Words of Victory

Even a great man like Cao Cao (曹操) needed some motivation at times.

In the Battle of Guandu (官渡之战), Cao Cao was contemplating a withdrawal after failing to break down Yuan Shao (袁绍) ‘s huge army and was running low on food supplies.

Cao Cao wrote to his top advisor, Xun Yu (荀彧), for his opinions on the matter. Xun, in his reply, urged Cao to stand firm and believed Yuan was no match to Cao’s military brilliance . 

Encouraged Xun ‘s words, Cao Cao was able to rout Yuan Shao in that decisive battle, despite of numerical disadvantage, and eventually gained total control over China’s northern territories (河北).

Below is the letter by Xun Yu, reproduced from The Romance of 3 Kingdoms 三国演义, which I think is a most inspiring piece of writing.    

(Yes, I know some of you can’t read Chinese, but I just want to leave the orginal words as it is…)

“承尊命,使决进退之疑。

愚以袁绍悉众聚于官渡,欲与明公决胜负公以至弱当至强,若不能制,必为所乘:是天下之大机也。

绍军虽众,而不能用以公之神武明哲何向而不济!今军实虽少,未若楚、汉在荥阳、成皋间也。

公今画地而守,扼其喉而使不能进,情见势竭,必将有变。此用奇之时,断不可失。惟明公裁察焉。”

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曹操, 字孟德

 

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