How Much Do You Know About This Man, Napoleon and Socrates Rolled Into One?

    The painting shows the 'Empty Fort Stratagem.' After General Ma Su of Shu Han lost the strategically important city of Jieting, General Sima Yi, the enemy, made to besiege Zhuge Liang’s fortress at Xicheng. But the meager troops within Xicheng were no match for Wei’s forces. So Zhuge hit upon a plan: he evacuated the city, ordered all the gates open, and climbed atop the main battlement to calmly play a Chinese zither. Sima Yi, upon seeing Zhuge’s composure, was convinced it was a trap. Victory within grasp, he was fooled, and instead withdrew his forces. (Image: Taste of Life)The painting depicts 'Conversation at Longzhong.' Zhuge Liang stands on the right with his fan, while holding a map of China laying out his strategy. When Liu Bei (front left) sought Zhuge Liang’s counsel on his third visit to the latter’s thatched cottage, Zhuge was finally moved by Liu’s sincerity and invited him to a conversation on stately affairs. (Image: Taste of Life)

    “O so vast, O so mighty,
    The Great River rolls to sea,
    Flowers do waves thrash,
    Heroes do sands smash,
    When all the dreams drain,
    Same are loss and gain.”So opens and closes the most famous of China’s great novels, called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Of all the heroes in the novel, the most studied, imitated, and admired is Zhuge Liang (AD 181-234), a strategist and adviser, and the most well-known of China’s ancient prime ministers. He is honored as China’s version of Napoleon and Socrates, rolled into one.
    Zhuge Liang studied under the tutelage of a famous scholar-hermit, Sima Hui. He showed enormous promise, and was granted the moniker “Master Sleeping Dragon” by which he became widely known in later years.China at that time was in the midst of the disintegration of the once powerful Han Dynasty, and Zhuge wanted to assist a wise lord to re-establish and reinvigorate the empire.
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