Pang Tong bigraphy, stories - Advisor to Liu Bei

Pang Tong : biography

179 - 214

Pang Tong (179–214), style name Shiyuan, was an advisor to the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. Originally a minor official in Nan commandery in Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), Pang Tong came to serve Liu Bei in around 209 after the latter was appointed as the provincial governor. In the early 210s, he accompanied Liu Bei on a military campaign to seize control of Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) from the warlord Liu Zhang, but was killed by a stray arrow in a battle at Luo County (north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan) in 214.

In fiction

Pang Tong is featured as a character in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, Pang Tong was portrayed as a brilliant military strategist who equalled Zhuge Liang. Sima Hui recommended Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang as talents to aid Liu Bei through the following lines: "Hidden Dragon and Young Phoenix. If you can get either of them, you will be able to pacify the empire."(水鏡曰:「伏龍、鳳雛,兩人得一,可安天下。」) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 35.

In Chapter 47, prior to the Battle of Red Cliffs, Pang Tong was introduced by Jiang Gan to Cao Cao and he presented a "chain links strategy" (連環計) to Cao. The plan involved linking Cao Cao's battleships together with strong iron chains, so as to make the ships more stable when they were sailing, as well as to reduce the chances of Cao's soldiers falling seasick due to excessive rocking. This contributed to Cao Cao's defeat as his battleships were unable to separate from each other during the fire attack in the battle, and when one ship is set aflame, the other ships linked to it caught fire as well. Sanguo Yanyi ch. 47-50.

Pang Tong's death during the war between Liu Bei and Liu Zhang was highly dramatised in Chapter 63. Before the battle at Luo County (雒縣; present-day Guanghan, Sichuan), Pang Tong's horse reared and threw him off its back. This was regarded as a bad omen. Liu Bei then offered to Pang Tong his own steed, Dilu (的盧), out of kindness. Dilu was said to bring bad luck to its rider. Liu Zhang's general Zhang Ren, who planned an ambush near Luo County, recognised Dilu and mistook its rider to be Liu Bei, so he ordered his archers to fire at the rider. Pang Tong was hit by several arrows which pierced through his body and he died on the spot. His place of death was called "Valley of the Fallen Phoenix".Sanguo Yanyi ch. 63.

Serving Liu Bei in Jing Province

Pang Tong became a subject of Liu Bei after the latter assumed governorship of Jing Province in late 209. He initially served as an "Assistant Officer" (從事) and as the "Prefect of Leiyang" (耒陽; present-day Leiyang, Hunan), but was later dismissed from office due to poor performance. Sun Quan's general Lu Su wrote to Liu Bei, recommending Pang Tong as a talent. Liu Bei's strategist Zhuge Liang also recommended Pang Tong, so Liu Bei recruited Pang to be an "Assistant Officer in the Headquarters Office" (治中從事). Liu Bei's treatment towards Pang Tong was second to that of Zhuge Liang. He later appointed both Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang as "Military Advisor Generals of the Household" (軍師中郎將).(先主領荊州,統以從事守耒陽令,在縣不治,免官。吳將魯肅遺先主書曰:「龐士元非百里才也,使處治中、別駕之任,始當展其驥足耳。」諸葛亮亦言之於先主,先主見與善譚,大器之,以為治中從事。親待亞於諸葛亮,遂與亮並為軍師中郎將。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

Death

Pang Tong later participated in a battle against Liu Zhang's forces at Luo County (雒縣; north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan). He was hit by a stray arrow while attacking the city and died from his wound. He was 36 years old (by East Asian age reckoning) at the time of his death. Liu Bei was deeply saddened by Pang Tong's death and he would weep whenever Pang's death was mentioned. Pang Tong was posthumously granted the titles of a "Secondary Marquis" (關內侯) and "Marquis Jing" (靖侯) after Liu Bei founded the state of Shu Han.(進圍雒縣,統率衆攻城,為流矢所中,卒,時年三十六。先主痛惜,言則流涕。 ... 追賜統爵關內侯,謚曰靖侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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