A Qing Dynasty block print illustration of Zhou Yu
|General of Sun Quan|
|Died||210 (aged 35)|
|Courtesy name||Gongjin (Chinese: 公瑾; pinyin: Gōngjǐn; Wade–Giles: Kung-chin)|
|Other names||"Mei Zhou Lang" (Chinese: 美周郎; pinyin: Měi Zhōu Láng; Wade–Giles: Mei Chou Lang; literally "Zhou the handsome youth")|
Zhou Yu (175–210), courtesy name Gongjin, was a military general and strategist serving under the warlord Sun Ce in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He continued serving under Sun Quan (Sun Ce's younger brother and successor) after Sun Ce died in 200 CE. Around late 208, the northern warlord Cao Cao led his forces south with the intention of conquering the Jiangdong region (where Sun Quan's territories were based), but was defeated by Sun's forces under Zhou Yu's command at the decisive Battle of Red Cliffs. Zhou Yu served as the frontline commander of Sun Quan's forces at the Battle of Jiangling (a follow-up to Red Cliffs) and defeated Cao Cao's forces again. Zhou Yu's victories helped to solidify the survivability of Sun Quan's regime, which would serve as the foundation of the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). He died in 210 at a relatively young age of 35 while preparing for a conquest of the Bashu region (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing).
- 1 Family background
- 2 Service under Sun Ce
- 3 Service under Sun Quan
- 4 Death
- 5 Family
- 6 Personal life
- 7 In fiction and popular culture
- 8 Modern references
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
Zhou Yu was a native of Shu (舒), Lujiang (廬江), which is in present-day Shucheng County, Lu'an, Anhui. Two of his relatives — his father's elder cousin, Zhou Jing (周景); Zhou Jing's son, Zhou Zhong (周忠) — served as the "Grand Commandant" (太尉) in the Han imperial court. Zhou Yu's father, Zhou Yi (周異), was the Prefect (令) of the imperial capital Luoyang.[Sanguozhi 1]
Service under Sun Ce
Befriending Sun Ce
Around 190, when Sun Jian raised an army to join the campaign against Dong Zhuo, he relocated his family from Changsha (長沙; covering present-day Changsha and parts of Hunan) to Shu, Lujiang. In Shu, Zhou Yu met and befriended Sun Jian's eldest son Sun Ce, who was about the same age as him. Zhou Yu offered to let Sun Ce and his family stay with him, and he paid respects to Sun Ce's mother Lady Wu as though she was his real mother. Zhou Yu and Sun Ce became very close friends.[Sanguozhi 2]
Assisting Sun Ce in conquering Jiangdong
Zhou Yu later travelled to Danyang (丹楊; covering parts of present-day Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui) to join his uncle Zhou Shang (周尚), who was serving as the Administrator (太守) of the commandery. Around 194, Sun Ce, under a commission from the warlord Yuan Shu, entered Yang Province to aid his relatives, Wu Jing and Sun Ben, who were under attack by another warlord Liu Yao. When Sun Ce was at Liyang (歷陽; present-day He County, Anhui) and was preparing to cross the Yangtze River to attack Liu Yao, he sent a messenger to inform Zhou Yu about his plans. Zhou Yu led some troops to assist Sun Ce. Sun Ce was delighted and he said to Zhou Yu, "With you, greatness can be attained!"[Sanguozhi 3]
Zhou Yu then joined Sun Ce in his conquests of Hengjiang (橫江; southeast of present-day He County, Anhui, on the northern shore of the Chang River) and Dangli (當利; east of present-day He County, Anhui) and achieved success. They crossed the Yangtze River and captured Moling (秣陵; in present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu), defeating Ze Rong and Xue Li. They also conquered Hushu (湖孰; southeast of present-day Jiangning, Jiangsu), Jiangcheng (江乘; north of present-day Jurong, Jiangsu), and Qu'e (曲阿; present-day Danyang, Jiangsu). Liu Yao fled after his defeats, and by then, the strength of Sun Ce's forces had reached tens of thousands.[Sanguozhi 4]
Later service under Sun Ce
Sun Ce told Zhou Yu, "I now have sufficient military power to conquer Wu and pacify the Shanyue. You can return to Danyang and defend there." Zhou Yu then made his way back to Danyang. Around 196, Yuan Shu had sent his cousin Yuan Yin to replace Zhou Shang as the Administrator of Danyang, so Zhou Shang and Zhou Yu headed towards Shouchun (壽春; present-day Shou County, Lu'an, Anhui), the capital of Yuan Shu's territories, to meet Yuan. Yuan Shu wanted to recruit Zhou Yu to serve under him, but Zhou felt that Yuan would not become successful eventually, so he pretended to request for the post of Chief (長) of Juchao (居巢; present-day Juchao District, Chaohu, Anhui) while secretly planning to escape to join Sun Ce. After Yuan Shu agreed to his request, Zhou Yu headed towards Wu via Juchao.
