The man Cao Cao: A hero or a hero?

12 Mar 2024

Since the beginning of the last century, Three Kingdoms was translated into Vietnamese and warmly welcomed by generations of Vietnamese readers. In China, the birthplace of this number one epic - novel, the Three Kingdoms has always maintained its strong vitality.
Is Cao Cao a villain or a hero? Indeed, up to now, experts on China's Three Kingdoms are still "inconclusive" on this topic, even though all sides seem to acknowledge Cao Cao as a prominent great man. With our admiration for the work, we would like to discuss a few points, looking forward to receiving guidance from the great scientists.

1. The Three Kingdoms covers a historical period of nearly a century (from 184 to 280 AD), in which the three kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu formed a cauldron in the process of suppressing the uprising. peasants and in wars between vassals. Starting from the uprising of the three Truong Gioc brothers, which history calls the Yellow Turban (Yellow Turban) Uprising, until Sima Yan, nephew of Wei general Sima Yi, unified China to establish the Jin Dynasty. and put an end to the conflict between the three kingdoms.

Author La Guanzhong wrote Three Kingdoms with the "orthodox" viewpoint of pro-Han Yen Luu, whose ideology was mainly formed by the influence of Confucian doctrine combined with some elements of Buddhism and Taoism. To him, the Cao family was not a descendant of the Liu (Han) family, so it was seen as opposed to Liu Bei and the people of the Trung Son Tinh Vuong lineage. From a progressive standpoint, La Quan Trung expressed the people's wishes to live in peace and under the reign of a wise king. Therefore, naturally the opponent Cao Cao must be described as a traitor.

Be smart from a young age. Because he was mischievous, his uncle often told his father, Cao Tung. Therefore, Cao immediately thought of a plan to trick him. Seeing his uncle coming, Cao pretended to lie down on the ground like someone who had been hit by a wind. Uncle Cao was so scared when he saw this that he ran to tell Cao Tung. When Tung saw that his child was okay, he asked:
- You said you had a stroke, are you cured?
- Father, I have never had that disease since I was a child! It's just that you hate me to say something like that.
From then on, Cao Tung believed the truth and never believed his younger brother when he accused Cao Cao again.

People are too familiar with the anecdotes about Cao Cao with his "deadly" motto: "It is better for me to betray others than for others to betray me", for example, Cao Cao killed the entire family of La Ba Sa and borrowed the head of the Queen to use. Calm down the army, pretend to be asleep and then kill the servants... In the "seven truths and three falsehoods" of the Three Kingdoms, the author borrows from Cao Cao to describe in a general and vivid way the dishonesty and suspicion. , cruelty and cunning of the ruling class of the time and of many eras.

The Jin dynasty's Luc Co said: "Although Cao Cao's merits filled all of China, he was extremely cruel, and everyone hated him." Cao Cao discriminated against people who understood his guts, and Duong Tu and Tuan Uc were later victims. Luo Guanzhong expressed his hatred towards the Cao family through the eloquent poem composed by Tran Lam when Yuan Shao was preparing to raise troops to attack Cao Cao... Is it true that with the main ideology of the Three Kingdoms, in Cao Cao, the word benevolence - the first element of the Five Constants, considered most lacking compared to other aspects. This is not difficult to explain when witnessing the antipathy towards him of many generations of readers. But

2. Even though the author describes Cao Cao as an evil villain, a character that can make people afraid when thinking of him, the paradox is that La Guanzhong still has to used the best words to talk about Cao Cao, including writing many touching details to describe that man's outstanding talent and very gentlemanly behavior.

As soon as he appeared for the first time, the author especially favored Cao Cao: "... Suddenly, a group of soldiers and horses with red flags rushed out to block the road. A general with his head was seven meters tall, with small eyes and a beard. Long. Who is that general? That is, a cavalry captain, from Tieu district, Bai country, surname Cao, name Cao, surname Manh Duc." La Quan Trung continued: At that time, someone named Kieu Huyen told Thao: - The world is about to go into chaos, unless there is someone more talented than the rest of the world, then we can hope to quell the chaos. Only you can do that. Ha Ngung in Nam Duong, one day saw Thao passing by and also praised: - The Han Dynasty is about to disappear, only this person can keep the world at peace!

