List of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
The following is a chronologically arranged list of fictitious stories in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi), one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Although the novel is a romanticised retelling of the history of the late Eastern Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period, due to its widespread popularity, many people falsely believe it to a real account of the events that happened during that era. Some historians[who?] have also used the novel as a source to study the history of the Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period, regardless of factual basis. The authoritative source for the history of the Three Kingdoms period is Chen Shou's Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), which includes annotations by Pei Songzhi from other historical texts such as the Weilue and the Jiang Biao Zhuan (江表傳). Other sources covering the history of that period include Fan Ye's Book of the Later Han (Houhanshu) and Fang Xuanling's Book of Jin (Jin Shu). Since Sanguo Yanyi is a historical novel, many stories in it are either fictitious or based on folk tales and historical incidents that happened in other periods of Chinese history. What follows is an incomplete list of the better known fictitious stories in the novel, each with accompanying text that explains the differences between the story and historical accounts.
- 1 Powers of Sorcery among the Yellow Turbans
- 2 Oath of the Peach Garden
- 3 Zhang Fei thrashes the imperial inspector
- 4 Cao Cao presents a precious sword
- 5 Cao Cao arrested and released by Chen Gong
- 6 Cao Cao murders Lü Boshe
- 7 Guan Yu slays Hua Xiong
- 8 Battle of Hulao Pass
- 9 Battle of Xingyang
- 10 Lü Bu and Diaochan
- 11 Battle of Xiapi
- 12 Guan Yu's three conditions
- 13 Guan Yu slays Yan Liang and Wen Chou
- 14 Guan Yu crosses five passes and slays six generals
- 15 Guo Jia's strategy to pacify Liaodong
- 16 Guan Yu slays Cai Yang at Gucheng
- 17 Liu Bei's horse leaps across the Tan Stream
- 18 Xu Shu
- 19 Three visits to the thatched cottage
- 20 Battle of Bowang
- 21 Battle of Changban
- 22 Zhuge Liang's diplomatic mission to Jiangdong
- 23 Zhou Yu tricks Jiang Gan
- 24 Borrowing arrows with straw boats
- 25 Huang Gai's self-torture ruse
- 26 Pang Tong presents the chain links strategy
- 27 Zhuge Liang prays for the eastern wind
- 28 Guan Yu releases Cao Cao at Huarong Trail
- 29 Taishi Ci's death
- 30 Battle of Changsha
- 31 Liu Bei and Lady Sun's marriage
- 32 Zhou Yu's death
- 33 New Book of Mengde
- 34 Battle of Tong Pass
- 35 Pang Tong's death
- 36 Battle of Jiameng Pass
- 37 Guan Yu attends a banquet alone armed with only a blade
- 38 Hua Tuo heals Guan Yu's arm
- 39 Lü Meng's death
- 40 Events after Guan Yu's death
- 41 Cao Cao's death
- 42 Battle of Xiaoting
- 43 Zhang Liao's death
- 44 Meng Huo captured and released seven times
- 45 Xincheng Rebellion
- 46 Zhuge Liang's Northern Expeditions
- 47 References
Powers of Sorcery among the Yellow Turbans
Late in the reign of Emperor Ling, as outlawry and talk of rebellion proliferate, a mysterious man, referring to himself as "the old immortal spirit from the southern lands," gives a magic book to Zhang Jue. The latter studies it until he can “summon the wind and rain.” He then comes to be known as “the Great Peace Daoist” and, during a countryside epidemic, charms special water that cures the disease. He then trains a cadre of 500 disciples who can “write magic charms and chant spells,” dispersing them throughout the empire in thirty-six chapters that each grow to have thousands of members. Finally, Zhang Jue tells his two brothers, Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang, that the auspicious time to launch a rebellion has come. Soon Zhang Bao is fighting with imperial forces. He is a sorcerer able to summon a thunderstorm, which creates an apparition of an army of dark warriors. Shortly after Zhang Liang is captured and executed, Zhang Bao begins making more reckless decisions and is hard pressed by government forces in Yang Province. His men began to fear for their lives and he is eventually assassinated by one of his own men, Yan Zheng, during an attack on the castle of Yangcheng. With this the Yellow Turbans degenerate into a force of bandits.
While claims of such magical powers seem to have been part of the propaganda used by the Yellow Turbans to recruit members, there is no evidence that any historical personage was ever able to conjure storms, field phantom armies, or perform any of the other feats attributed in the novel to the Zhang brothers.
Oath of the Peach Garden
This event is set at the end of the Eastern Han dynasty around the time of the Yellow Turban Rebellion in the 180s. Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei take an oath of fraternity in a ceremony in a Peach Garden believed to be in present-day Zhuozhou, Hebei, and become sworn brothers from then on. Key words in the oath are to the effect, "Although not born on the selfsame day, we hope to die on the selfsame day." Their goal in taking the oath is to protect the Han Empire from the Yellow Turban rebels. The oath binds the three men, who later play important roles in the establishment of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period.
There is, however, no mention of the three men becoming sworn brothers in Chen Shou's Records of the Three Kingdoms, the authoritative source for the history of the late Eastern Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period. But in Guan Yu's biography, their relationship is described to be "as close as brothers," to the point of "sharing the same bed." Zhang Fei's biography also mentions that Guan Yu was older than Zhang Fei, so Zhang regarded Guan as an elder brother.
Zhang Fei thrashes the imperial inspector
An inspector is sent to survey Liu Bei's county after he has assumed office as a minor county-level magistrate for his efforts in helping to suppress the Yellow Turban Rebellion. The inspector hints to Liu Bei that he wants bribes, but Liu doesn't understand what he's driving at. Later, even after his assistant has explained it to him, Liu Bei still refuses to give bribes. When the inspector is unable to find any fault with Liu Bei's administration, he attempts to force the locals to file a complaint against Liu. Zhang Fei is furious when he hears about this and barges into the county office, drags the inspector out, ties him to a post, and gives him a severe thrashing. Liu Bei shows up and stops Zhang Fei. When Guan Yu suggests they kill the inspector and seek their fortune elsewhere, Liu Bei refuses, resigns, and returns his official seal to the inspector before leaving.
Liu Bei's biography in the Sanguozhi mentions that Liu was the one responsible for beating up the inspector. Apparently, the inspector refused to see Liu Bei and claimed that he was ill, but Liu broke into his room, dragged him out, tied him to a tree and flogged him more than 100 times.