In 198, Zhou Yu arrived in Wu, where he was personally received and welcomed by Sun Ce. Sun Ce appointed Zhou Yu as "General of the Household Who Establishes Might" (建威中郎將) and put him in command of 2,000 troops and granted him 50 horses.[Sanguozhi 5] Sun Ce said, "Zhou Gongjin is an extraordinary hero and talent. He's very close to me and we're like brothers. I still remember that time when he brought his troops and supplies from Danyang to assist me in my campaign. I can never repay him for his help and contributions."[Sanguozhi zhu 1]
Zhou Yu was 23 years old at that time, and he was nicknamed "Zhou Lang" (周郎; literally: "Zhou the Youth") by the people in Wu. He garrisoned in Lujiang (廬江) and moved to Niuzhu (牛渚) later before taking up the appointment of "Chief (長) of Chungu (春穀)". Sun Ce later planned to attack Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), so he appointed Zhou Yu as "Central Protector of the Army" (中護軍) and "Administrator (太守) of Jiangxia (江夏)". Zhou Yu accompanied Sun Ce in the conquest of Huan (皖; in present-day Anqing, Anhui). Zhou Yu then joined Sun Ce in attacking Xunyang (尋陽; present-day Huangmei County, Hubei), where they defeated a minor warlord Liu Xun. They then invaded Jiangxia (江夏; present-day Yunmeng County, Xiaogan, Hubei) and subsequently pacified Yuzhang (豫章; in present-day Nanchang, Jiangxi) and Luling (廬陵; in present-day Ji'an, Jiangxi). Zhou Yu later returned to Baqiu (巴丘; present-day Xiajiang County, Ji'an, Jiangxi) and garrisoned there.[Sanguozhi 6][notes 1]
Service under Sun Quan
Advising Sun Quan not to send a hostage
Sun Ce was assassinated in 200 CE by the followers of Xu Gong, a commandery administrator whom he killed earlier. He was succeeded by his younger brother Sun Quan. Zhou Yu rushed back to Wu (吳; in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu) to attend Sun Ce's funeral and he remained in Wu after that. Holding the appointment of "Central Protector of the Army" (中護軍), Zhou Yu and the Chief Clerk (長史) Zhang Zhao were placed in charge of the affairs in Sun Quan's territories.[Sanguozhi 7]
Around that time, the warlord Cao Cao (who had become the de facto head of government in China) had recently defeated a rival warlord Yuan Shao at the Battle of Guandu and was achieving success in his campaigns to unify northern China. In 202, Cao Cao wrote a letter to Sun Quan, demanding that Sun send a son to the imperial capital Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan) as a hostage, so as to secure Sun's allegiance towards him. Sun Quan gathered all his subjects, including Zhang Zhao and Qin Song, for a discussion, but they could not arrive at a conclusion.[Sanguozhi zhu 2]
On a personal level, Sun Quan was not in favour of sending one of his sons to be a hostage in the capital, so he had another discussion with only his mother Lady Wu and Zhou Yu. Zhou Yu said, "In the past, when the Chu state first came into existence, its territory covered only part of the Jingshan Mountains and was less than 100 li. Later, due to the competency of its rulers, it was able to expand its boundaries and build its foundation at Ying, and then conquer the provinces of Jing and Yang until Nanhai. Its legacy was passed down for more than 900 years. Now, you've inherited the remaining resources of your father and your elder brother. You control six commanderies, have many troops and much supplies, and your men are willing to fight for you with their lives. You extract copper from the mountains to manufacture coins and you obtain salt from seawater. Your domain is prosperous and your people are at peace. When your people raise the sails on their boats, they venture out in the morning and return only in the evening. Your army is strong and has high morale so it is invincible. Why should you send a hostage just because you've received a threat? Once you send a hostage, you'll establish a connection between you and the Caos, and when they use the emperor's authority to command you, you'll have no choice but to follow their orders. This will result in you falling under their control. When that happens, you become no more than just a vassal lord with dozens of servants, carriages and horses, and is this any better as compared to being a major power in southern China? I suggest you don't send a hostage, and observe how the situation changes. If the Caos really do succeed in unifying the Empire by righteous means, it's still not too late for you to submit to them after that. If they resort to violence, they will end up destroying themselves if they do not give up because starting a war is equivalent to lighting a fire. You should conceal your bravery but continue to resist their aggression and wait for your destiny. So, why should you send a hostage?" Lady Wu agreed with Zhou Yu and she said, "What Gongjin said is true. Gongjin was around the same age as Bofu as he was only a month younger (than the latter). I regard Gongjin as a son, so you should treat him like an elder brother." Sun Quan heeded their advice and did not send a hostage.[Sanguozhi zhu 3]
Battles against Huang Zu
