, so he said to Yú: “I with this army is enough to capture Wú and Kuài[jī] and pacify the Shānyuè. You return to defend Dānyáng.” Yú returned, and shortly afterward Yuán Shù sent his cousin [Yuán] Yǐn to replace [Zhōu] Shàng as Administrator [of Dānyáng], and Yú with [Zhōu] Shàng both returned to Shòuchūn. [Yuán] Shù wished to appoint Yú as a General, but Yú observed that [Yuán] Shù in the end would not be successful, and therefore requested to be Chief of Jūcháo, wishing to secretly return east, and [Yuán] Shù listened to him. Therefore from Jūcháo he returned to Wú. that year was Jiàn’ān third year [198].


[Sūn] Cè personally welcomed Yú, appointing him Establishing Authority Internal-Cadet-General, with two thousand troops and fifty cavalry. (1)


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: [Sūn] Cè also gave Yú drums and pipes, to establish his office, and in bestowments none could compare. [Sūn] Cè’s order said: “Zhōu Gōngjǐn is an outstanding and exceptional talent, my old childhood friend, like my own flesh and bone. Like before at Dānyáng, he set out with army and boats of provisions to aide my great affair, and in discussing virtue and rewarding achievements, this is not yet enough to repay him.”

〔一〕 江表傳曰:策又給瑜鼓吹,為治館舍,贈賜莫與為比。策令曰:「周公瑾英雋異才,與孤有總角之好,骨肉之分。如前在丹楊,發眾及船糧以濟大事,論德酬功,此未足以報者也。」

Yú at the time was twenty years, and in Wú all called him Cadet Zhōu. Because Yú’s favor and faith was known in Lújiāng, he was sent out to defend Niúzhǔ, and later had office as Chief of Chūngǔ. Shortly afterward, [Sūn] Cè wished to capture Jīngzhōu, and so appointed Yú Central Protector of the Army, wth office as Administrator of Jiāngxià, he followed in attacking Huàn, and captured it.


At the time they obtained Excellency Qiáo’s two daughters, and both were exceptional beauties. [Sūn] Cè himself accepted [as concubine] the elder Qiáo, and Yú accepted the younger Qiáo. (2)


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: [Sūn] Cè casually joked with Yú: “Though Excellency Qiáo’s two daughters are in exile, with the two of us as son-in-laws, it should be enough to be pleased.”

〔二〕 江表傳曰:策從容戲瑜曰:「橋公二女雖流離,得吾二人作婿,亦足為歡。」

He again advanced to Xúnyáng, defeated Liú Xūn, attacked Jiāngxià, returned to settle Yùzhāng and Lúlíng, and remained to defend Bāqiū. (3)


  • Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Sūn Cè at the time first obtained Yùzhāng and Lúlíng, and so was not yet able to settle Jiāngxià. Yú’s defense should the present Bāqiū county, and with the later Bāqiū [different location of the same name] where he died is not the same.

〔三〕 臣松之案:孫策于時始得豫章、廬陵,尚未能得定江夏。瑜之所鎮,應在今巴丘縣也,與後所(平)〔卒〕巴丘處不同。

Fifth year [200], [Sūn] Cè died, and [Sūn] Quán governed matters. Yú led troops to attend the funeral, and therefore remained at Wú, as the Central Protector of the Army and with Chief Clerk Zhāng Zhāo together controlling all affairs. (1)