Cao Cao presents a precious sword
Wang Yun lends Cao Cao his Seven Gems Sword after Cao promises to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Cao Cao meets Dong Zhuo in his bedroom on the following day and attempts to stab him with the sword just as Dong faces away. But Dong sees Cao drawing his sword through a reflection in a mirror and immediately turns back to question him. Cao senses trouble so he quickly kneels down and lies to Dong that he intends to present the sword as a gift. Concurrently, Lü Bu has also returned after Dong sent him to choose a new steed for Cao. So Cao escapes from the capital, Luoyang, under the pretext of test-riding the horse.
Cao Cao's biography in the Sanguozhi states that Dong Zhuo wanted to appoint Cao Cao as a "Colonel of Valiant Cavalry" (驍騎校尉) and recruit Cao to serve him. Cao refused because he felt that Dong was doomed to failure, so he disguised himself and escaped back to his hometown. There is no mention of Cao Cao attempting to assassinate Dong Zhuo before his escape.
Cao Cao arrested and released by Chen Gong
Cao Cao flees from the capital, Luoyang, after failing to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo orders notices for Cao Cao's arrest to be put around the areas surrounding Luoyang. During his escape, Cao Cao is spotted in Zhongmu County by the official Chen Gong, who has him arrested. Chen Gong has a private conversation with Cao Cao and decides to release him after being inspired by his sense of righteousness. Chen Gong even gives up his official post and becomes Cao Cao's companion.
Cao Cao's biography in the Sanguozhi mentions that when Cao Cao passed by Zhongmu County, a patrol officer suspected him and put him under arrest, but Cao was released later. There is no evidence that Cao Cao attempted to assassinate Dong Zhuo before his arrest, and the patrol officer's name is not recorded in history. Besides, in Cao Cao's biography, Chen Gong is first mentioned only after Liu Dai's death in 192 when he urged Cao Cao to assume governorship of Yan Province (兗州; covering present-day southwestern Shandong and eastern Henan). This happened two years after the Campaign against Dong Zhuo was initiated in 190. As such, it contradicts the story in Sanguo Yanyi because, in the novel, Cao Cao initiates the campaign only after he kills Lü Boshe in Chen Gong's presence (see the article on Lü Boshe) and returns to his hometown of Chenliu (陳留; in present-day Kaifeng, Henan).
Cao Cao murders Lü Boshe
Guan Yu slays Hua Xiong
Battle of Hulao Pass
Battle of Xingyang
Lü Bu and Diaochan
Diaochan is a fictional character introduced in the novel. She is sent by Wang Yun to sow discord between Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu and succeeds in her mission when she eventually causes the latter to kill the former.
Lü Bu's biographies in the Sanguozhi and the Houhanshu mention that Lü Bu had a secret affair with one of Dong Zhuo's maids, and was afraid that Dong would find out. Besides, he already bore a grudge against Dong Zhuo, who threw jis (a type of halberd) at him on some occasions to vent his frustration, but Lü Bu dodged the weapons and Dong Zhuo's anger subsided. There is no historical evidence to support the maid's name being "Diaochan." That name likely referred to the sable (diao) tails and jade decorations in the shape of cicadas (chan), which at the time adorned the headgear of high ranking government officials.
Battle of Xiapi
Guan Yu's three conditions
Cao Cao and Liu Bei join forces to attack Lü Bu in Xu Province (徐州; covering parts of present-day Shandong and Jiangsu) and defeat him at the Battle of Xiapi. Cao Cao appoints Che Zhou (車冑) as the governor of Xu Province. Liu Bei later breaks ties with Cao Cao and seizes control of Xu Province after Guan Yu kills Che Zhou. Cao Cao leads an army to attack Liu Bei and take back Xu Province. In one battle, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei lead a force to attack Cao Cao's camp but fall into an ambush and are separated during the chaos. Guan Yu, who remained behind to defend Xiapi (Xu Province's capital), is lured out of the city and isolated on a small hill. Cao Cao's forces take control of Xiapi and capture Liu Bei's spouses. Cao Cao sends Zhang Liao to ask Guan Yu to surrender. Guan Yu agrees to surrender, provided the following three conditions are fulfilled:
- Liu Bei's spouses are not harmed and are treated well.
- In name, Guan Yu surrenders to the emperor and not to Cao Cao (who actually controls state power).
- Guan Yu is allowed to leave and reunite with Liu Bei as soon as he has news of Liu's whereabouts.
Cao Cao agrees to the three conditions. Guan Yu serves under him temporarily before leaving to rejoin Liu Bei later.
Guan Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi states that Liu Bei launched a surprise attack on Xu Province and killed Che Zhou. He then placed Guan Yu in charge of Xiapi while he moved to Xiaopei. In 200, Cao Cao led an army east to attack Liu Bei and defeated him. Liu Bei fled to join Yuan Shao. Guan Yu was captured by Cao Cao's forces and brought back to Xuchang, where Cao appointed him as a Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) and treated him well. There is no mention of Guan Yu surrendering nor any conditions named by Guan before he agreed to surrender.
Guan Yu slays Yan Liang and Wen Chou
Before the Battle of Guandu between Yuan Shao and Cao Cao, both sides have already engaged in two skirmishes: the Battle of Boma and Battle of Yan Ford. Yuan Shao sends his generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou to attack Cao Cao's fortress at Boma (白馬; near present-day Hua County, Henan). During the battle, some of Cao Cao's best warriors, including Xu Huang and Zhang Liao, go forth to take up Yan Liang's challenge but are defeated by him. Cao Cao reluctantly allows Guan Yu to fight Yan Liang and Guan emerges victorious. Wen Chou later comes to avenge Yan Liang but ends up being slain by Guan Yu in a rout. The siege on Boma is lifted as a result.
Guan Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi mentions that Yuan Shao ordered Yan Liang to besiege Cao Cao's general Liu Yan (劉延) at Boma. Cao Cao then sent Zhang Liao and Guan Yu to lead the vanguard force to attack Yan Liang. During the battle, Guan Yu spotted Yan Liang and charged through enemy lines towards him, killed him and took his head. Yuan Shao's other generals were unable to resist the assault and the siege on Boma was thus lifted. Yuan Shao's biography in the Sanguozhi mentions that after Yan Liang's death, Yuan Shao's army crossed the Yellow River to the south of Yan Ford (延津; north of present-day Yanjin, Henan), where he sent Liu Bei and Wen Chou to attack Cao Cao. They were defeated and Wen Chou was killed in battle (nothing is mentioned about him being slain by Guan Yu). Yuan Shao launched another attack but was defeated again and his generals were captured by Cao Cao.