In 206, Zhou Yu and Sun Quan's cousin Sun Yu attacked bandits at Ma (麻) and Bao (保) and killed their chiefs and captured thousands of enemies. Later that year, Huang Zu, the Administrator (太守) of Jiangxia (江夏; present-day Yunmeng County, Xiaogan, Hubei), sent his subordinate Deng Long (鄧龍) to lead a few thousand troops to attack Sun Quan's territory in Chaisang (柴桑; near present-day Jiujiang, Jiangxi). Zhou Yu led his forces to attack Deng Long and captured the latter alive and had him sent to Wu (吳; in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu).[Sanguozhi 8]
In the spring of 208, Sun Quan ordered an attack on Jiangxia, which was defended by Huang Zu. Zhou Yu was assigned as the Chief Commander of the Front Army (前部大督) and he, along with Lü Meng,[Sanguozhi 9] Ling Tong[Sanguozhi others 1] and others, scored a major victory over the enemy. Huang Zu was killed when attempting to escape.[Sanguozhi others 2]
Advising Sun Quan to go to war with Cao Cao
In the ninth lunar month of 208, Cao Cao started a campaign aimed at wiping out all opposition in southern China. When his forces arrived at Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), the provincial governor Liu Cong surrendered without putting up any resistance. When Sun Quan's men heard that Cao Cao had obtained tens of thousands of Jing Province's land and marine troops, they were all very afraid because they knew Cao Cao's next target was Sun Quan's Jiangdong. Cao Cao wrote a letter to Sun Quan, which read: "Recently, I'm following an imperial decree to start a punitive campaign, and Liu Cong has surrendered when I led the army south. Now, I'm in command of 800,000 naval troops, and I wish to participate in a hunting expedition in Wu with you, General." Sun Quan summoned all his subjects for a meeting to discuss how to deal with Cao Cao, and many of them turned pale when he showed them the letter.[Sanguozhi zhu 4][Sanguozhi 10]
Some of Sun Quan's followers suggested to surrender to Cao Cao on the grounds that the strength of their military was not comparable to Cao Cao's. However, Zhou Yu demurred, "No. Even though Cao Cao is the Han chancellor in name, he's actually a villain who wants to usurp state power. General, with your brilliance and your father and brother's military prowess, you've carved out for yourself a domain in Jiangdong which stretches over thousands of li. Your soldiers are well trained and capable, and you've heroes who're glad to serve under you. You should go to war and help the Han Dynasty eliminate its threats. Cao Cao has thrust himself into the gates of death, so why should we surrender to him? General, please consider carefully: Assuming northern China has been pacified and Cao Cao has no internal threats, can he last long in battle, and can he compete with us in naval warfare? Now, the north is not completely peaceful; Ma Chao and Han Sui in Guanxi (west of Hangu Pass) remain as thorns in Cao Cao's flesh. Besides, the people of central China are used to fighting land battles and do not specialise in naval warfare, so can they still hope to compete with us, the people of Wuyue? Winter is approaching. Cao Cao's warhorses lack fodder, his army has travelled a long distance across central China, and his men will certainly fall sick because they are not accustomed to the changes in the climate. He has committed four serious mistakes, according to military strategy, but he still persists in his ways. General, you will be able to capture Cao Cao soon. I request for 30,000 elite troops to garrison at Xiakou, and I assure you, General, that I will defeat the enemy." Sun Quan responded, "The old villain has harboured the intention of usurping the Han Dynasty for a long time, but he feared the two Yuans (Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu), Lü Bu, Liu Biao and me. Now, all the others have been destroyed and I'm the only one left. The old villain and me cannot coexist together. Your idea of going to war coincides closely with my thoughts. This is a sign that Heaven has granted you to me."[Sanguozhi 11]
Sun Quan drew his sword, slashed the table in front of him and said, "Any of you who dares to speak of surrendering to Cao Cao shall end up like this table!" Later that night, Zhou Yu came to see Sun Quan and said, "This morning, those gentlemen became afraid when they read Cao Cao's letter, in which Cao said that he had 800,000 land and marine troops. They did not bother to assess whether (Cao Cao's claim) was true or not, and immediately advocated surrender. That was totally absurd. Now, based on my estimations, Cao Cao's forces from central China could not be more than 150,000 to 160,000, and they are already weary from travelling over long distances. Even though he has obtained Liu Biao's forces, their numbers could not be over 70,000 to 80,000, and there is a significant number of them who are suspicious (of Cao Cao). Although Cao Cao may have superiority in numbers, the troops under him are tired and not united in spirit, so there's nothing to fear about him. We only need 50,000 elite troops to defeat him. General, please have no worries and hesitate no more." Sun Quan placed his hand on Zhou Yu's shoulder and replied, "Gongjin, what you've said is exactly what I'm thinking of. People like Zibu and Yuanbiao[notes 2] are only concerned about their families and their personal interests. They greatly disappoint me. Only you and Zijing share the same thoughts as me. Heaven has granted both of you as assistants to help me. It's not easy to gather 50,000 troops at one time, but I've already selected 30,000 men, and the boats, supplies and equipment are all ready. You, Zijing, and Elder Cheng can go ahead with the army first. I'll provide backup by continuing to manage the manpower and send more supplies and equipment to you. If you can defeat Cao Cao, that will be good. But if you suffer any setback, you can return to my side and I'll engage Cao Cao in a final battle."[Sanguozhi zhu 5]