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: Excellency Cáo had newly defeated Yuán Shào, his military power daily flourished. Jiàn’ān seventh year [202], he sent down letter ordering [Sūn] Quán to send a son as hostage. [Sūn] Quán summoned the various ministers for a conference, and Zhāng Zhāo and Qín Sòng and others were hesitant and could not decide, [Sūn] Quán did not wish to send a hostage, and therefore alone brought Yú to visit his mother to first decide. Yú said: “In the past Chǔ state was first established as a fief beside Jīng mountain, a territory not even a hundred lǐ, but by the succession of the worthy and able, they expanded territory and opened borders, setting foundation at Yǐng, and therefore occupied Jīng and Yáng, reaching the south sea, continuing their enterprise and securing their reign for over nine hundred years. Now you General carry on your father and elder brother’s resources, wielding the army of six commanderies, your troops elite and grain abundant, officers and soldiers obedient to command, you can mine mountains for copper, boil the sea for salt, within the borders is fertile and rich, people do not think of treachery. Riding a boat swiftly, in the morning setting out and in the evening arriving, with troops stalwart and brave, wherever you head you have no match, so what is there to threaten you, to have you wish to send hostage? Just sending one hostage, is enough to become the tail to the Cáo clan’s head, so that if orders summon you then you cannot but go, and then you would be controlled by another. You would have no better than a marquis’s seal, about ten servants, a few carriages, a few horses, and how can that be the same as facing south and declaring sovereignty? It is better to not send, and watch for changes. If the Cáo clan is able to read righteousness to settle the realm Under Heaven, the matter would not be too late, General. If he plots treachery, then war will be like fire, and the careless will burn themselves. You General are valorous and powerful, and so can wait for Heaven’s mandate. What need is there to send hostage?” [Sūn] Quán’s mother said: “Gōngjǐn’s suggestion is right. Gōngjǐn is of the same year as [Sūn Cè] Bófú, only one month younger. I look on him like a son. You should treat him as an elder brother.” Therefore he did not send hostage.

〔一〕 江表傳曰:曹公新破袁紹,兵威日盛,建安七年,下書責權質任子。權召群臣會議,張昭、秦松等猶豫不能決,權意不欲遣質,乃獨將瑜詣母前定議,瑜曰:「昔楚國初封於荊山之側,不滿百里之地,繼嗣賢能,廣土開境,立基於郢,遂據荊楊,至於南海,傳業延祚,九百餘年。今將軍承父兄餘資,兼六郡之眾,兵精糧多,將士用命,鑄山為銅,煮海為鹽,境內富饒,人不思亂,汎舟舉帆,朝發夕到,士風勁勇,所向無敵,有何偪迫,而欲送質?質一入,不得不與曹氏相首尾,與相首尾,則命召不得不往,便見制於人也。極不過一侯印,僕從十餘人,車數乘,馬數匹,豈與南面稱孤同哉?不如勿遣,徐觀其變。若曹氏能率義以正天下,將軍事之未晚。若圖為暴亂,兵猶火也,不戢將自焚。將軍韜勇抗威,以待天命,何送質之有!」權母曰:「公瑾議是也。公瑾與伯符同年,小一月耳,我視之如子也,汝其兄事之。」遂不送質。

Eleventh year [206], he commanded Sūn Yú and others to attack Má and Bǎo, two camps, killing their chief commanders, capturing over then thousand prisoners, and returned to defend Gōngtíng. Administrator of Jiāngxià Huáng Zǔ sent General Dèng Lóng to command troops of several thousand men to enter Cháisāng, Yú pursued and attacked, capturing alive [Dèng] Lóng and sending him to Wú.


Thirteenth year [208] spring, [Sūn] Quán attacked Jiāngxià, and Yú became the Front Division Chief Commander.


That year ninth moon, Excellency Cáo entered Jīngzhōu, Liú Cóng led his army to surrender, Excellency Cáo obtained their river army, boats and infantry of several hundred thousands. The officers and soldiers heard this and all were afraid. [Sūn] Quán met with his subordinates, and asked for a plan. The commentators all said: “Excellency Cáo is a ferocious tiger, entrusted with title as Hàn’s Chancellor, wielding Heaven’s Son in order to campaign everywhere, and his actions have the Imperial Court as his excuse. Today if we resist him, the matter will be very unfavorable. Moreover your greatest strength and ability to resist [Cáo] Cāo, General, is the Cháng Jiāng. Now [Cáo] Cāo has obtained Jīngzhōu, suddenly possessing its territory. Liú Biǎo’s trained navy, chargers and warships of several thousand, [Cáo] Cāo has it all along the Jiāng, combined with infantry, and by water and land he goes down[stream], so this defense of the Cháng Jiāng, he already has it as much as we do. But our power and army is few, and cannot be compared, so we humbly say the best plan is to submit to him.”


