day [General] Yang Hu* [of the Sima-Jin Dynasty] and his officers went out to
hunt, and it happened that [General] Lu Kang** [of the Sun-Wu Dynasty] had chosen
the same day to hunt. Yang Hu gave strict orders not to cross the boundary
[between the two armies], and so each hunted only on his own side. Lu Kang was
astonished at the enemy’s scrupulous propriety.
sighed, “The soldiers of Yang Hu have so high a discipline that I may not make
any invasion now.”
the evening, after both parties had returned, Yang Hu ordered an inspection of
the slaughtered game and sent over to the other side any that seemed to have been
first struck by the soldiers of Wu.
Kang was greatly pleased and sent for the bearers of the game.
your leader drink wine?” asked he.
replied, “Only fine wines does he drink.”
have some very old wine,” replied Lu Kang, smiling, “and I will give of it to
you to bear to your general as a gift. It is the wine I myself brew and drink
on ceremonial occasions, and he shall have half in return for today’s courtesy.”
took the wine and left.
do you give him wine?” asked Lu Kang’s officers.
“Because he has shown kindness, and I must return courtesy
the gift of wine arrived and the bearers told Yang Hu the story of their
reception, he laughed.
he knows I can drink,” said Yang Hu.
had the jar opened, and the wine was poured out. One of his generals,
Chen Yuan, begged him to drink moderately lest there should be some harm come
Kang is no poisoner,” replied Yang Hu.
he drank. The friendly intercourse thus continued, and messengers frequently passed
from one camp to the other.
day the messengers said that Lu Kang was unwell and had been ailing for several
think he suffers from the same complaint as I,” said Yang Hu. “I have some remedies
ready prepared and will send him some.”
drugs were taken over to the Wu camp.
the sick man’s officers were suspicious and said, “This medicine is surely
harmful: It comes from the enemy.”
Lu Kang said, “No; old Uncle Yang Hu would not poison a person. Do not doubt.”
drank the decoction. Next day he was much better.
his staff came to congratulate him, he said, “If our opponents take their stand
upon virtue and we take ours upon violence, they will drag us after them
without fighting. See to it that the boundaries be well kept and that we seek
not to gain any unfair advantage.
Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (translated Charles Henry Brewitt-Taylor, 1925) (first printed version circa 1522).
Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘Courtesy,’ New Reform Club (Apr. 26, 2023, 7:37 AM), <https://tinyurl.com/yssf4eae>;
*Yang Hu (courtesy name: Shuzi) was the Marquis of Juping. Sima Yan offered him a dukedom, but he turned it down. I suppose the reason he turned it down was that had he accepted he would have had to give up his military field command.
**Lu Kang (courtesy name: Youjie) was Lu Xun’s (courtesy name: Boyan) son. General Lu Xun defeated (Shu-Han) Emperor Liu Bei (courtesy name: Xuande) at the Battle of Yiling and Xiaoting Hill circa 221–222 CE. Lu Xun served (Wu) Emperor Sun Quan (courtesy name: Zhongmou). And Lu Kang served Sun Quan’s grandson (Wu) Emperor Sun Hua (courtesy name: Yuanzong). Sun Hua was the fourth and last emperor of Wu. The conquest of Wu by (Jin) Emperor Sima Yan (courtesy name: Anshi) circa 280 CE marked the end of the Three Kingdoms period. As the nameless poet proclaimed: “All down the ages rings the note of change, For fate so rules it; none escapes its sway. The three kingdoms have vanished as a dream, The useless misery is ours to grieve.”