A hero but not a traitor (translation by Phan Ke Binh - Bui Ky). That is the author's way of describing his central character through his physical appearance. However, it was not until he described the Cao family's behavior when in command of the army that La Guanzhong's pen was able to excellently express what he wanted to say.
Right from the time he first became an official, Cao Cao stood out for his integrity and always respected the law with the motto "the law is not personal", so he was very respected by the people. As a person who highly valued talent, regardless of "precious or convenient", Cao Cao appeared to have the most progressive views among the mandarins at that time. Only Cao Cao volunteered to enter the palace to assassinate the thief Dong Trac.
The job failed, he fled and was caught by Tran Cung. Cao said loudly: - Our ancestors have always enjoyed the fortunes of the Han dynasty. If we don't think of ways to report to the country, we will be no different from other animals. Now that the job is not done, it is also Tr's heart
Cao Cao was most outstanding compared to all generals of his time in terms of understanding and using people. He is a hero so he also respects heroes and the story "Drinking and discussing heroes" of the Three Kingdoms is just an example. Highly valuing talent and maintaining trust, that is also the number one quality of the Cao family. That's why there hasn't been a single general who left Cao Cao. Listen to what Cao Hong told him when he saw that Cao Cong did not want to use his horse to escape when surrounded by the enemy - "If you run away, the enemy will kill you."

You go! The world can be without me but not without you! Knowing that Quan Cong was a famous general, Cao Cao treated him extremely well: The upper horse was given gold, the lower horse was given silver (on the horse gave gold, on the horse gave silver); Five days a big party, three days a small party. Knowing that Truong Phi was talented, he told the generals to write Duc Duc's name on the lapel of their shirts, so that when they met, they could not underestimate the enemy. Seeing that Tu Long was outstanding, Cao Cao ordered Cao Hong to take the command to send his horse down to tell the generals not to shoot, and Tu Long also escaped danger from there...

3 To the mandarins and strategists who symbolized the wisdom of Chinese military art at one time, Cao Cao expressed his appreciation from the insiders. First of all, he himself is also an extremely good strategist. Cao Cao went on his own to find a good person, unlike Liu Bei who had to use "Three attempts to prepare a fire" to recruit Khong Minh according to Sima Huy's recommendation, or Ton Quyen who used Truong Chieu according to his brother Sun Sach's and his deathbed entrustment. Introduction by Chu Du. With uncles and nephews, Tuan Du, Tuan Uc, Trinh Duc, Dong Chieu... it's all like that. In just a moment, describing the great battle of Guan Do, viewers can clearly see what the general's praise for "The Prime Minister uses troops like a god" was for Cao Cao.

He was wise, but he was also the only person in the Three Kingdoms who never ended a battle as soon as there was a chance, even if there was only a small hope, to turn defeat into victory. Watching the Three Kingdoms, we only see Cao Cao, in the bullets at the Wei River, in the fire burning Puyang, or in the midst of losing his shirt and losing his beard, he still has the ability to turn defeat into victory in an instant with wise decisions. Therefore, the saying "Unexpectedly fell for Cao Cao's trick" is not unique to anyone in the Three Kingdoms.

Cao did not have time to put on his shoes, barefoot to welcome Hua Du, cried to say goodbye to Tran Cung, missed Tham Phoi, Thu Thu, worshiped Dien Vi and even sacrificed Vien Thieu. Cao Cao used Tran Lam even though he was the one who wrote the words insulting three generations of his family. On the way to fight Vien Hy, Vien Thuong still took care of Quach Gia who was sick. When Ha Hau Don lost his eye, he went to his bed to ask...

Cao especially hated those who sold lords for glory, of which the beheading of Miao Trach was an example. In their time, history recorded that father and son Cao Cao, Cao Pi and Cao Thuc were all famous poets. Cao Cao was skilled in playing chess, poetry, poetry even in difficult times, was humorous when losing in battle (Hoa Dung, Xich Bich streets), and was good at playing music in the barracks. Cao Cao is a connoisseur of architecture: from big things like "approving" the plan to build Dong Tuoc temple to small details about the gate of the flower garden in the main hall. Going far away to fight Mac Dac, on the way he still stopped to visit the house of the late historian Sai Ung and then went to the tombstone to read the epitaph with an extremely profound detail of Cao Cao's wisdom. Is there anyone equal?

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