Yú said: “Not so. Though [Cáo] Cāo is entrusted with title as Hàn’s Chancellor, in truth he is Hàn’s traitor. With your divine military and heroic ability, General, wielding your father’s and elder brother’s fiercness, you established separate occupation east of the Jiāng, the territory is of several thousand lǐ, troops elite enough to use, heroes pleased to serve, and should sweep across the realm Under Heaven, to remove and destroy the evil from the Hàn house. Moreover [Cáo] Cāo is coming to his own doom, so how can we submit to him? I ask to suggest this to you General: Now is the north already secure, so that [Cáo] Cāo has no internal worries, is able to remain long, and when coming to contest the borders, is able to with us decide victory or defeat aboard ships and among oars? Now the northern territories is not yet pacified, and moreover Mǎ Chāo and Hán Suì are still west of the Passes, serving as a worry to [Cáo] Cāo’s rear. Moreover he has given up his saddled horses, to use boats and oars, to contest dominance with Wú and Yuè, which is not the central states’ strength. Also now it is exceedingly cold, the horses have no hay, he has driven the armies of the central states far among the rivers and lakes, who are not accustomed to the water and soil, and there will certainly be sickness. These four points, are reasons against using troops, but [Cáo] Cāo ignores all of them to go. General the time for you to capture [Cáo] Cāo is today. I ask for elite troops of thirty thousand men, to advance to occupy Xiàkǒu, to defend and defeat them for you General.”


[Sūn] Quán said: “The old traitor has long wished to overthrow the Hàn and establish himself, but did not only because he feared the two Yuán, Lǚ Bù, Liú Biǎo, and myself. Now the other powerful figures are already destroyed, and only I remain. I and the old traitor, we two cannot exist together. Your advice to attack, is deeply in agreement with my wish. This is Heaven bestowing you to assist me.” (1)


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: [Sūn] Quán drew his single-edged sword and chopped the table in front of him and said: “The officers and officials who dare again advise submitting to [Cáo] Cāo, will be dealt with the same as this table!” When the meeting was dismissed, that night yú asked to meet and said: “The others saw [Cáo] Cāo’s letter, saying his navy and army were eight hundred thousand, and so were all terrified, not considering its accuracy, quickly making their proposal [to submit], and this is deeply without meaning. Now considering its accuracy, the others men from the central states, cannot be more than one hundred fifty to sixty thousand, and moreover their army is already weary. Their gain of [Liú] Biǎo’s army, also at most could only be seventy or eight thousand, and must harbor doubts. With tired and ill troops, and a doubtful army, though their numbers are many, they are very much nothing to fear. With elite troops of fifty thousand, it would be enough to deal with them. May you not worry General.” [Sūn] Quán rubbed his back and said: “Gōngjǐn, your words thus far are deeply in agreement with my heart. [Zhāng Zhāo] Zǐbù and [Qín Sòng] Wénbiǎo and the others, each consider their wives and children, focus on their private worries, and deeply fail my hopes. Only you and [Lǔ Sù] Zǐjìng agree with me. This is Heaven giving you two to support me. Fifty thousand troops is difficult to gather, but I have already picked thirty thousand, the boats and provisions and war equipment already prepared. You and [Lǔ Sù] Zǐjìng and Lord Chéng [Pǔ] will set out at the front, and I will follow with an army, greatly transporting supplies and provisions, to be your rear support. You are certainly able to manage things, but if by chance it is not as you hope, then return to join me, and I will settle things with [Cáo Cāo] Mèngdé.”
  • Your Servant Sōngzhī believes the plan to resist Excellency Cáo was truly first made by Lǔ Sù. At the time Zhōu Yú was sent to Póyáng, [Lǔ] Sù urged [Sūn] Quán to call for Yú, and Yú from Póyáng returned. but with [Lǔ] Sù agreed, and therefore they were able to together accomplish a great achievement. The base biography says [Sūn] Quán met with his subordinates, and asked for a plan, and Yú separated from the suggestions of everyone else, along advising a plan for resistance, and does not say that [Lǔ] Sù first had the plan, perhaps to reject [Lǔ] Sù’s goodness.