Pei Songzhi, who annotated Zhou Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi, commented that Lu Su was actually the first person who urged Sun Quan to resist Cao Cao. Zhou Yu was at Poyang (鄱陽) before Sun Quan held the discussion with his subjects, and Lu Su suggested to Sun to recall Zhou back for the meeting. Zhou Yu and Lu Su gave similar advice to Sun Quan, which resulted in Sun arriving at his decision to go to war with Cao Cao. Pei Songzhi felt that it was unfair to Lu Su because Zhou Yu's biography gave full credit to Zhou for being the only person to urge Sun Quan to resist Cao Cao, and failed to mention that Lu Su had already advocated resisting Cao Cao before Zhou Yu did.[Sanguozhi zhu 6]
Battle of Red Cliffs
Around that time, Liu Bei had recently been defeated by Cao Cao at the Battle of Changban, and he planned to lead his followers south across the Yangtze River. Liu Bei met Lu Su at Dangyang, where they discussed the formation of an alliance between Liu and Sun Quan. Liu Bei then moved to Xiakou (夏口; present-day Hankou, Wuhan, Hubei) and garrisoned there, while sending Zhuge Liang to follow Lu Su to meet Sun Quan and affirm the Liu-Sun alliance. Sun Quan then ordered Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu to lead his forces to join Liu Bei in resisting Cao Cao, and they rendezvoused at Red Cliffs (赤壁). A plague had broken out in Cao Cao's army, so Cao lost to the allies in an early skirmish between both sides. Cao Cao then moved his camp to the northern bank of the Yangtze River while the allies remained at the south.[Sanguozhi 12]
Zhou Yu's subordinate Huang Gai told him, "The enemy are superior in numbers in comparison with our side. I fear that we cannot last long. However, I observe that Cao Cao's ships are linked to each other. We can destroy them by fire." Huang Gai then prepared about ten mengchongs and doujians (鬬艦; a type of warship) and filled them with the ingredients necessary for starting a fire. He then wrote a letter to Cao Cao, pretending that he wanted to surrender and defect to the latter's side.[Sanguozhi 13][Sanguozhi zhu 7]
Huang Gai then prepared some zouges (走舸; a smaller type of boat), which would follow behind the mengchongs and doujians, and his small fleet sailed towards Cao Cao's base. The wind was blowing strongly from the southeast. When Huang Gai's fleet reached the middle of the river, the ships all raised their sails, and Huang Gai lifted a torch and instructed his men to shout "We surrender!" Cao Cao's troops came out of the camp to look and they said Huang Gai was coming to join them. When Huang Gai was about 20 li away from the enemy base, he ordered his men to set the ships on fire and they boarded the smaller boats behind. As the wind was very strong, the flaming ships sailed towards Cao Cao's warships at fast speed and caused them to catch fire as well. Cao Cao's ships were all burnt down and the flames also spread quickly to his camps on land. Zhou Yu then ordered an attack on Cao Cao's base and scored a major victory. Cao Cao retreated north with his surviving troops after his defeat.[notes 3][Sanguozhi zhu 8] Zhou Yu and Liu Bei led their respective forces in pursuit of Cao Cao,[Sanguozhi 14] but Cao had already fled.[Sanguozhi zhu 9]
Battles of Jiangling
After his defeat at Red Cliffs, Cao Cao returned to Xu (許; present-day Xuchang, Henan) and left Cao Ren and others behind to defend Jiangling (江陵; present-day Jingzhou, Hubei). Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu led their troops towards Nan commandery (南郡) and were separated from Cao Ren's forces by the river.[Sanguozhi 15] Liu Bei said to Zhou Yu, "Cao Ren is defending Jiangling and he has much supplies in the city. He poses a big threat to us. I'll send Zhang Yide with 1,000 men to accompany you, while you despatch 2,000 troops to follow me. We'll then cross the Xia River (夏水; a tributary of the Yangtze River starting from southeast of Shashi District and ending at north of Jianli County in Hubei) and attack Cao Ren's rear. When Cao Ren hears that we've infiltrated his rear, he'll definitely retreat." Zhou Yu agreed to Liu Bei's suggestion.[Sanguozhi zhu 10]
