Spring, Standard Moon, King Wǔ reached Luòyáng; Gēngzǐ [220 Mar 15], died.
The King knew men and was good at observing, it was difficult to deceive him with falseness. In recognizing and selecting out genius, he did not care about humble origins, by ability he appointed and employed, and all obtained their use. When facing the enemy on the battle lines, his thoughts were calm and at ease, as if not intending to battle; but reaching to the decisive point of seizing victory, his spirit was overflowing. Merits and labors he appropriately rewarded, not begrudging a thousand gold; for those lacking achievement yet seeking endowment, not the slightest coin was shared. His use of law was severe and harsh, those with violations were certainly killed, some he would face and weep for them, but to the end none were pardoned. He was temperate in nature and frugal, and did not enjoy illustrious ornamentation. Therefore, he was able to cut down the powerful, nearly pacifying all within the seas.
from Zīzhì Tōngjiān
Cáo Cāo was a very capable man, at the very least a hero. I am no comrade of Cáo Cāo, but no matter what, I always admire him very much.
— Lǔ Xùn 鲁迅 (1888 – 1936)
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