〔一〕 江表傳曰:權拔刀斫前奏案曰:「諸將吏敢復有言當迎操者,與此案同!」及會罷之夜,瑜請見曰:「諸人徒見操書,言水步八十萬,而各恐懾,不復料其虛實,便開此議,甚無謂也。今以實校之,彼所將中國人,不過十五六萬,且軍已久疲,所得表眾,亦極七八萬耳,尚懷狐疑。夫以疲病之卒,御狐疑之眾,眾數雖多,甚未足畏。得精兵五萬,自足制之,願將軍勿慮。」權撫背曰:「公瑾,卿言至此,甚合孤心。子布、文表諸人,各顧妻子,挾持私慮,深失所望,獨卿與子敬與孤同耳,此天以卿二人贊孤也。五萬兵難卒合,已選三萬人,船糧戰具俱辦,卿與子敬、程公便在前發,孤當續發人眾,多載資糧,為卿後援。卿能辦之者誠決,邂逅不如意,便還就孤,孤當與孟德決之。」臣松之以為建計拒曹公,實始魯肅。于時周瑜使鄱陽,肅勸權呼瑜,瑜使鄱陽還,但與肅闇同,故能共成大勳。本傳直云,權延見群下,問以計策,瑜擺撥眾人之議,獨言抗拒之計,了不云肅先有謀,殆為攘肅之善也。

At the time Liú Bèi was by Excellency Cáo defeated, and wished to go south across the Jiāng, encountered Lǔ Sù at Dāngyáng, and therefore made plans together, and so advanced to occupy Xiàkǒu, sending Zhūgě Liàng to visit [Sūn] Quán, and [Sūn] Quán therefore sent Yú and Chéng Pǔ and others to join forces with [Liú] Bèi to oppose Excellency Cáo, encountering him at Chìbì. At the time Excellency Cáo’s army already had illness, and in the first battle, the Excellency’s army was defeated and retreated, and withdrew to the Jiāng’s north side. Yú and the rest were on the southern bank. Yú’s subordinate General Huáng Gài said: “Now the enemy is many and we are few, and it is difficult to resist for long. But observing [Cáo] Cāo’s army the ships are packed together head to tail, they be burned to make them flee.” Therefore he gathered covered chargers and warships of several tens, filled with firewood and grass, moistened with oil and pour inside, bound with heavy curtains, setting up ivory banners. First he sent letter to Excellency Cáo, falsely claiming he wished to surrender. (1) He also prepared barges, each fastened a great boat, and so all went forward.


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn records [Huáng] Gài’s letter: “I received the Sūn clan’s generous favor, always serving as their commander, and this has not decreased. But considering that the realm Under Heaven’s matters have great power, and using the Jiāng’s east’s six commanderies’ Shānyuè people, to resist the central states’ army of millions, the army is few and no match, and all within the seas can also see it. The east’s officers and officials, whether foolish or wise, all know this is impossible, but only Zhōu Yú and Lǔ Sù are shallow and stupid, and do not understand. Today I submit, because of this honest consideration. What Yú commands is easy to break and destroy. On the day of battle, I will be the front division, and will to at the right situation change sides, to put into your effect your orders from the inside.” Excellency Cáo specially met with the messenger, and secretly asked him, orally commanding him: “Though I fear you are only cheating me, if [Huáng] Gài is trustworthy, then the ranks and rewards he will receive will surpass all others before and after.”

〔一〕 江表傳載蓋書曰:「蓋受孫氏厚恩,常為將帥,見遇不薄。然顧天下事有大勢,用江東六郡山越之人,以當中國百萬之眾,眾寡不敵,海內所共見也。東方將吏,無有愚智,皆知其不可,惟周瑜、魯肅偏懷淺戇,意未解耳。今日歸命,是其實計。瑜所督領,自易摧破。交鋒之日,蓋為前部,當因事變化,效命在近。」曹公特見行人,密問之,口敕曰:「但恐汝詐耳。蓋若信實,當授爵賞,超於前後也。」

Excellency Cáo’s army’s officials and soldiers all craned their necks to watch, pointed and said [Huáng] Gài was surrendering. [Huáng] Gài released all the boats, at the same time setting fire. At the time the wind was strong and fierce, and helping extend the burning of the river bank’s camps to nothing. Shortly after, the smoke and flame reached the sky, the men and horses burned and drowned and dead were very many, the army therefore was defeated and fled, and returned to defend Nánjùn. (2) [Liú] Bèi with Yú and the others again together pursued. Excellency Cáo left Cáo Rén and others to defend Jīanglíng city, and quickly himself returned north.