Zhou Yu later ordered Gan Ning to station at Yiling (夷陵; present-day Yichang, Hubei). Cao Ren sent a separate cavalry force to besiege Yiling, so Gan Ning sent an urgent request to Zhou Yu for reinforcements.[notes 4] Zhou Yu followed Lü Meng's advice and left Ling Tong to defend his current position while leading Lü Meng and others to help Gan Ning. After the siege at Yiling was lifted, Zhou Yu and his troops crossed the Yangtze River and attacked Jiangling, with Zhou personally participating in battle. He was hit on his right side by a stray arrow and had to retreat due to the severity of the wound. When Cao Ren heard that Zhou Yu was wounded and was lying in bed, he led his troops to outside Zhou's camp and taunted the enemy. Zhou Yu got out of bed and personally inspected his men and encouraged them to raise their morale. Cao Ren saw that and retreated.[Sanguozhi 16]
By 209, Zhou Yu and Cao Ren had held up against each other for a long time and both sides had sustained heavy casualties. Cao Ren was eventually ordered to abandon Jiangling.[Sanguozhi others 3]
Advice to Sun Quan on how to deal with Liu Bei
After the victory at the Battle of Jiangling, Sun Quan appointed Zhou Yu as a Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) and Administrator (太守) of Nan commandery (南郡). Zhou Yu's headquarters were at Jiangling while he was in charge of Xiajun (下雋), Hanchang (漢昌), Liuyang (瀏陽) and Zhouling (州陵).[Sanguozhi 17]
Liu Bei took up the appointment of Governor (牧) of Jing Province with his capital at Gong'an (公安; present-day Gong'an County, Hubei). When Liu Bei later met Sun Quan at Jing (京; present-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu), Zhou Yu wrote to Sun Quan: "Liu Bei possesses characteristics of a fierce and ambitious hero. Besides, he also has under him generals with the might of bears and tigers, such as Guan Yu and Zhang Fei. He's definitely not someone who will remain subservient to another lord. I suggest moving Liu Bei to Wu (吳; in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu), build a palace for him there, and present him with women and gifts to entertain him. We'll then put the two men (Guan Yu and Zhang Fei) each in a different location. If I can use Liu Bei as a hostage and attack (his men) at the same time, our goal (take over Jing Province) will be accomplished. And now yet we carve out land for them as resources, and allow the three men to be together? I'm afraid once the dragon encounters clouds and rain, it'll no longer remain in a pond."[Sanguozhi 18]
Sun Quan considered that Cao Cao was still a threat in the north, so he thought it would be better for him to have more allies (instead of creating hostility between him and his allies), and besides, he was also worried that Liu Bei's men might not submit to him, so he rejected Zhou Yu's idea.[Sanguozhi 19]
Around 210, Liu Zhang was serving as the Governor (牧) of Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing), and he faced the threat of his rival Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. Zhou Yu went to see Sun Quan and proposed, "Cao Cao is still recovering from his defeats and he faces internal threats, so he will not go to war with you any time soon. I ask for you to allow me and Sun Yu to invade Shu (Yi Province) and attack Zhang Lu after that. Sun Yu will then remain behind to defend the captured territories and form an alliance with Ma Chao. I'll join you in attacking Cao Cao at Xiangyang, and we can conquer the north." Sun Quan agreed.[Sanguozhi 20]
Zhou Yu then headed back to Jiangling (江陵; present-day Jingzhou, Hubei) to make preparations for the campaign, but he died of illness at Baqiu (巴丘; present-day Yueyang, Hunan) on the way back. He was 36 years old (by East Asian age reckoning) at the time of his death.[Sanguozhi 21][notes 5][Sanguozhi zhu 11]
Sun Quan deeply mourned Zhou Yu's death. He shed tears and said, "Gongjin possessed the calibre of a talented advisor to a ruler. Now that he has died at such a young age, who can I still rely on?"[Sanguozhi zhu 12] He even wore plain garments to express his sorrow, which touched many people. After a funeral was held for Zhou Yu at Baqiu, his body was transported back to Wu (吳; in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu). Sun Quan received the procession at Wuhu and personally paid for all the expenses. He also later issued an order allowing Zhou Yu's family to keep retainers.[Sanguozhi 22]
In 229, nearly two decades after Zhou Yu's death, when Sun Quan declared himself the emperor of the state of Eastern Wu, he told his subjects, "I wouldn't have become an emperor today if there wasn't Zhou Gongjin to assist me."[Sanguozhi zhu 13]
Sometime between 198 and 199, Zhou Yu joined Sun Ce in the conquest of Huan (皖; in present-day Anqing, Anhui). In Huan, they met a certain Elder Qiao (橋公), who had two daughters who were famed for their beautiful looks. Sun Ce married the elder sister while Zhou Yu married the younger one.[Sanguozhi 23] Sun Ce joked with Zhou Yu, "Elder Qiao and his two daughters have been roaming around, so I'm sure now he's glad to have us as his sons-in-law."[Sanguozhi zhu 14]
Zhou Yu's elder son, Zhou Xun (周循), had a personality that resembled his father's, but, like his father, he also died early. He married Sun Quan's daughter Sun Luban and served as a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) in Eastern Wu.[Sanguozhi 26][Sanguozhi others 4]
