Gu Tan

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Gu Tan
Official of Eastern Wu
Born (Unknown)
Died (Unknown)
Traditional Chinese 顧譚
Simplified Chinese 顾谭
Pinyin Gù Tán
Wade–Giles Ku Tan
Courtesy name Zimo (Chinese: 子默; pinyin: Zǐmò; Wade–Giles: Tzu-mo)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Gu.

Gu Tan (birth and death dates unknown), courtesy name Zimo, was a minister of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period.


Gu Tan was from Wu Commandery. He was the son of Gu Shao (顧邵) and grandson of Gu Yong, a chancellor of Wu, as well as the maternal grandson of Sun Ce and nephew of Lu Xun. When he was a youth, he was one of the four close friends of the crown prince Sun Deng. He was appointed Commandant Who Assists Righteousness (輔正都尉).

During the Chiwu era (238–251) of Sun Quan's reign, Gu Tan replaced Zhuge Ke as Left Regional Governor (左節度). Whenever he browsed through documents and records, he was able to spot mistakes just by looking, and his subordinates were impressed with him. Gu Tan was later promoted to Commandant of Equipage (奉車都尉). Xue Zong even once gave up his post as Secretary of Selection of Officials (選曹尚書) to Gu Tan, writing in his recommendation, "(Gu) Tan is focused and meticulous, familiar with affairs and skillful in details. He is talented and placed in high regard. I am unable to perform better than him."[1]

Months after his grandfather's death in 243, Gu Tan was appointed Minister of Ceremonies (太常) and took over his grandfather's duties as secretary. Around that time, Sun Ba (Prince of Lu) was involved in a rivalry with crown prince Sun He over succession to the throne. Sun Quan favoured Sun Ba and had the intention of replacing Sun He with Sun Ba, but Gu Tan wrote a memorial to Sun Quan, hinting that Sun He should not be deposed. Quan Ji (全寄), son of Quan Cong, was living with Sun Ba then, and he saw Gu Tan as a rival because of the succession dispute.

After the battle of Quebei (芍陂) in 241, Quan Ji and his father were unhappy that Zhang Xiu and others received higher rewards, and slandered Zhang Xiu in front of Sun Quan. As Gu Tan was a close friend of Zhang Xiu, he was implicated and both of them were eventually dismissed from office and exiled to Jiao Province. While in Jiao Province, Gu Tan wrote a twenty-volume book, Xin Yan (新言), to express his frustration. He died two years after his exile at the age of 42.

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Commandant Who Assists Righteousness (輔正都尉)
  • Left Regional Governor (左節度)
  • Commandant of Equipage (奉車都尉)
  • Secretary of Selection of Officials (選曹尚書)
  • Minister of Ceremonies (太常)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (譚心精體密,貫道達微,才照人物,德允眾望,誠非愚臣所可越先。) Sanguozhi vol. 52.