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states: On the battle day, [Huáng] Gài first gathered ten large light warships, carrying dry reads and firewood stored inside, poured with fish oil, with red curtains covering it, and set up banners and dragon flags atop the warships. At the time the southeastern wind was pressing hard, and so the ten warships were at the front most, and in the middle of the Jiāng they raised their sails, [Huáng] Gài raised a signal fire to inform all his officers, to have the army soldiers all greatly shout together: “We surrender.” [Cáo] Cāo’s army men all left camp to go look. When they were two lǐ away from the northern army, at the same time they set fire, the fire was fierce in the ferocious wind, and the ships went like arrows, flying dust blocking out light, and completely burned the northern ships, reaching up to the shore’s camps and wood. Yú and the rest led light elite troops to follow afterward, with thundering drums greatly advanced, the northern army was greatly broken, and Excellency Cáo retreated and fled.

〔二〕 江表傳曰:至戰日,蓋先取輕利艦十舫,載燥荻枯柴積其中,灌以魚膏,赤幔覆之,建旌旗龍幡於艦上。時東南風急,因以十艦最著前,中江舉帆,蓋舉火白諸校,使眾兵齊聲大叫曰:「降焉!」操軍人皆出營立觀。去北軍二里餘,同時發火,火烈風猛,往船如箭,飛埃絕爛,燒盡北船,延及岸邊營柴。瑜等率輕銳尋繼其後,雷鼓大進,北軍大壞,曹公退走。

Yú with Chéng Pǔ also advanced to Nánjùn, opposed [Cáo] Rén, on each side of the great Jiāng. The troops had not yet crossed lances, (1) and Yú promptly sent Gān Níng ahead to occupy Yílíng.


  • Wúlù states: [Liú] Bèi said to Yú: “[Cáo] Rén defends Jīanglíng city, and inside the city provisions are many, enough to be a concern. I will send Zhāng [Fēi] Yìdé to command a thousand men to accompany you, and you divide two thousand men to follow me, and together we will follow the Xià river to cut off [Cáo] Rén’s rear. [Cáo] Rén will hear we have arrived and certainly flee.” Yú gave him two thousand men.

〔一〕 吳錄曰:備謂瑜云:「仁守江陵城,城中糧多,足為疾害。使張益德將千人隨卿,卿分二千人追我,相為從夏水人截仁後,仁聞吾入必走。」瑜以二千人益之

[Cáo] Rén divided his troops and cavalry to attack and besiege [Gān] Níng. [Gān] Níng reported emergency to Yú. Yú used Lǚ Méng’s plan, leaving Líng Tǒng to defend their rear, while personally with [Lǚ] Méng going up to rescue [Gān] Níng. [Gān] Níng’s besiegement was relieved, and therefore they crossed to garrison the north bank, and set a time for a great battle. Yú personally rode horse on the front lines, and was by a stray arrow hit in the right side. The wound was deep, and so he returned. Later [Cáo] Rén heard Yú was lying and could not rise, and readied troops in battle lines. Yú therefore rose, inspected the army camps, encouraging the officials and troops, and [Cáo] Rén because of this then retreated.


[Sūn] Quán appointed Yú as Supporting General, with office as Administrator of Nánjùn, with Xiàjuàn, Hànchāng, Liúyáng, and Zhōulíng as his supporting fief, and garrison at Jīanglíng. Liú Bèi as General of the Left took office as Governor of Jīngzhōu, governing at Gōng’ān. [Liú] Bèi visited their capital to meet [Sūn] Quán, and Yú sent up memorial: “Liú Bèi has the disposition of a ruthless and formidable person, and has bear and tiger Generals Guān Yǔ and Zhāng Fēi, and certainly will not long submit to serve another. I humbly say the best plan is to move [Liú] Bèi to Wú, build for him a palace, give him many beautiful woman to play with, to amuse his ears and eyes, divide the other two, each to one place, and send someone like me to command them to battle, and so the great undertakign can be settled. Now if territory is divided to give him a foundation, and these three are allowed to gather on our border, I fear it is like a rain dragon reaching the clouds, to never again be constrained to a pool.”


[Sūn] Quán because Excellency Cáo was to the north thought it appropriate to gathr and support heroes, and also feared [Liú] Bèi would be difficult to control, and therefore did not accept.