Guan Yu crosses five passes and slays six generals
Guan Yu receives news that Liu Bei is alive and currently in Yuan Shao's camp. He decides to leave Cao Cao with Liu Bei's wives to rejoin his sworn brother. He tries to bid Cao Cao farewell personally before leaving, but Cao doesn't give him the chance to do so. Frustrated, Guan Yu eventually writes a farewell letter to Cao Cao and leaves. He takes with him none of the luxuries and gifts Cao Cao gave him, except the Red Hare. He even gives up his title "Marquis of Hanshou Village" and leaves his official seal behind. Cao Cao's subordinates feel that Guan Yu is rude and arrogant because he left without bidding farewell, so they ask for permission to pursue him, capture him, and bring him back. Cao Cao disapproves because he knows that none of them can stop Guan Yu, and he gives orders for the officials along the way to give passage to Guan and his companions.
Guan Yu rides beside the carriage carrying his sisters-in-law and escorts them along the way. The first pass they reach is Dongling Pass (south of present-day Dengfeng, Henan). The guarding officer Kong Xiu denies Guan Yu passage because Guan does not have an exit permit with him. Infuriated, Guan Yu kills Kong Xiu and forces his way through the pass.
They reach the city of Luoyang next. The governor Han Fu leads 1,000 men to block Guan Yu. Han Fu's deputy Meng Tan challenges Guan Yu to a duel but ends up being sliced in two by Guan. While Guan Yu is fighting with Meng Tan, Han Fu secretly takes aim and fires an arrow at Guan. The arrow hits Guan Yu's arm and wounds him, but Guan pulls out the arrow from his wound, charges towards Han Fu and kills him. The shocked soldiers immediately give way and Guan Yu's party passes through safely.
Guan Yu's party arrives at Sishui Pass (north of present-day Xingyang, Henan). The guarding officer Bian Xi receives them warmly and invites Guan to a feast at the temple outside the pass. In fact, Bian Xi had ordered 200 men to wait in ambush inside the temple and kill Guan Yu when he gives a signal. Pujing, an elderly monk who is from the same hometown as Guan Yu, hints to Guan about Bian Xi's plot. Guan Yu senses the danger, kills Bian Xi, and passes through Sishui Pass safely.
Wang Zhi, the governor of Xingyang, adopts a similar scheme to kill Guan Yu. Like Bian Xi, he pretends to welcome Guan Yu and leads them to a courier station, where they will stay that night. After that, Wang Zhi orders his subordinate Hu Ban to lead 1,000 men to surround the station and set it on fire in the middle of the night. Curious to know what Guan Yu looks like, Hu Ban sneaks in and peeps at Guan Yu, who is reading inside his room. Guan Yu notices Hu Ban and invites him in. Guan Yu met Hu Ban's father earlier and has with him a letter from Hu's father addressed to his son. He gives the letter to Hu Ban. After reading his father's letter, Hu Ban changes his mind and decides to help Guan Yu. He reveals Wang Zhi's plot to Guan Yu and secretly opens the city gates for Guan and his companions to leave. Wang Zhi and his soldiers catch up with them a while later but Guan Yu turns back and kills him.
Guan Yu's party finally arrives at a ferry crossing on the southern bank of the Yellow River. Qin Qi, the officer in charge, refuses to allow them to cross the river and is killed by Guan Yu in anger. Guan Yu and his party then cross the river safely and enter Yuan Shao's territory. However, they soon realise that Liu Bei is no longer with Yuan Shao and has already left for Runan. Guan Yu and his party then make their way back and are finally reunited with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei at Gucheng.
Guan Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi provides a similar account of the reasons for Guan's departure and the events that happened before he left Cao Cao. However, it doesn't mention anything about Guan Yu crossing the five passes, nor about the six officers (Kong Xiu, Meng Tan, Han Fu, Bian Xi, Wang Zhi and Qin Qi).
Guo Jia's strategy to pacify Liaodong
Guan Yu slays Cai Yang at Gucheng
Guan Yu meets Zhang Fei at Gucheng (古城) after crossing five passes and slaying six generals. Zhang Fei is initially suspicious of Guan Yu because he mistakenly believes that Guan has betrayed their oath of brotherhood and joined Cao Cao. Despite explanation from Liu Bei's spouses, Zhang Fei refuses to listen and attacks Guan Yu. Both of them are locked in a duel when Cao Cao's officer Cai Yang (蔡陽) and a group of soldiers show up. Guan Yu turns around and kills Cai Yang to prove his loyalty. He regains Zhang Fei's trust in him and embraces his sworn brother.
Liu Bei's biography in the Sanguozhi mentions that Yuan Shao sent Liu Bei to Runan, where Liu allied himself with the bandit leader Gong Du. Cao Cao sent Cai Yang to attack them, and Cai was killed by Liu Bei in battle.
Liu Bei's horse leaps across the Tan Stream
When Liu Bei is in Xinye, he receives an invitation from Liu Biao, the governor of Jing Province (荊州; covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), to attend a feast. However, Liu Biao is sick so he asks his sons Liu Qi and Liu Cong to entertain Liu Bei. Liu Bei arrives in Xiangyang with Zhao Yun and is directed to the feast. Cai Mao and others attempt to use the opportunity to kill Liu Bei but Yi Ji secretly informs Liu Bei about Cai Mao's plot. Liu Bei escapes from Xiangyang under the pretext of going to the latrine. When Cai Mao discovers that Liu Bei has fled, he leads a group of soldiers in pursuit. Liu Bei is riding Dilu (的盧), a horse said to bring ill luck to its rider. He reaches the Tan Stream (檀溪), located west of Xiangyang, and attempts to ride across the stream. After taking a few steps, Dilu falls forward and Liu Bei's clothing becomes wet. Liu Bei whips the horse and exclaims, "Dilu! Dilu! Today you obstruct me!" Dilu suddenly rises above the surface and leaps three zhang (or 30 chi) across the stream to the opposite bank, bringing Liu Bei to safety.
The Shiyu (世語) gives a similar account of this incident. However, the historian Sun Sheng comments on this account as follows: "I do not think what it says is true. At the time, Liu Bei was making calculated moves. There was a big difference in the strengths of Liu Bei and Liu Biao's forces. If this incident really happened, why would Liu Bei remain silent about it throughout the period of time when Liu Biao was still alive? Why were there no signs of friction (between them)? This is merely twaddle from the common masses."
