Born and raised in Sri Lanka, we have too many vertical and horizontal stories about the iron horse, ice river and jade war in the Three Kingdoms era. Today, when the historian Mr. Wang Zengyu presented the dusty history scroll to us, we were still shocked by the truth and massiness. At the same time, we also re described the “Three Kingdoms” mark in our hearts. Recently, the “Yellow River humanities lecture hall” jointly sponsored by this newspaper and the Yellow River humanities club had the honor to invite Mr. Wang Zengyu, a famous historical expert. At the forum held by Rebecca Hotel, Wang Zengyu gave two special lectures on “reviewing the romance of the Three Kingdoms from the perspective of modern history” and “patriotic hero Yue Fei”.
Wang Zengyu researched the romance of the Three Kingdoms from a historical perspective and commented on the national hero Yue Fei. His professional perspective, unique views and incisive analysis made people refreshing and benefited a lot. In the six hour lecture, he led the participants to talk with the ancients across the millennia, taste the long culture, and immerse themselves in the long river of history.
Three Kingdoms: all Heroes rise together
Wangzengyu believed that the romance of the Three Kingdoms was written by skillfully tailoring and blending the historical facts contained in Chen Shou’s annals of the Three Kingdoms, peisongzhi’s notes and the book of the later Han Dynasty, and integrating the long-standing folk legends of the Three Kingdoms. The romance of the Three Kingdoms tells about the past events of the Three Kingdoms. If it is read according to the research of modern history, it will have a distinct brand of the times. As the past of the Three Kingdoms has been separated for more than a thousand years, the author inevitably adds contemporary famous objects to the novel. For this reason, Wang Zengyu extensively consulted various documents and materials, trying to truly reproduce the “Three Kingdoms situation”.
Uncover the mystery of the faces of Liu, Guan and Zhang
The stories of the Three Kingdoms have been circulating among the people for a long time and have been indelible in the minds of ordinary people. It is generally believed that Guan Yu has a red face, red phoenix eyes and lying silkworm eyebrows; Zhang Fei has a dark face, a leopard’s head and eyes, a swallow’s chin and a tiger’s beard; Liu Bei has a white face, with his ears hanging over his shoulders and his hands over his knees. In fact, the annals of the Three Kingdoms said that Liu Bei “dropped his hands and knees, and looked at his ears”. The biography of Lu Bu recorded that Lu Bu called him “big ears” before he died. The earlier annals of the Three Kingdoms said that Liu Bei “had his ears hanging over his shoulders”, which was actually influenced by Buddhism. In addition, the annals of the Three Kingdoms only said that Guan Yu “had a beautiful beard”, and there were no other records of Guan Yu and Zhang mianxiang. In the annals of the Three Kingdoms and the romance of the Three Kingdoms, there is no saying that Zhang Fei has a black face. As for Guan Yu, the Pinghua of the annals of the Three Kingdoms said that his face was like purple jade. In the first episode of the romance of the Three Kingdoms, it was changed to “face was like jujube”. It can be seen that the long-standing images of Guan and Zhang have no historical records.
Real Liu Bei looks like Zhang Fei
Liu Bei recorded in the historical materials that “he likes dogs and horses, music, beautiful clothes” and “he is kind to servants”. The romance of the Three Kingdoms deleted it, but added the sentence “he is broad in nature”. Wangzengyu commented that the romance of the Three Kingdoms tried to portray Liu Bei as the “benevolent Lord”, so all those that did not conform to the “heroic image” were deleted.
Zhang Fei’s flogging of governor posts has become a familiar story among the people. In fact, this is what Liu Bei did. It is said in history that Liu Bei “except for an Xi, the governor of the post went to the county on official business. He first asked the Lord to pay a visit. He went straight to tie the governor of the post with a staff of 200, untied the ribbon and tied it around his neck. He abandoned his official and ran for his life”. This originally reflected the violent side of Liu Bei, but it became the corroboration of Zhang Fei’s violent character in the romance.
History says “scrape bones to remove poison” and “cut off literary ugliness”
Wangzengyu said that the stories of Hua Tuo’s “killing bones and poisons” for Guan Yu and Guan Yu’s “killing literary clowns” have spread widely. In fact, there is a certain gap between the legend and historical facts. In the romance of the Three Kingdoms, there is a section “Hua Tuo scraped bones and treated poison for Guan Yu”, but it is not contained in the later Han Dynasty, the annals of the Three Kingdoms and the biography of Hua Tuo. The annals of the Three Kingdoms and the biography of Guan Yu do have records of Guan Yu’s “scraping bones and removing poison”, but there is no doctor’s name. The romance of the Three Kingdoms skillfully integrates the two events, but it is not a historical fact.
According to the records in the annals of the Three Kingdoms, the literary ugliness in history was actually killed by Cao Cao’s officers and men, not Guan Yu.
Cao Cao’s scheming surpasses Liu Bei’s
In ancient times, there were Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and other generals who could fight on the battlefield, but according to history, Cao Cao was “short in appearance” and obviously not suitable for fighting on the battlefield. But he was undoubtedly the first-class military commander of the Three Kingdoms era. Wangzengyu believes that the image of Cao Cao as a traitor in the romance of the Three Kingdoms is more in line with historical facts.
In his biography of the first master, Chen Shou commented that Liu Bei “did not catch Wei Wu because he had the power to do something.”. In other words, Liu Bei did not use machinations in the fierce political and military struggle, but he could not compare with Cao Cao.