Zhou Yu's younger son, Zhou Yin (周胤), married a woman from Sun Quan's clan. He served as the Commandant of Xingye (興業都尉) and was placed in command of 1,000 troops and garrisoned at Gong'an (公安). In 229, after Sun Quan ascended the throne, he granted Zhou Yin the title of "Marquis of a Chief District" (都鄉侯). Zhou Yin later committed some offences and was exiled to Luling commandery (廬陵郡). In 239, Zhuge Jin and Bu Zhi submitted a memorial to Sun Quan, requesting for Zhou Yin to be pardoned and restored of his marquis title and appointment on account of Zhou Yu's contributions. Sun Quan was reluctant to do so, as he noted the severity of Zhou Yin's offences and said that Zhou Yin had not shown any sign of remorse. However, after much urging from Zhuge Jin and Bu Zhi, as well as Zhu Ran and Quan Cong, Sun Quan eventually agreed, but Zhou Yin had already died of illness in exile by then.[Sanguozhi 27]
Zhou Jun (周峻), the son of Zhou Yu's elder brother, was appointed as a Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) and placed in command of 1,000 men by Sun Quan because of his uncle's meritorious service. After Zhou Jun died, Quan Cong requested for Sun Quan to commission Zhou Jun's son, Zhou Hu (周護), as a military officer but Sun declined. Sun Quan replied, "In the past, we managed to defeat Cao Cao and obtain Jing Province because of Gongjin's efforts. I've never forgotten his contributions. When I heard of Zhou Jun's death, I intended to recruit Zhou Hu into the civil service, but I've also heard that Zhou Hu is ruthless and treacherous in his ways. I was worried that he will cause trouble if he is given an official appointment so I decided not to recruit him. My memories of Gongjin are lasting."[Sanguozhi 28]
Zhou Yu was described to have a strong physique and handsome good looks.[Sanguozhi 29] When Zhou Yu became close friends with Sun Ce, Sun Ce's mother Lady Wu told Sun Ce's younger brother Sun Quan to treat Zhou like an elder brother. After Sun Quan succeeded Sun Ce, his subordinates did not observe the full protocol when they paid their respects to him. Zhou Yu was the only and the first person to follow all the formalities and etiquette when he paid respect to Sun Quan.[Sanguozhi 30]
Zhou Yu was known to be a magnanimous and generous man who won the hearts of many people with his straightforward attitude. However, there was one person he could not get along well with — Cheng Pu.[Sanguozhi 31] Cheng Pu was much older than Zhou Yu, and he often insulted and belittled the latter, but Zhou tolerated him. Cheng Pu was so impressed with Zhou Yu that he eventually changed his attitude towards the latter and started treating the latter more respectfully. He even remarked, "Befriending Zhou Yu is like appreciating fine wine. You get so absorbed and intoxicated without even realising it."[Sanguozhi zhu 15]
Sometime early in Zhou Yu's career, Cao Cao heard of Zhou's talent and wanted to recruit the latter to serve under him, so he sent Jiang Gan to persuade Zhou to defect to his side. However, Zhou Yu indirectly affirmed his loyalty to the Sun family in front of Jiang Gan, and hinted to Jiang that he cannot be persuaded to switch his allegiance. When Jiang Gan later returned to Cao Cao, he told the latter that "Zhou Yu's magnanimity was too great to be described in words".[notes 7][Sanguozhi zhu 16]
Around 209, after visiting Sun Quan at Jing (京; present-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu), Liu Bei was on his journey back to Jing Province when Sun Quan, along with Zhang Zhao, Qin Song, Lu Su and others, rushed to catch up with Liu Bei to see him off. Sun Quan then held a farewell banquet for Liu Bei. After the feast, the others left while only Liu Bei and Sun Quan remained behind. When they spoke of Zhou Yu, Liu Bei said, "Gongjin's talents and abilities are far greater than those of thousands of others. He possesses great ambitions and he may not be willing to remain as a subordinate for long." In another incident, after his defeat at the hands of Zhou Yu at the Battle of Red Cliffs, Cao Cao remarked, "I'm not ashamed of having lost the battle." He later wrote to Sun Quan: "At the Battle of Red Cliffs, my men were affected by a plague, so I had my warships burnt and I retreated of my own accord. That resulted in Zhou Yu claiming the glory (of winning the battle)." Zhou Yu's widespread fame incurred much jealousy towards him, which was why Cao Cao and Liu Bei attempted to slander him and sow discord between him and Sun Quan.[Sanguozhi zhu 17]
Zhou Yu was known to be very experienced in music. Even when he was not sober, he could still detect a mistake or a wrong note when a musical piece was being played. When that happened, he would look up at the person playing the music. There was a saying at that time to describe this: "If there is a mistake in the tune, Zhou Yu will look up."[Sanguozhi 32]
In fiction and popular culture