Three visits to the thatched cottage
Before leaving for Xuchang, Xu Shu recommends Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei to be his strategist and tells Liu that he needs to recruit Zhuge Liang personally. Accompanied by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, Liu Bei travels to Longzhong (in present-day Xiangyang, Hubei) to find Zhuge Liang. They arrive at Zhuge Liang's house (described to be a "thatched cottage"), where a servant tells them that his master is not at home. Liu Bei then asks the servant to pass a message to Zhuge Liang that Liu Bei came to visit him. Several days later, in winter, Liu Bei brings his sworn brothers along with him to visit Zhuge Liang again. This time, the servant leads Liu Bei to his "master", who turns out to be Zhuge Liang's younger brother, Zhuge Jun. Just as he is about to leave, Liu Bei sees a man approaching and thinks he must be Zhuge Liang, but he turns out to be Zhuge's father-in-law, Huang Chengyan. When winter is over and spring comes, Liu Bei decides to visit Zhuge Liang again, much to the annoyance of his sworn brothers. This time, Zhuge Liang is at home but is asleep. Liu Bei waits patiently until Zhuge Liang wakes up. Zhuge Liang drafts the Longzhong Plan for Liu Bei and agrees to leave home and serve Liu as his strategist.
There are no details in the Sanguozhi about how Liu Bei recruited Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang's biography briefly mentions that after Xu Shu recommended Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei, Liu visited Zhuge thrice, met him and talked to him. Zhuge Liang presented the Longzhong Plan to Liu Bei during their talk(s). However, the Weilue and the Jiuzhou Chunqiu (九州春秋) give different accounts on how Liu Bei first met Zhuge Liang. Both the Weilue and Jiuzhou Chunqiu claim that Zhuge Liang visited Liu Bei first, instead of the other way round. Both Zhuge Liang and Liu Bei did not know each other at first when the former came to visit the latter. Liu Bei did not pay much attention to Zhuge Liang because of Zhuge's young age. Zhuge Liang remained behind after Liu Bei's other guests left the meeting, but Liu did not ask him if he had anything to say and continued playing with a gift from one of the guests. Zhuge Liang initiated a conversation with Liu Bei. Liu Bei recognised his talent, viewed him in a different light, and started treating him more respectfully. Pei Songzhi comments that the two accounts contradict Zhuge Liang's own statement in the Chu Shi Biao, which says: "(Liu Bei) visited me thrice in the thatched cottage, (and) consulted me on the affairs of our time." He felt that it was obvious from the Chu Shi Biao that Zhuge Liang did not visit Liu Bei first.
Battle of Bowang
Battle of Changban
Zhuge Liang's diplomatic mission to Jiangdong
Before the Battle of Red Cliffs, Zhuge Liang goes to Jiangdong on a diplomatic mission to discuss the formation of an alliance between Liu Bei and Sun Quan to counter Cao Cao. Lu Su introduces Zhuge Liang to the civil officials and scholars serving under Sun Quan. Most of them are in favour of surrendering to Cao Cao. They start debating. Zhuge Liang manages to silence those who challenge him through his eloquent responses to their queries and comments. Insults and taunts are exchanged as well. The officials and scholars who debated with Zhuge Liang include Zhang Zhao, Yu Fan, Bu Zhi, Xue Zong, Lu Ji, Yan Jun and Cheng Bing. Zhang Wen and Luo Tong also want to challenge Zhuge Liang, but Huang Gai shows up and stops the debate.
Lu Su then introduces Zhuge Liang to Zhou Yu. Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu have a conversation in Zhou's house, with Lu Su present as well. Zhuge Liang says he has a plan to make Cao Cao to retreat without fighting a war: send Cao Cao the Two Qiaos. He also pretends that he does not know who the Qiao sisters are married to. When Zhou Yu asks Zhuge Liang for evidence that Cao Cao wants the Two Qiaos, Zhuge says he heard that Cao Cao asked his son Cao Zhi to write a poem, Ode to the Bronze Sparrow Platform (銅雀臺賦). Zhuge Liang recites the poem and points out that Cao Cao's desire to have the Qiaos is evident in the poem. Zhou Yu is enraged and he hardens his decision to persuade Sun Quan to ally with Liu Bei and fight Cao Cao.
The debate between Zhuge Liang and the scholars is not mentioned in any of the involved parties' biographies in the Sanguozhi. The biographies of Zhuge Liang, Sun Quan, Zhou Yu and Lu Su all confirmed that Zhuge Liang met Sun Quan on that diplomatic mission, but it remains unknown whether Zhuge met any other person on the same trip. Zhuge Liang's biography, in particular, contains a detailed record of a conversation between Zhuge Liang and Sun Quan.
The Bronze Sparrow Platform (銅雀臺) was built in the winter of 210, nearly three years after the Battle of Red Cliffs. Cao Zhi's poem Ode to the Bronze Sparrow Platform was written in 212, two years after the platform was constructed. Besides, the poem in Sanguo Yanyi contains seven additional lines which are not present in the historical version recorded in Cao Zhi's biography in the Sanguozhi. Therefore, the story in Sanguo Yanyi about Zhuge Liang using the poem to incite Zhou Yu's anger towards Cao Cao is entirely fictitious.
Zhou Yu tricks Jiang Gan
Borrowing arrows with straw boats
Zhou Yu feels jealous of Zhuge Liang's talent and foresees that he will become a threat to Sun Quan in the future, so he tries to think of ways to kill Zhuge Liang. When he asks Zhuge Liang to help him produce 100,000 arrows within 10 days, the latter says he can complete the task in three days. Zhou Yu then asks Zhuge Liang if he is willing to make a military pledge to complete the task. Under the pledge, if Zhuge Liang fails to produce 100,000 arrows in three days, he will be executed for failing his mission. When Zhuge Liang agrees and takes the pledge, Zhou Yu secretly feels delighted because he thinks that Zhuge cannot complete the task in time. On the third day, with help from Lu Su, Zhuge Liang prepares 20 large boats, each manned by a few soldiers and filled with human-like figures made of straw and hay. In the hours before dawn, when there is a great fog, Zhuge Liang deploys the boats and sails towards Cao Cao's camp across the river. He orders the sailors to beat war drums loudly and shout orders to imitate the sounds of an attack. Upon hearing the noises, Cao Cao's troops rush out to engage the enemy but they are unsure of the enemy force's size because their vision is obscured by the fog. They fire volleys of arrows in the direction of the noises and the arrows become stuck in the straw figures. In the meantime, Zhuge Liang enjoys wine with Lu Su inside the cabin and they sail back when the fog clears. By the time they returned to base, Zhuge Liang has acquired more than 100,000 arrows, so Zhou Yu cannot execute him.
