A person’s life will say a lot, some important, some unimportant. Generally speaking, the last words are, of course, the most important words, and even the truth realized in a lifetime. But some people will also say “unimportant words” in their last words. There are also celebrities here, even once very “important” people. Cao Cao was a great politician, strategist and poet in the Three Kingdoms period. He devoted his whole life to unifying the country and pursuing and safeguarding his supreme power. But his last words had little to do with his lifelong career.
Before Cao Cao died, he asked all sons not to mistreat maidservants and concubines and singers and dancers, and let them live on the bronze sparrow platform to guard the spiritual tent. The spiritual tent is very simple: the spiritual bed is one foot long, the cloth curtain is hung, and dry meat and dry food are placed in the morning and evening. On the first and fifteenth days of each month, from morning to noon, artists sing and dance to the spiritual tent. You are required to often climb the Tongque platform and look at the tombs in the western suburbs. Incense is not used for sacrifice, and the remaining incense is distributed to ladies. People in all rooms have nothing to do. They can weave ribbons and make shoes to sell money. The clothes left will be distributed among the children. This can be regarded as a mother-in-law’s last words.
Posterity expressed a lot of emotion about Cao Cao’s last words of “selling shoes and incense”. Pu Songling wrote a poem saying, “it’s always a pity to be affectionate, because the husband and wife are the most affectionate. From now on, I’ll go back with you, and I’ll never share incense and shoes.” It means that when Cao Cao bid farewell to the world, he was sentimentally attached to his husband and wife, divided the fragrance as a memorial, and ordered to sell shoes to ensure that there was no danger of food and clothing. It was rather short of heroism and long for children.
Speaking of Cao Cao’s love for children, there are many stories, among which the story of the original wife Ding can best reflect Cao Cao’s character.
Cao Cao’s original wife, Mrs. Ding, was infertile and took Cao ang, the son of Mrs. Liu, who died early, as his son. Cao ang died in the water disaster. Mrs. Ding deeply resented Cao Cao and cried all day long, accusing her husband of his mistakes. Cao Cao was bored and sent her back to his mother’s house, hoping to pick her up after his grief faded. Since then, Cao Cao sent several people to pick him up, but Mrs. Ding rejected him. So Cao Cao went to the Ding family in person to pick up his wife home. Mrs. Dante just weaves alone, completely ignoring Cao Cao. Cao Cao stroked his wife’s back and said, “go back by car with me!” Mrs. Ding was still unmoved. Cao Cao stood outside the door disappointed, “you’d better go back with me! Do you really want to say goodbye to me?” Mrs. Dante’s face was always black and refused to pay attention. Cao Cao had to leave the Ding family alone.
Later, Cao Cao sent a letter asking Mrs. Ding to remarry, and Ding father dared not obey. Lady Ding finally died at her mother’s home, and Cao Cao was very sad and guilty. His last words are also related to this. He said to Cao Pi, “there is spirit after death. Zixiu asked him if his father and mother were safe, and what would he say for his father?”
Not only Mrs. Ding, Cao Cao ordered all his wives and concubines to remarry before his death: “after thousands of years of looking after me, you and Cao should all marry.”
Cao Cao, a powerful king of Wei, did not have military affairs in his last words, but all his family members were short-lived and affectionate. But there are other reasons why Cao Cao did not talk about military and state affairs on his deathbed. This just reflects his brilliance, because later events have already been arranged properly. Shortly after Cao Cao’s death, Cao Pi, his son and successor, accepted the “concession” of Emperor Xian of Han Dynasty and became emperor of Wei. Cao Cao himself was also posthumously named Emperor Wu of Wei.