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Zhou Yu is featured as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, Zhou Yu is depicted as a rival of Zhuge Liang. He was extremely jealous of Zhuge Liang's talent and relentlessly attempted to outwit the latter on several occasions but never succeeded. His roles in the events leading to, and during the Battle of Red Cliffs, were largely overshadowed by Zhuge Liang's. Furthermore, his death was largely dramatised in the novel and was caused intentionally by Zhuge Liang. Zhou Yu had earlier sustained an arrow wound at the Battle of Jiangling against Cao Ren's forces, and his condition deteriorated after he was infuriated by Zhuge Liang, who foiled his plans on three different occasions later. On the third time, Zhou Yu coughed blood and died.
See the following for some fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms involving Zhou Yu:
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Zhuge Liang's diplomatic mission to Jiangdong
- Jiang Gan#In fiction
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Borrowing arrows with straw boats
- Huang Gai#In fiction
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Zhuge Liang prays for the eastern wind
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Liu Bei and Lady Sun's marriage
- List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms#Zhou Yu's death
In Chinese opera
In Chinese opera, Zhou Yu is cast as a xiaosheng (小生; young character) or wusheng (武生; character in military dress), even when he appears together with Zhuge Liang, who was actually younger than he was. In Kun opera, Zhou Yu appears as a zhiweisheng, as in the scene The Swaying Reeds, in which he is captured and later released by Zhang Fei.
- Pei Songzhi pointed out that this Baqiu was not the same location as the place where Zhou Yu died, which was also called "Baqiu". Quote from Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54: (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，與後所平巴丘處不同。) The "Baqiu" where Zhou Yu died was at present-day Yueyang, Hunan.
- "Yuanbiao" referred to Qin Song, whose style name was actually "Wenbiao". There was an error in the documentation.
- See also Huang Gai#Battle of Red Cliffs for more details.
- See Battle of Yiling (208) for details on this separate battle.
- Pei Songzhi noted that the "Baqiu" where Zhou Yu died was not the same place as the "Baqiu" where Zhou Yu was stationed at between 198 and 199. See the last sentence in #Service under Sun Ce.
- See Lu Su#Succeeding Zhou Yu for details.
- See the article on Jiang Gan for details.
- Citations from Sanguozhi vol. 54
- (周瑜字公瑾，廬江舒人也。 ... 從祖父景，景子忠，皆為漢太尉。父異，洛陽令。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (初，孫堅興義兵討董卓，徙家於舒。堅子策與瑜同年，獨相友善，瑜推道南大宅以舍策，升堂拜母，有無通共。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜從父尚為丹楊太守，瑜往省之。 ... 會策將東渡，到歷陽，馳書報瑜，瑜將兵迎策。策大喜曰：「吾得卿，諧也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (遂從攻橫江、當利，皆拔之。乃渡擊秣陵，破笮融、薛禮，轉下湖孰、江乘，進入曲阿，劉繇奔走，而策之衆已數萬矣。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (因謂瑜曰：「吾以此衆取吳會平山越已足。卿還鎮丹楊。」瑜還。頃之，袁術遣從弟胤代尚為太守，而瑜與尚俱還壽春。術欲以瑜為將，瑜觀術終無所成，故求為居巢長，欲假塗東歸，術聽之。遂自居巢還吳。是歲，建安三年也。策親自迎瑜，授建威中郎將，即與兵二千人，騎五十匹。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (復進尋陽，破劉勳，討江夏，還定豫章、廬陵，留鎮巴丘。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (五年，策薨，權統事。瑜將兵赴喪，遂留吳，以中護軍與長史張昭共掌衆事。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (十一年，督孫瑜等討麻、保二屯，梟其渠帥，囚俘萬餘口，還備官亭。江夏太守黃祖遣將鄧龍將兵數千人入柴桑，瑜追討擊，生虜龍送吳。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (十三年春，權討江夏，瑜為前部大督。 ... 後權復征江夏，統為前鋒， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (其年九月，曹公入荊州，劉琮舉衆降，曹公得其水軍，船步兵數十萬，將士聞之皆恐。 ... 權延見羣下，問以計策。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (議者咸曰：「曹公豺虎也，然託名漢相，挾天子以征四方，動以朝廷為辭，今日拒之，事更不順。且將軍大勢，可以拒操者，長江也。今操得荊州，掩有其地，劉表治水軍，蒙衝鬬艦，乃以千數，操悉浮以沿江，兼有步兵，水陸俱下，此為長江之險，已與我共之矣。而勢力衆寡，又不可論。愚謂大計不如迎之。」瑜曰：「不然。操雖託名漢相，其實漢賊也。將軍以神武雄才，兼仗父兄之烈，割據江東，地方數千里，兵精足用，英雄樂業，尚當橫行天下，為漢家除殘去穢。況操自送死，而可迎之邪？請為將軍籌之：今使北土已安，操無內憂，能曠日持乆來爭疆場，又能與我校勝負於船楫可乎？今北土旣未平安，加馬超、韓遂尚在關西，為操後患。且舍鞌馬，杖舟楫，與吳越爭衡，本非中國所長。又今盛寒，馬無槀草，驅中國士衆遠涉江湖之閒，不習水土，必生疾病。此數四者，用兵之患也，而操皆冒行之。將軍禽操，宜在今日。瑜請得精兵三萬人，進住夏口，保為將軍破之。」權曰：「老賊欲廢漢自立乆矣，徒忌二袁、呂布、劉表與孤耳。今數雄已滅，惟孤尚存，孤與老賊，勢不兩立。君言當擊，甚與孤合，此天以君授孤也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (時劉備為曹公所破，欲引南渡江，與魯肅遇於當陽，遂共圖計，因進住夏口，遣諸葛亮詣權，權遂遣瑜及程普等與備并力逆曹公，遇於赤壁。時曹公軍衆已有疾病，初一交戰，公軍敗退，引次江北。瑜等在南岸。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜部將黃蓋曰：「今寇衆我寡，難與持乆。然觀操軍船艦首尾相接，可燒而走也。」乃取蒙衝鬬艦數十艘，實以薪草，膏油灌其中，裹以帷幕，上建牙旗，先書報曹公，欺以欲降。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (又豫備走舸，各繫大船後，因引次俱前。曹公軍吏士皆延頸觀望，指言蓋降。蓋放諸船，同時發火。時風盛猛，悉延燒岸上營落。頃之，煙炎張天，人馬燒溺死者甚衆，軍遂敗退，還保南郡。 ... 備與瑜等復共追。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (曹公留曹仁等守江陵城，徑自北歸。 ... 瑜與程普又進南郡，與仁相對，各隔大江。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (兵未交鋒，瑜即遣甘寧前據夷陵。仁分兵騎別攻圍寧。寧告急於瑜。瑜用呂蒙計，留凌統以守其後，身與蒙上救寧。寧圍旣解，乃渡屯北岸，克期大戰。瑜親跨馬擽陣，會流矢中右脅，瘡甚，便還。後仁聞瑜卧未起，勒兵就陣。瑜乃自興，案行軍營，激揚吏士，仁由是遂退。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (權拜瑜偏將軍，領南郡太守。以下雋、漢昌、瀏陽、州陵為奉邑，屯據江陵。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (劉備以左將軍領荊州牧，治公安。備詣京見權，瑜上疏曰：「劉備以梟雄之姿，而有關羽、張飛熊虎之將，必非乆屈為人用者。愚謂大計宜徙備置吳，盛為築宮室，多其美女玩好，以娛其耳目，分此二人，各置一方，使如瑜者得挾與攻戰，大事可定也。今猥割土地以資業之，聚此三人，俱在疆場，恐蛟龍得雲雨，終非池中物也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (權以曹公在北方，當廣擥英雄，又恐備難卒制，故不納。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (是時劉璋為益州牧，外有張魯寇侵，瑜乃詣京見權曰：「今曹操新折衂，方憂在腹心，未能與將軍道兵相事也。乞與奮威俱進取蜀，得蜀而并張魯，因留奮威固守其地，好與馬超結援。瑜還與將軍據襄陽以蹙操，北方可圖也。」權許之。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜還江陵，為行裝，而道於巴丘病卒，時年三十六。