This event is not documented in the Sanguozhi and is purely fiction. However, the Weilue mentioned a similar incident during the Battle of Ruxu in 213. Sun Quan sailed on a large vessel to observe Cao Cao's base. Cao Cao ordered his archers to fire arrows at Sun Quan's ship. The arrow were stuck to one side of the vessel and the ship was on the verge of overturning due to the weight of the arrows. Sun Quan ordered the vessel to turn around so the other side would have arrows stuck to it. Balance was restored and Sun Quan sailed back to his camp.
Huang Gai's self-torture ruse
Zhuge Liang prays for the eastern wind
After all preparations for the fire attack on Cao Cao's fleet have been made, Zhou Yu suddenly realises that for his plan to succeed, the wind must blow from the southeast or his own fleet would catch fire. When he sees the wind blowing from the northwest, he vomits blood, faints and becomes sick. Zhuge Liang visits him and points out the root cause of his illness – his worries about the wind. He claims that he knows magical arts and has the ability to change the direction of the wind. An altar is set up and Zhuge Liang performs rituals there for days until the southeast wind starts blowing just before the fire attack is launched. Zhuge Liang leaves immediately after the wind starts blowing because he knows that Zhou Yu will send his men to kill him. As Zhuge Liang expected, Zhou Yu sends Ding Feng and Xu Sheng to kill him, but he has already fled on a vessel captained by Zhao Yun.
Guan Yu releases Cao Cao at Huarong Trail
Guan Yu is sent to guard Huarong Trail (believed to be near Dongshan Town, Huarong County, Hunan) and intercept Cao Cao when he passes by after his defeat at the Battle of Red Cliffs. Zhuge Liang is initially reluctant to allow Guan Yu to take up the task because he is worried that Guan might consider the kindness Cao Cao showed towards him many years ago and end up releasing Cao. Guan Yu insists on accepting the mission and claims he has already repaid Cao Cao's kindness by slaying Yan Liang and Wen Chou and lifting the siege on Boma. He makes a military pledge to not let Cao Cao off; Zhuge Liang also makes a pledge that he will give his head to Guan Yu if Cao Cao does not show up at Huarong Trail. As Zhuge Liang predicted, Cao Cao reaches Huarong Trail and encounters Guan Yu there. However, Guan Yu decides to spare Cao Cao in consideration of their past dealings, and after taking pity on the plight of Cao Cao's men and Zhang Liao, whom he saved from death at the Battle of Xiapi. He allows Cao Cao and his men to pass through Huarong Trail unharmed. When he returns to camp, he confesses the truth to Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang orders Guan Yu to be executed for failing in his mission but pardons him when Liu Bei intervenes.
This incident is not mentioned in the Sanguozhi and is entirely fiction. The Shanyang Gong Zaiji (山陽公載記) stated that after Cao Cao lost the Battle of Red Cliffs, he retreated with his surviving men and passed by Huarong Trail. The path was muddy and difficult to access, so Cao Cao ordered the weaker soldiers to lay the ground with straw and hay so that his horsemen can pass. Many of those weaker soldiers were trampled to death when they became stuck in the mud. When Cao Cao finally got out of the dire situation, he expressed joy so his generals asked him why he was happy. Cao Cao replied, "Liu Bei, he's my mate. However, he doesn't think fast; if he had set fire earlier I'd have no chance of escaping." Liu Bei did think of setting fire but it was too late as Cao Cao had already escaped.
Taishi Ci's death
Battle of Changsha
Liu Bei and Lady Sun's marriage
Sun Quan adopts Zhou Yu's "beauty scheme" (美人計) to seize control of Jing Province (荊州; covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) from Liu Bei. In the plan, Liu Bei is lured to Jiangdong under the pretext of marrying Sun Quan's younger sister Lady Sun to affirm the Sun-Liu alliance. Sun Quan would then hold Liu Bei hostage in exchange for Jing Province. Zhuge Liang foils Zhou Yu's scheme and the marriage becomes reality. Liu Bei also leaves Jiangdong and returns to Jing Province safely with his bride. Zhou Yu leads some soldiers to pursue the couple after they leave, but falls into an ambush by Liu Bei's forces. Liu Bei's men chant, "Zhou Lang (Zhou Yu's nickname)'s brilliant strategy brings peace to the world. He lost both the lady and his soldiers." (周郎妙計安天下，陪了夫人又折兵！). The infuriated Zhou Yu coughs blood and faints.
The marriage between Liu Bei and Lady Sun was mentioned in Liu Bei's biography in the Sanguozhi as follows: After Liu Qi died of illness, Liu Bei's subordinates urged him to assume governorship of Jing Province, with the provincial capital at Gong'an (公安; present-day Gong'an County, Hubei). Sun Quan felt slightly uneasy so he married his younger sister to Liu Bei to strengthen relations between him and Liu Bei. This suggests that the marriage took place in Gong'an, as Sun Quan sent his sister there to marry Liu Bei, instead of Liu travelling to Sun's territory for the marriage.
However, Zhou Yu's biography mentioned that Zhou Yu suggested to Sun Quan to have Liu Bei confined in their territory. After Liu Bei assumed governorship of Jing Province, he went to Jing (京; present-day Zhenjiang, Jiangsu) to meet Sun Quan. At the time, Zhou Yu told 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." 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). He was also worried that Liu Bei's men might not submit to him, so he rejected Zhou Yu's idea. This shows that Zhou Yu wanted to confine Liu Bei in Wu and use him as a hostage to control his men (Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and others), but nothing was mentioned about him using Lady Sun as a bait to lure Liu Bei into a trap. The women mentioned in the plan were used to entertain Liu Bei during his confinement and distract him from his men. Most importantly, the plan was not carried out because Sun Quan disapproved, therefore the story in Sanguo Yanyi is purely fiction.
Fa Zheng's biography in the Sanguozhi hinted that Liu Bei and Lady Sun's relationship was not as romantic as described in Sanguo Yanyi, but rather, Liu Bei was suspicious of Lady Sun and feared her. Zhuge Liang once said, "When our lord (Liu Bei) was in Gong'an, he was wary of Cao Cao's influence in the north and fearful of Sun Quan's presence in the east. Even in home territory he was afraid that Lady Sun might stir up trouble." Lady Sun's personality was described as follows in Fa Zheng's biography: Sun Quan married his sister to Liu Bei. She was fierce and tough in character, much like her elder brother. She had about 100 female servants, each of them standing on guard and carrying a sword. Every time Liu Bei entered (her room), he felt a chill in his heart.