At the time Liú Zhāng was Governor of Yìzhōu, outside Zhāng Lǔ was invading and encroaching, so Yú therefore visited the capital to meet [Sūn] Quán and said: “Now Cáo Cāo is newly beaten, because he had concerns on the inside, and was net yet able to fully with you General face troops to decide matters. I ask to with [General] Exerting Authority [Sūn Yú] to together advance to capture Shǔ, after obtaining Shǔ conquer Zhāng Lǔ, and then leave [General] Exerting Authority to firmly defend the territory, and form alliance with Mǎ Chāo. I will return to with you General capture Xiāngyáng to distress [Cáo] Cāo, and the north can be taken.” [Sūn] Quán permitted this.


Yú returned to Jiānglíng, made preparations to go, but on the road at Bāqiū fell ill and died, (1) at the time aged thirty six years.


  • Your Servant Sōngzhī comments: Yú wished to capture Shǔ, returned to Jiānglíng to make preparations, so the place that he died, should be the present Bālíng. The previous Bāqiū he defended was of the same name but a different place.

〔一〕 臣松之案,瑜欲取蜀,還江陵治嚴,所卒之處,應在今之巴陵,與前所鎮巴丘,名同處異也。

[Sūn] Quán wore mourning clothes and led mourning, emotionally moving his attendants. The body was returned to Wú for the funeral, and he welcomed it at Wúhú, and all the costs and expenses, he completely supplied. Later he set out order that said: “Former Generals Zhōu Yú and Chéng Pǔ, of their people and retainers, all are not to be asked [for taxes].”


Previously Yú met with friendship from [Sūn] Cè, and [Sūn Cè’s mother] the Grand Consort also had [Sūn] Quán treat him as an elder brother. At the time when [Sūn] Quán’s rank became a General, the various officers and retainers in their ritual courtesy were simple, but Yú alone was first to be of utmost veneration, to then cause the other ministers to follow. By nature he was very open, and almost everyone he won over, only with Chéng Pǔ were they not friendly. (2)


  • Jiāngbiǎozhuàn states:
    • [Chéng] Pǔ relied on being older, to repeatedly insult Yú. Yú humbly deferred to him, and to the end would not bicker with him. [Chéng] Pǔ later himself admired and became close with him, and therefore informed others: “Dealing with Zhōu Gōngjǐn is like drinking strong liquor. Without noticing you intoxicate yourself.” People at the time thus knew his modest deference in treating others was like this.
    • Previously Excellency Cáo heard Yú was young but had great talent, and believed someone could be sent to persuade and recruit him, and therefore he secretly sent down message to Yángzhōu, sending Jiǔjiāng’s Jiǎng Gàn to go meet Yú. [Jiǎng] Gàn had good bearing, and for his ability in debate met with praise, alone he walked among the Jiāng and Huái, and none could match him. Therefore in plain clothes and hemp head cloth, he went privately to visit Yú. Yú went out to welcome him, and said to [Jiǎng] Gàn: “Zǐyì you have gone through much hardship, have you distantly crossed the rivers and lakes to be a lobbyist for the Cáo?” [Jiǎng] Gàn said: “I and you sir are of the same province region, but have been separated, and from afar I heard of your fragrant reputation, and therefore came to chat broadly, and also observe your elegant conduct, but you say I am a lobbyist, why be so suspicious?” Yú said: “Though I do not match Kuí or Kuàng, I can hear tones, and that is enough to know your intentions.” Therefore he kept [Jiǎng] Gàn inside, preparing drink and food. When it was finished, he sent him off saying: “Right now I have secret matters, so for the time being go out to stay in the nearby building. When the matter is finished, we can again be close.” After three days, Yú invited [Jiǎng] Gàn to together tour the inside of the camps, and when the inspections of the storehouses and military supplies and weapons finished, they returned to drink, showing him the clothes and treasures bestowed on him, and therefore said to [Jiǎng] Wèi: “A man in this world, when encountering and knowing his master, outside must be faithful to the righteousness between ruler and minister, and inside hold to the kindness of one’s flesh and bone [kin]. In words and actions plan on following, sharing with him disaster and fortune. Supposing if [the great diplomats] Sū [Qín] or [Zhāng] Yì were alive again, or elder Lì again about, I would just pat their backs and discount their words, so how could you sir with your youth be enough to move me?” [Jiǎng] Gàn only laughed, and to the end did not say anything. [Jiǎng] Gàn returned, praised Yù as magnanimous with high character, and not someone to be persuaded by words. The scholars of the central provinces also because of this admired him.
    • When Liú Bèi was leaving the capital to go back, [Sūn] Quán rode a fast and large boat, with Zhāng Zhāo, Qín Sōng, Lǔ Sù, and others of over ten men together sent him off, and had a great feast to say farewell. [Zhāng] Zhāo and [Lǔ] Sù and the others first departed, and [Sūn] Quán alone with [Liú] Bèi remained to talk, and therefore as [Liú Bèi] talked he sighed about Yú and said: “Gōngjǐn’s civil and military ability, is outstanding beyond countless others, and considering his ability is so great, I only fear he will not long be a servant of another.” When Yú defeated the Wèi army, Excellency Cáo said: “I am not ashamed to have retreated.” Later he wrote letter to [Sūn] Quán that said: “At the Chìbì campaign, it happened that there was disease, so I burned ships and myself retreated, and unexpectedly caused Zhōu Yú to falsely obtain this reputation.” Yú’s authority and prestige was distantly known, and therefore Excellency Cáo and Liú Bèi both wished to slander him to cause doubt of him.
    • When he died, [Sūn] Quán wept and said: “Gōngjǐn had the ability to assist rulers, now that he has died young, on whom can I rely on?” Later [Sūn] Quán claimed Imperial Title, and said to his Excellencies and Ministers: “If I had not had Zhōu Gōngjǐn, I would not be Emperor.”