Yue Fei: national pain
In Wang Zengyu’s eyes, Yue Fei is a hero with the most charisma. In traditional folk literature, Yue Fei is often described as half god and half man. In order to more truly reproduce this period of history and write about the national soul of Yue Fei, a hero, Wang Zengyu consulted a large number of documents and materials, from the economy, clothing, customs to the language used in the Song Dynasty, which he examined in particular in detail and with evidence.
Yue Fei and Xuchang
In his lecture, wangzengyu mentioned that when Yue Fei commanded the army to carry out a large-scale Northern Expedition, he fought three times in Yingchang (today’s Xuchang), all of which ended in victory. These campaigns were all examples of Yue’s army’s victory over many with a few, and its victory over arrogant soldiers with mourning. The battle of Yingchang laid a solid foundation for Yuefei to recover Kaifeng, one of the important cities in the Southern Song Dynasty.
Spirit of Yue Fei
Wangzengyu believed that Yue Fei’s spirit first lies in “patriotism”. Whenever the motherland suffers humiliation, disaster or danger, the Chinese people will cherish the memory of Yue Fei. Yue Fei’s Red River and the spirit of “being loyal to the country” have inspired generations of Chinese people to serve the country by example.
Yue Fei retains many virtues of the Chinese nation, which is very rare in history. He was incorrupt and self disciplined. He was not greedy for wine, sex and money. He selflessly dedicated his son to the battlefield and let him charge ahead. In the first World War, Yue Yun was wounded in more than 100 places. He was beaten by blood men and horses. He won a great victory in the difficult war. However, Yue Fei failed to report his son’s military exploits. Yue Fei left a famous saying that “literary ministers do not love money, military ministers do not hesitate to die, and the world should be peaceful”. Even today, it still has a strong sense of criticism.
Yue Fei’s death
After Yue Fei was put into prison, when the prison officials were using the punishment, Yue Fei showed his back stab to “be loyal to the country”. It is generally believed that “serving the country faithfully” was stabbed by his mother-in-law. Wang Zengyu said this was a misunderstanding. In ancient times, “stabbing characters” was a skill. As the mother-in-law was a peasant woman, it was impossible to stab characters for Yue Fei personally. Wangzengyu also pointed out that Yue Fei eventually died in prison, rather than the legendary “storm Pavilion”.
Yue Fei was recovered by 12 gold medals and killed on the charge of “unwarranted”. Some people think that Yue Fei is “Yuzhong”, but Wang Zengyu has his own understanding of this. He believed that Yue Fei faithfully fulfilled his oath of “being loyal to the country”, opposed and criticized song Gaozong’s surrender policy from beginning to end, and worked tirelessly for the reunification of the north and the south. Wangzengyu believed that people should not demand that Yue Fei “have a sense of advance against autocratic politics”, and Yue Fei himself was “a victim of autocratic and corrupt politics”.
Sir, the wind is high and the water is long
— Mr. Wang Zengyu (seal)
Although Mr. Wang Zengyu is in his seventies, he is hale and hearty and has bright eyes. His ancestral home in Shanghai, he speaks slowly and clearly, and has a great style. Mr. Wang didn’t stay long in Xuchang, but he left a deep impression on the author.
After graduating from the History Department of Peking University, Mr. Wang was assigned to the Institute of history of the Chinese Academy of social sciences as a researcher, mainly engaged in the study of song history, and is now the president of the China Song History Research Association. He is diligent in learning and has published many academic works and historical documentary novels. Historians stress “truthfulness, objectivity, tolerance, without bias”, and he practiced it.
Before each lecture, he always rushed to the meeting place early and waited quietly in a corner. At the end of each lecture, the participants would ask him for some relevant questions, and he always gave detailed answers in combination with historical facts in spite of fatigue. After the lecture on the “Three Kingdoms”, someone asked him about the Three Kingdoms allusions and folk customs widely spread in our city. He immediately responded: “I don’t know, but I can recommend some relevant books to you.” The preciseness of his scholarship is evident.
Mr. Wang doesn’t smoke or drink. When the host arranged the meal, he repeatedly stressed: “please be simple, home-made dishes are the best.”
He ate with relish a few ordinary dishes ordered at his request. After the staple food noodles came up, Mr. Wang said that he couldn’t eat so much, so he wanted an empty bowl, picked out some with public chopsticks, and told everyone that anyone who didn’t have enough can continue to eat. Don’t waste it.
He said that he had experienced hardships. At present, the national strength is not strong. The people must economize. Waste is shameful and terrible.
Be content with poverty
During the chat, Mr. Wang hated the corruption phenomenon in the current academic circles. He wrote articles and attacked it many times. Although he caused trouble by “touching the tiger’s ass”, he still worked hard to do it. He said, “as a historian, I should dare to speak frankly, tell the truth, and do my bit for the interests of the motherland and the nation.”
His life, to outsiders, is monotonous and boring. Every day, he goes back and forth between the library of the Academy of Social Sciences and his home. He often sits in front of the computer for hours and occasionally listens to foreign classical music. He said that he also had the opportunity to make more money, but because he was satisfied with his present life, he was no longer demanding. Talking about some people who can’t stand loneliness and can’t do solid learning, he said with a smile: “others take the Yangguan Road, I take the single wooden bridge. Gentlemen ask for different things, but each has his own pleasure.”
He is rigorous, modest, peaceful, and has nothing to desire. Old Mr. Wang Zengyu has given us too much enlightenment after class.