Zhou Yu's death
Zhou Yu's death is mentioned in Chapter 57. In the previous chapter, Zhou Yu comes up with a plan to help Sun Quan seize Jing Province from Liu Bei. He pretends to help Liu Bei attack Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) and asks for passage through Jing Province. When Liu Bei agrees, Zhou Yu feels overjoyed because his true intention is to conquer Jing Province when his army passes through. However, Zhuge Liang sees through Zhou Yu's ruse and sets a trap. Zhou Yu falls into the trap and is surrounded by Liu Bei's forces. He is overwhelmed by fury and falls off his horse. Zhuge Liang later writes a letter to Zhou Yu, asking him to give up on attacking Yi Province and return to Wu instead because Cao Cao might take advantage of his absence to invade Wu. Zhou Yu then writes to Sun Quan and tells the other Wu generals to give their full support to their lord. He faints afterwards, regains consciousness and sighs, "If (Zhou) Yu were to be born, why must (Zhuge) Liang exist as well?" He dies after repeating that line several times.
This is the third time Zhou Yu is infuriated by Zhuge Liang after sustaining an arrow wound at the Battle of Jiangling. The first time is when Liu Bei, acting on Zhuge Liang's advice, seizes control of many territories in Jing Province when Zhou Yu and his men are busy fighting with Cao Cao's forces for control of the province. The second time is when Zhuge Liang foils his "beauty scheme". (See #Liu Bei and Lady Sun's marriage.) Zhou Yu's condition worsens after each incident and he eventually dies on the third time.
Zhou Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi mentioned that Zhou was preparing for a campaign to conquer Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) and Hanzhong in western China when he died of illness at Baqiu (巴丘; present-day Yueyang, Hunan). Nothing was mentioned about Zhuge Liang causing Zhou Yu's death.
New Book of Mengde
In Chapter 60, Liu Zhang sends Zhang Song as an envoy to meet Cao Cao in Xuchang. Zhang Song ridicules Cao Cao in front of his registrar, Yang Xiu. Yang Xiu shows Zhang Song the New Book of Mengde (孟德新書), a military book written by Cao Cao and based on The Art of War. Zhang Song looks through the book and laughs and says, "Even young children in Shu can recite this book, how can it be a "new book"? This book was written by an anonymous writer during the Warring States period. Chancellor Cao plagiarised the book, and people like you are deceived by him." Zhang Song then recites the book verbatim to convince Yang Xiu. When Yang Xiu tells Cao Cao about the incident later, Cao Cao tears the book and burns it.
The Wei Shu (魏書) mentioned that Cao Cao wrote military books and gave them to his generals. The New Book of Mengde was mentioned and quoted in Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong, a dialogue between Emperor Taizong of the Tang dynasty and the general Li Jing. Cao Cao's commentary on The Art of War is still extant and is included in many annotated versions of the book.
Battle of Tong Pass
Pang Tong's death
Battle of Jiameng Pass
Guan Yu attends a banquet alone armed with only a blade
Guan Yu attends a banquet hosted by Lu Su, armed with only his Green Dragon Crescent Blade. The banquet is actually a mask for an attempt by Lu Su and Sun Quan's officers to threaten Guan Yu to hand over Jing Province (荊州; covering present-day Hubei and Hunan). Lü Meng, Gan Ning and some soldiers are lying in ambush near the banquet area, waiting for a signal from Lu Su to dash out and kill Guan Yu. Guan Yu knows it is a trap but he still shows up and argues with Lu Su about Jing Province. He senses the hidden danger but pretends to be drunk, grabs Lu Su and holds him hostage as he is about to leave. He releases Lu Su only after he boards his vessel bound for Jing Province.
The Sanguozhi mentioned Guan Yu and Lu Su having talks over the division of Jing Province between their respective lords. During the negotiations, both sides had their soldiers stationed at least a hundred paces away from the meeting area, while each of the officers present at the talks was armed with a blade weapon. See Lu Su#Sun-Liu territorial dispute, Lü Meng#Sun-Liu territorial dispute and Gan Ning#Guan Yu's shallows for details.
Hua Tuo heals Guan Yu's arm
During the Battle of Fancheng, Guan Yu is injured in the arm by a crossbow bolt coated with poison. The physician Hua Tuo comes to his camp and offers to heal his arm. After diagnosis, Hua Tuo says the poison has already seeped through the flesh into the bone and he needs to perform surgery on Guan Yu's arm. He also tells Guan Yu that he must be blindfolded and his arm must be secured before the surgery can be carried out, but Guan says it is too troublesome and asks him to perform the surgery on the spot. Hua Tuo cuts open the flesh on Guan Yu's arm, exposing the bone, then scrapes off the venom on the bone and stitches up the wound. Guan Yu shows no sign of pain and continues playing weiqi with Ma Liang during the surgery. He thanks Hua Tuo for healing his arm and wants to reward him but Hua declines.
Hua Tuo's biography in the Sanguozhi did not specify his year of death, but it is certain that he died before 208. (See #Cao Cao's death for more information.) The Battle of Fancheng took place in 219, some 11 years after 208, so it was not possible for Hua Tuo to be around to heal Guan Yu's arm. However, Guan Yu's biography in the Sanguozhi mentioned a similar incident, but without Hua Tuo's involvement. See Guan Yu#Arm injury for details.
Lü Meng's death
Events after Guan Yu's death
In Chapter 77, after Guan Yu died, his spirit roams the land and cries out, "Return my head!" His spirit comes to Yuquan Hill outside Dangyang County (present-day Dangyang, Hubei) and encounters Pujing, the monk who saved his life many years ago at Sishui Pass. Pujing tells the spirit, "Now you ask for your head, but from whom should Yan Liang, Wen Chou, the pass guardians and many others ask for theirs?" Guan Yu's spirit is enlightened and disappears, but henceforth it manifested itself around the hill and protected the locals from evil. The locals built a temple on the hill to worship the spirit. Pujing is said to have built a grass hut for himself at the southeastern foot of Yuquan Hill in the final years of the Eastern Han dynasty. The Yuquan Temple (玉泉寺), the oldest temple in the Dangyang region from where the worship of Guan Yu originated, was built on the exact location of the hut, and its construction was completed only until the Sui dynasty.