〔二〕 江表傳曰:普頗以年長,數陵侮瑜。瑜折節容下,終不與校。普後自敬服而親重之,乃告人曰:「與周公瑾交,若飲醇醪,不覺自醉。」時人以其謙讓服人如此。初曹公聞瑜年少有美才,謂可游說動也,乃密下揚州,遣九江蔣幹往見瑜。幹有儀容,以才辯見稱,獨步江、淮之間,莫與為對。乃布衣葛巾,自託私行詣瑜。瑜出迎之,立謂幹曰:「子翼良苦,遠涉江湖為曹氏作說客邪?」幹曰:「吾與足下州里,中間別隔,遙聞芳烈,故來敘闊,并觀雅規,而云說客,無乃逆詐乎?」瑜曰:「吾雖不及夔、曠,聞弦賞音,足知雅曲也。」因延幹入,為設酒食。畢,遣之曰:「適吾有密事,且出就館,事了,別自相請。」後三日,瑜請幹與周觀營中,行視倉庫軍資器仗訖,還宴飲,示之侍者服飾珍玩之物,因謂幹曰:「丈夫處世,遇知己之主,外託君臣之義,內結骨肉之恩,言行計從,禍福共之,假使蘇張更生,酈叟復出,猶撫其背而折其辭,豈足下幼生所能移乎?」幹但笑,終無所言。幹還,稱瑜雅量高致,非言辭所閒。中州之士,亦以此多之。劉備之自京還也,權乘飛雲大船,與張昭、秦松、魯肅等十餘人共追送之,大宴會敘別。昭、肅等先出,權獨與備留語,因言次,歎瑜曰:「公瑾文武籌略,萬人之英,顧其器量廣大,恐不久為人臣耳。」瑜之破魏軍也,曹公曰:「孤不羞走。」後書與權曰:「赤壁之役,值有疾病,孤燒船自退,橫使周瑜虛獲此名。」瑜威聲遠著,故曹公、劉備咸欲疑譖之。及卒,權流涕曰:「公瑾有王佐之資,今忽短命,孤何賴哉!」後權稱尊號,謂公卿曰:「孤非周公瑾,不帝矣。」

Yú when young was exceptionally good with music, and even after three goblets, if there was an error, Yú was certain to know it, and knowing it certain to turn to it, and therefore people of the time had a rhyme: “When the music errs, Cadet Zhōu turns.”


Yú had two sons and one daughter. The daughter was wed to Heir-Apparent [Sūn] Dēng. The son [Zhōu] Xún was bestowed a princess [in marriage], appointed Cavalry Commandant, had Yú’s manner, and died young. [Zhōu] Xún’s younger brother [Zhōu] Yìn, first was appointed Raising Enterprise Commandant, wed a daughter of the Imperial Clan, received a thousand troops, garrisoning Gōng’ān. Huánglóng first year [229] he was given fief as Marquis of Dū village. Later for a crime he was exiled to Lúlíng commandery.


