Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book XLIII. Ssuma Yen Reunites the Three Kingdoms

One day, as the Prince of Chin was feasting, he mysteriously died. They believe he was poisoned by his son, Ssuma Yen, who succeeded him as Prince. Ssuma Yen was more ambitious than his father. He wanted to become Emperor himself and soon forced Emperor Ts’ao of Wei to abdicate in his favor. When one of the Wei nobles denounced him, he had the man executed and said, “Wei seized power from Han. What is wrong with Chin seizing power from Wei?” In this manner, the great kingdom founded by Ts’ao Ts’ao almost fifty years earlier fell.

Ssuma Yen ascended the throne as Emperor Chin Kuang Wu Ti, and his only rival in the land was now Emperor Sun Hao of Wu. But Sun Hao was not a great man. He kept hundreds of wives, listened to music all day, and did not work towards the greatness of his Kingdom. True to the words of his grandfather, the Emperor Ssuma Yen spent ten years improving the economy of Chin. He would sometime go down-to-earth and till the soil with common farmers. In this manner, he was well-loved by the common citizens of Chin, and Chin became a powerful empire.

He then sent the Chin army against Wu, but Wu was defended by the great Marshal Ding Feng. The Chin general and Ding Feng hath great respect for each other and was unsure if one could dispatch each other. Instead, they embarked on a war of delay, exchanging gifts such as ermine and winter hare with each other. When winter turned to summer, Ding Feng died of old age.

With Ding Feng’s death, Ssuma Yen felt it was high time to conquer Wu. To prevent any further delays, he personally led the armies of Chin himself. The Wu navy put a brave defense and had chains interlocked on the river Yangtze to block the Chin navy, but Ssuma Yen ordered those chains molten with fire ships.

After that, the Chin navy easily outnumbered and crushed the Wu navy. With no able general like Ding Feng to defend Wu, the Chin army marched upon its capital of Nanking itself. When Emperor Sun Hao knew he had no chance of beating Ssuma Yen, he had himself offered up in a coffin, as was the tradition of surrender in those days.

Emperor Ssuma Yen lifted Sun Hao from the coffin and embraced him as an adopted son. From that day onwards, Ssuma Yen demoted Sun Hao to Prince of Happiness, and Wu was conquered by Chin. In this manner, China was now reunified under Ssuma Yen, and the Age of the Three Kingdoms came to an End.

The period is known for great men of wisdom (Kung Ming and Chou Yu), bravery (Kuan Yu and Chao Yun), and charisma (Ts’ao Ts’ao and Liu Pei) more than any other period in Chinese history. In my view, Ssuma Yen was not the greatest man of his age, but his victory merely came because he was the last one standing. Kingdoms withered and fell like leaves in autumns. Anyway, hope you enjoyed all our 43 episodes.

No comments:

Post a Comment