Sun Quan sends Guan Yu's head to Cao Cao in the hope of pushing the responsibility of Guan's death to Cao. When Cao Cao opens the box containing Guan Yu's head, he sees that Guan's facial expressions resemble those of a living person. He smiles and says to the head, "I hope you are well since we last parted." To his horror, Guan Yu's head opens its eyes and mouth and the long beard and hairs stand on ends. Cao Cao collapses and does not regain consciousness until a long time later. When he comes to, he exclaims, "General Guan is truly a god from heaven!" Then he orders the head to be buried with honours befitting a noble.
Cao Cao's death
When Cao Cao starts complaining about splitting headaches in his final days, his subjects recommend Hua Tuo, a physician with remarkable skills, to heal him. Hua Tuo diagnoses Cao Cao's illness to be a form of rheumatism in the skull. He suggests giving Cao Cao a dose of hashish and then splitting open his skull with a sharp axe to extract the pus within. Due to an earlier incident with another physician Ji Ping, who attempted to poison him, Cao Cao is suspicious of any physician. He believes that Hua Tuo intends to kill him to avenge Guan Yu so he orders Hua to be imprisoned. Hua Tuo dies a few days later in prison. Cao Cao dies from his illness not long later.
Cao Cao's biography in the Sanguozhi mentioned that he died in Luoyang in 220 at the age of 66 (by East Asian age reckoning). Hua Tuo's biography mentioned that Cao Cao had Hua Tuo executed when Hua refused to treat his chronic headaches. Cao Cao regretted killing Hua Tuo because his son Cao Chong died from illness, and he believed that Hua Tuo could have cured Cao Chong. Hua Tuo's biography did not specify his year of death, but it is certain that he died before 208, the year in which Cao Chong died. Therefore, the story in Sanguo Yanyi is entirely fiction.
The Shiyu (世語) and the Cao Man Zhuan (曹瞞傳) provided more dramatic accounts of the events before Cao Cao's death. The Shiyu account stated that Cao Cao wanted to build a palace in Luoyang so he ordered a Zhuolong Shrine (濯龍祠) to be demolished, but blood spilt out from a tree. The Cao Man Zhuan account mentioned that Cao Cao wanted a pear tree to be moved. When the workers uprooted the tree, blood spilt out from its roots, and the workers were all shocked. Cao Cao heard about it and went there to take a closer look. He was disgusted and felt that it was an unlucky omen. He became ill after returning home.
Battle of Xiaoting
Zhang Liao's death
Meng Huo captured and released seven times
The Nanman barbarian king Meng Huo rebels against Shu. Zhuge Liang leads an army to pacify the Nanman tribes. Meng Huo is defeated and captured by Zhuge Liang's forces seven times. During the first six times, Meng Huo complains that he is dissatisfied because he was captured by strategy and did not have a chance to fight a real battle, so Zhuge Liang releases him each time to come back for another battle. On the seventh time, Meng Huo feels ashamed of himself and swears eternal allegiance to Shu.
Pei Songzhi's annotations to Zhuge Liang's biography in the Sanguozhi contained a line about "capture and release seven times" but no details were provided. Characters associated with Meng Huo such as E'huan (鄂煥), Lady Zhurong, Meng You and King Mulu are fictional.
Zhuge Liang's Northern Expeditions
- (先主與二人寢則同床，恩若兄弟。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (羽年長數歲，飛兄事之。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 2.
- (督郵以公事到縣，先主求謁，不通，直入縛督郵，杖二百，解綬係其頸著馬枊，五葬反。棄官亡命。 典略曰：其後州郡被詔書，其有軍功為長吏者，當沙汰之，備疑在遣中。督郵至縣，當遣備，備素知之。聞督郵在傳舍，備欲求見督郵，督郵稱疾不肯見備，備恨之，因還治，將吏卒更詣傳舍，突入門，言「我被府君密教收督郵」 。遂就床縛之，將出到界，自解其綬以系督郵頸，縛之著樹，鞭杖百餘下，欲殺之。督郵求哀，乃釋去之。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 4.
- (卓表太祖為驍騎校尉，欲與計事。太祖乃變易姓名，間行東歸。魏曰：太祖以卓終必覆敗，遂不就拜，逃歸鄉里。) Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 5.
- (出關，過中牟，為亭長所疑，執詣縣，邑中或竊識之，為請得解。世語曰：中牟疑是亡人，見拘於縣。時掾亦已被卓書；唯功曹心知是太祖，以世方亂，不宜拘天下雄俊，因白令釋之。) Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- (世語曰：岱既死，陳宮謂太祖曰：「州今無主，而王命斷絕，宮請說州中，明府尋往牧之，資之以收天下，此霸王之業也。」宮說別駕、治中曰：「今天下分裂而州無主；曹東郡，命世之才也，若迎以牧州，必寧生民。」鮑信等亦謂之然。信乃與州吏萬潛等至東郡迎太祖領兗州牧。) Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 8-9.
- (卓常使布守中閤，布與卓侍婢私通，恐事發覺，心不自安。) Sanguozhi vol. 7.
- (然卓性剛而褊，忿不思難，嘗小失意，拔手戟擲布。布拳捷避之，為卓顧謝，卓意亦解。由是陰怨卓。) Sanguozhi vol. 7.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 24-25.
- (先主之襲殺徐州刺史車胄，使羽守下邳城，行太守事，魏書云：以羽領徐州。而身還小沛。建安五年，曹公東徵，先主奔袁紹。曹公禽羽以歸，拜為偏將軍，禮之甚厚。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 25-26.
- (紹遣大將軍顏良攻東郡太守劉延於白馬，曹公使張遼及羽為先鋒擊之。羽望見良麾蓋，策馬刺良於萬眾之中，斬其首還，紹諸將莫能當者，遂解白馬圍。) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- (紹渡河，壁延津南，使劉備、文丑挑戰。太祖擊破之，斬丑，再戰，禽紹大將。) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 26-28.
- (初，曹公壯羽為人， ... 左右欲追之，曹公曰：「彼各為其主，勿追也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 36.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 28.
- (紹遣先主將本兵復至汝南，與賊龔都等合，眾數千人。曹公遣蔡陽擊之，為先主所殺。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 34-35.