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (權素服舉哀，感慟左右。喪當還吳，又迎之蕪湖，衆事費度，一為供給。後著令曰：「故將軍周瑜、程普，其有人客，皆不得問。」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜時年二十四，吳中皆呼為周郎。以瑜恩信著於廬江，出備牛渚，後領春穀長。頃之，策欲取荊州，以瑜為中護軍，領江夏太守，從攻皖，拔之。時得橋公兩女，皆國色也。策自納大橋，瑜納小橋。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜兩男一女。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (女配太子登。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (男循尚公主，拜騎都尉，有瑜風，早卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (循弟胤，初拜興業都尉，妻以宗女，授兵千人，屯公安。黃龍元年，封都鄉侯，後以罪徙廬陵郡。赤烏二年，諸葛瑾、步隲連名上疏曰：「故將軍周瑜子胤，昔蒙粉飾，受封為將，不能養之以福，思立功效，至縱情欲，招速罪辟。臣竊以瑜昔見寵任，入作心膂，出為爪牙，銜命出征，身當矢石，盡節用命，視死如歸，故能摧曹操於烏林，走曹仁於郢都，揚國威德，華夏是震，蠢爾蠻荊，莫不賔服，雖周之方叔，漢之信、布，誠無以尚也。夫折衝扞難之臣，自古帝王莫不貴重，故漢高帝封爵之誓曰『使黃河如帶，太山如礪，國以永存，爰及苗裔』；申以丹書，重以盟詛，藏于宗廟，傳於無窮，欲使功臣之後，世世相踵，非徒子孫，乃關苗裔，報德明功，勤勤懇懇，如此之至，欲以勸戒後人，用命之臣，死而無悔也。況於瑜身沒未乆，而其子胤降為匹夫，益可悼傷。竊惟陛下欽明稽古，隆於興繼，為胤歸訴，乞匄餘罪，還兵復爵，使失旦之雞，復得一鳴，抱罪之臣，展其後效。」權荅曰：「腹心舊勳，與孤協事，公瑾有之，誠所不忘。昔胤年少，初無功勞，橫受精兵，爵以侯將，蓋念公瑾以及於胤也。而胤恃此，酗淫自恣，前後告喻，曾無悛改。孤於公瑾，義猶二君，樂胤成就，豈有已哉？迫胤罪惡，未宜便還，且欲苦之，使自知耳。今二君勤勤援引漢高河山之誓，孤用恧然。雖德非其疇，猶欲庶幾，事亦如爾，故未順旨。以公瑾之子，而二君在中間，苟使能改，亦何患乎！」瑾、隲表比上，朱然及全琮亦俱陳乞，權乃許之。會胤病死。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜兄子峻，亦以瑜元功為偏將軍，領吏士千人。峻卒，全琮表峻子護為將。權曰：「昔走曹操，拓有荊州，皆是公瑾，常不忘之。初聞峻亡，仍欲用護，聞護性行危險，用之適為作禍，故便止之。孤念公瑾，豈有已乎？」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜長壯有姿貌。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (初瑜見友於策，太妃又使權以兄奉之。是時權位為將軍，諸將賔客為禮尚簡，而瑜獨先盡敬，便執臣節。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (性度恢廓，大率為得人，惟與程普不睦。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (瑜少精意於音樂，雖三爵之後，其有闕誤，瑜必知之，知之必顧，故時人謠曰：「曲有誤，周郎顧。」) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- Citations from other parts of the Sanguozhi
- (從征黃祖，祖令都督陳就逆以水軍出戰。蒙勒前鋒，親梟就首，將士乘勝，進攻其城。祖聞就死，委城走，兵追禽之。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
- (十三年春，權復征黃祖，祖先遣舟兵拒軍，都尉呂蒙破其前鋒，而淩統、董襲等盡銳攻之，遂屠其城。祖挺身亡走，騎士馮則追梟其首，虜其男女數萬口。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- (十四年，瑜、仁相守歲餘，所殺傷甚衆。仁委城走。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- (吳主權步夫人， ... 生二女，長曰魯班，字大虎，前配周瑜子循， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 50.
- Citations from annotations in the Sanguozhi
- (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，發衆及船糧以濟大事，論德酬功，此未足以報者也。」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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。權召羣臣會議，張昭、秦松等猶豫不能決， ...) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (... 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，遂據荊揚，至於南海，傳業延祚，九百餘年。今將軍承父兄餘資，六郡之衆，兵精糧多，將士用命，鑄山為銅，煑海為鹽，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，豈與南靣稱孤同哉？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。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (江表傳載曹公與權書曰：「近者奉辭伐罪，旄麾南指，劉琮束手。今治水軍八十萬衆，方與將軍會獵於吳。」權得書以示羣臣，莫不嚮震失色。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- (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，所得表衆，亦極七八萬耳，尚懷狐疑。夫以疲病之卒，御狐疑之衆，衆數雖多，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、元表諸人，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，孤當續發人衆，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。」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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，權延見羣下，問以計策，瑜擺衆人之議，獨言抗拒之計，了不云肅先有謀，殆為攘肅之善也。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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，以當中國百萬之衆，衆寡不敵，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，口勑曰：「但恐汝詐耳。蓋若信實，當授爵賞，超於前後也。」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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，使衆兵齊聲大叫曰：「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。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (山陽公載記曰：公船艦為備所燒，引軍從華容道步歸，遇泥濘，道不通，天又大風，悉使羸兵負草填之，騎乃得過。羸兵為人馬所蹈藉，陷泥中，死者甚眾。軍既得出，公大喜，諸將問之，公曰：「劉備，吾儔也。但得計少晚；向使早放火，吾徒無類矣。」備尋亦放火而無所及。) Shanyang Gong Zaiji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- (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，相為從夏水入截仁後，仁聞吾入必走。」瑜以二千人益之。) Wu Lu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (及卒，權流涕曰：「公瑾有王佐之資，今忽短命，孤何賴哉！」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (後權稱尊號，謂公卿曰：「孤非周公瑾，不帝矣。」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (江表傳曰：策從容戲瑜曰：「橋公二女雖流離，得吾二人作壻，亦足為歡。」) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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。 ... 幹還，稱瑜雅量高致，非言辭所間。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (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，恐不乆為人臣耳。」 ... 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。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- Other sources
- The Sanguozhi did not specifically state the year in which Zhou Yu died. It mentioned that he died of illness at the age of 36 (by East Asian age reckoning) in Baqiu while he was on his way to Jiangling. Quote from Sanguozhi vol. 54: (瑜還江陵，為行裝，而道於巴丘病卒，時年三十六。) The Zizhi Tongjian mentioned that he died in the 15th year of the Jian'an era (196-220) in the reign of Emperor Xian of Han. Quote from Zizhi Tongjian vol. 66: (孝獻皇帝辛建安十五年（庚寅，公元二一零年） ... 周瑜還江陵為行裝，於道病困， ... 卒於巴丘。) By calculation, Zhou Yu's birth year should be around 175.
- de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 1152. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0.