Chìwū second year [239], Zhūgě Jǐn, Bù Zhì together signed and sent up petition that said: “Former General Zhōu Yú’s son Yìn, in the past was immersed in favor and adornment, receiving title as a General, but could not maintain this fortune, think of establishing achievement and efficacy, instead acting by his own wishes, quickly bringing upon himself punishment. We your servants humbly believe Yú in the past met with favor and appointment, entering to serve as heart and backbone [trusted aide], going out to serve as claws and teeth [battlefield fighter], receiving orders to go out on campaign, personally facing arrows and stones, with his utmost integrity following commands, facing death without fear. Therefore he was able to defeat Cáo Cāo at Wūlín, drive away Cáo Rén at Yǐngdū [Jiānglíng], raise up the state’s prestige and virtue, so that the central plains were shaken. He suppressed the Jīng region, so none did not submit. Even Zhōu’s Fāngshū or Hàn’s [Hán] Xìn and [Yīng] Bù truly cannot be honored as better. The servants for striking and defending against trouble, since ancient times there were no rulers who did not heavily value them, and therefore Hàn Gāo-dì [Liú Bāng] when bestowing fiefs made the Oath: “Even if the Yellow River changed course, or Tài Mountain were ground down, if the state is still preserved, then your descendants will continue,” and extended to them a Red Letter [to pardon any crime], heavily swore oath [with a white horse’s blood], stored it in the Ancestral Temples, to pass down without end, wishing to allow the meritorious ministers’ descendants, to from generation to generation succeed after each other, and when there were no direct posterity, then search for other descendants, in order to repay virtues and to make known achievements, industriously and sincerely, and it went so far as this, out of a wish to encourage later people, to be servants following commands, who face death without regrets. Moreover Yú has not been gone for very long, but his son [Zhōu] Yìn has been demoted to commoner, and this is increasingly lamentable and tragic. We humbly ask Your majesty to personally illuminate and study the ancients, to greatly restore succession, and call [Zhōu] Yìn to return, and beg you to forgive his remaining crimes, return his troops and restore his title, so that a rooster that missed a morning, can again be able to crow, and allow guilty ministers, to afterward exert themselves in action.”


[Sūn] Quán answered: “My stomach and heart [trusted aide] with old achievements, who joined with me in matters, that was Gōngjǐn, and I truly do not forget him. In the past Yìn was young, and in the beginning had no achievements, yet received elite troops, was titled as a marquis and general, all because the remembrance of Gōngjǐn was passed onto [Zhōu] Yìn. But [Zhōu] Yìn relied on this, was drunk and wanton and without restraint, and though from beginning to end was warned, he never reformed or changed. My feelings for Gōngjǐn are the same as you two, and would be happy for [Zhōu] Yìn to succeed, how can this not be the case? Because [Zhōu] Yìn’s crimes, it is not yet suitable to bring him back, and moreover I wish to have him go through hardship, to allow him to be self aware and that is all. Now you two sirs sincerely cite Hàn Gāo’s River and Mountain Oath, and I because of it am ashamed. Though my virtue is not at that level, yet my wishes are similar, but the matter had become like this, and therefore I cannot yet follow your wish. Because he is Gōngjǐn’s son, and with you two as intermediaries, if he can be reformed, then what is there to worry?”


[Zhūgě] Jǐn and [Bù] Zhì repeatedly sent this up, and Zhū Rán and Quán Cóng also joined in begging, and [Sūn] Quán therefore permitted it. It happened that [Zhōu] Yìn fell ill and died.


Yú’s elder brother’s son Jùn, also because of Yú’s foundational achievement became Supporting General, with command of a thousand officials and soldiers. Jùn died, and Quán Cóng memorialized Jùn’s son Hù as General. [Sūn] Quán said: “in the past driving away Cáo Cāo, expanding into Jīngzhōu, all was because of Gōngjǐn, and I will never forget him. When I first heard Jùn had died, I had wished to appoint Hù, but heard Hù in nature and conduct is dangerous, and employing him would lead to disaster, and therefore stopped. I miss Gōngjǐn, how can it be otherwise?”


1 thought on “(54.1) Zhōu Yú 周瑜 [Gōngjǐn 公瑾]

  1. Pingback: (55.2) Huáng Gài 黃蓋 [Gōngfù 公覆] | Three States Records

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