- (世語曰：備屯樊城，劉表禮焉，憚其為人，不甚信用。曾請備宴會，蒯越、蔡瑁欲因會取備，備覺之，偽如廁，潛遁出。所乘馬名的盧，騎的盧走，墮襄陽城西檀溪水中，溺不得出。備急曰：「的盧：今日厄矣，可努力！」的盧乃一踴三丈，遂得過，乘浮渡河，中流而追者至，以表意謝之，曰：「何去之速乎！」) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (孫盛曰：此不然之言。備時羈旅，客主勢殊，若有此變，豈敢晏然終表之世而無釁故乎？此皆世俗妄說，非事實也。) Sun Sheng's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 37-38.
- (由是先主遂詣亮，凡三往，乃見。) Sanguozhi vol. 35.
- (亮乃北行見備，備與亮非舊，又以其年少，以諸生意待之。坐集既畢，眾賓皆去，而亮獨留，備亦不問其所欲言。備性好結毦，時適有人以髦牛尾與備者，備因手自結之。亮乃進曰：「明將軍當復有遠志，但結毦而已邪！」備知亮非常人也，乃投毦而答曰：「是何言與！我聊以忘憂耳。」亮遂言曰：「將軍度劉鎮南孰與曹公邪？」備曰：「不及。」亮又曰：「將軍自度何如也？」備曰：「亦不如。」曰：「今皆不及，而將軍之眾不過數千人，以此待敵，得無非計乎！」備曰：「我亦愁之，當若之何？」亮曰：「今荊州非少人也，而著籍者寡，平居發調，則人心不悅；可語鎮南，令國中凡有游戶，皆使自實，因錄以益眾可也。」備從其計，故眾遂強。備由此知亮有英略，乃以上客禮之。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 35.
- (...三顧臣於草廬之中，諮臣以當世之事。) Zhuge Liang. Chu Shi Biao.
- (臣松之以為亮表云「先帝不以臣卑鄙，猥自枉屈，三顧臣於草廬之中，諮臣以當世之事」，則非亮先詣備，明矣。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 35.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 43.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 44.
- (備進住夏口，使諸葛亮詣權，權遣同瑜、程普等行。) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- (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。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (備遂到夏口，遣亮使權，肅亦反命。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (先主至於夏口，亮曰：「事急矣，請奉命求救於孫將軍。」時權擁軍在柴桑，觀望成敗，亮說權曰：「海內大亂，將軍起兵據有江東，劉豫州亦收眾漢南，與曹操並爭天下。今操芟夷大難，略已平矣，遂破荊州，威震四海。英雄無所用武，故豫州遁逃至此。將軍量力而處之：若能以吳、越之眾與中國抗衡，不如早與之絕﹔若不能當，何不案兵束甲，北面而事之！今將軍外託服從之名，而內懷猶豫之計，事急而不斷，禍至無日矣！」權曰：「苟如君言，劉豫州何不遂事之乎？」亮曰：「田橫，齊之壯士耳，猶守義不辱，況劉豫州王室之冑，英才蓋世，眾士仰慕，若水之歸海，若事之不濟，此乃天也，安能復為之下乎！」權勃然曰：「吾不能舉全吳之地，十萬之眾，受制於人。吾計決矣！非劉豫州莫可以當曹操者，然豫州新敗之後，安能抗此難乎？」亮曰：「豫州軍雖敗於長阪，今戰士還者及關羽水軍精甲萬人，劉琦合江夏戰士亦不下萬人。曹操之眾，遠來疲弊，聞追豫州，輕騎一日一夜行三百餘里，此所謂『彊弩之末，勢不能穿魯縞』者也。故兵法忌之，曰『必蹶上將軍』。且北方之人，不習水戰﹔又荊州之民附操者，逼兵勢耳，非心服也。今將軍誠能命猛將統兵數萬，與豫州協規同力，破操軍必矣。操軍破，必北還，如此則荊、吳之勢彊，鼎足之形成矣。成敗之機，在於今日。」權大悅，即遣周瑜、程普、魯肅等水軍三萬，隨亮詣先主，並力拒曹公。) Sanguozhi vol. 35.
- (十五年春， ... 冬，作銅雀台。) Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- (Chinese) Ode to the Bronze Sparrow Platform on Chinese Wikisource. The additional seven lines are highlighted in red.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 46.
- (魏略曰：權乘大船來觀軍，公使弓弩亂發，箭著其船，船偏重將覆，權因回船，復以一面受箭，箭均船平，乃還。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 49.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 50-51.
- (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.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 54-55.
- (琦病死，群下推先主為荊州牧，治公安。權稍畏之，進妹固好。) Sanguozhi vol. 32.
- (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，必非久屈為人用者。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。"權以曹公在北方，當廣攬英雄，又恐備難卒制，故不納。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (亮答曰：「主公之在公安也，北畏曹公之強，東憚孫權之逼，近則懼孫夫人生變於肘腋之下；...」) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
- (初，孫權以妹妻先主，妹才捷剛猛，有諸兄之風，侍婢百餘人，皆親執刀侍立，先主每入，衷心常凜凜；...) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 56-57.
- (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。瑜還江陵，為行裝，而道於巴丘病卒，時年三十六。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- (此書吾蜀中三尺小童，亦能暗誦，何為『新書』？此是戰國時無名氏所作，曹丞相盜竊以為己能，止好瞞足下耳！) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 60.
- (魏書曰：太祖自統禦海內，芟夷群醜，其行軍用師，大較依孫、吳之法，而因事設奇，譎敵制勝，變化如神。自作兵書十萬餘言，諸將征伐，皆以新書從事。) Wei Shu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong on Chinese Wikisource.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 66.
- (肅邀羽相見，各駐兵馬百步上，但諸將軍單刀俱會。) Sanguozhi vol. 54.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 74-75.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 77.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 77-78.
- (庚子，王崩於洛陽，年六十六。) Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- (佗之絕技，凡此類也。 ... 及後愛子倉舒病困，太祖嘆曰：「吾悔殺華佗，令此兒強死也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 29.
- (世語曰：太祖自漢中至洛陽，起建始殿，伐濯龍祠而樹血出。) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- (曹瞞傳曰：王使工蘇越徙美梨，掘之，根傷盡出血。越白狀，王躬自視而惡之，以為不祥，還遂寢疾。) Cao Man Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 1.
- Sanguo Yanyi ch. 87-91.
- (亮笑，縱使更戰，七縱七禽，而亮猶遣獲。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 35.
- Chen, Shou. Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
- Fan, Ye. Book of the Later Han (Houhanshu).
- Fang, Xuanling. Book of Jin (Jin Shu).
- Luo, Guanzhong. Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).
- Pei, Songzhi. Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
- Sima, Guang. Zizhi Tongjian.