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Hou Cheng

Hou Cheng
Personal details
OccupationMilitary officer

Hou Cheng (About this soundpronunciation ) (fl. 198–199) was a military officer serving under the warlord Lü Bu during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.

In historical records

In 198, during the Battle of Xiapi, fought between the warlords Lü Bu and Cao Cao (with support from Liu Bei), Cao's forces besieged Lü Bu in Xiapi (下邳; present-day Pizhou, Jiangsu) and directed the waters of the Yi (沂) and Si rivers to flood the city. After three months, the morale of Lü Bu's army fell drastically and his men gradually alienated him.[1]

Around this time, Hou Cheng sent a trader to purchase 15 horses, but the man escaped with the horses and headed towards Xiaopei (小沛; present-day Pei County, Jiangsu) with the intention of defecting to Liu Bei. Hou Cheng personally pursued the trader and retrieved all the horses. Lü Bu's officers then threw a feast to celebrate Hou Cheng's achievement. Hou Cheng prepared 5-6 hu (斛) of wine and about ten roasted hogs, and he presented half a hog and five dou (斗) of wine to Lü Bu before the feast started. He knelt down and said, "With your grace, I managed to retrieve the stolen horses. The others came to congratulate me, so I prepared some wine and hogs for a feast. I don't dare to start first, so now I present the food and wine to you." Lü Bu was furious and he said, "I banned alcohol, but you and the others dare to throw a party! Are you plotting with them to kill me?" Hou Cheng was shocked and he immediately left. He also discarded the wine he prepared and returned the gifts he received from the other officers. On 7 February 199,[a] Hou Cheng, along with his colleagues Song Xian (宋憲) and Wei Xu (魏續), captured Lü Bu's strategist Chen Gong and general Gao Shun, and led their troops to surrender to Cao Cao.[3]

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms

This incident was dramatised in Chapter 19 of the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. When Hou Cheng presented wine to Lü Bu, the latter was angry because Hou defied his ban on alcohol. Lü Bu ordered Hou Cheng to be executed, but Song Xian (宋憲) and Wei Xu (魏續) pleaded with their lord to spare Hou Cheng. Lü Bu then had Hou Cheng flogged 50 times before releasing him. Hou Cheng later plotted with Song Xian and Wei Xu to betray Lü Bu, so he stole Lü Bu's horse, the Red Hare, escaped from Xiapi, and went to Cao Cao's camp, where he told Cao Cao about their plot. With the aid of Song Xian and Wei Xu, Cao Cao's forces broke into Xiapi and captured Lü Bu.[4]

See also


  1. ^ The Zizhi Tongjian recorded that Lü Bu surrendered to Cao Cao on the guiyou day of the 12th month of the 3rd year of the Jian'an era of the reign of Emperor Xian of Han. He was executed on the same day.[2] This date corresponds to 7 February 199 in the Gregorian calendar.


  1. ^ (曹操壍圍之,壅沂、泗以灌其城,三月,上下離心。其將侯成使客牧其名馬,而客策之以叛。成追客得馬,諸將合禮以賀成。成分酒肉,先入詣布而言曰:「蒙將軍威靈,得所亡馬,諸將齊賀,未敢甞也,故先以奉貢。」布怒曰:「布禁酒而卿等醞釀,為欲因酒共謀布邪?」成忿懼,乃與諸將共執陳宮、高順,率其衆降。) Houhanshu vol. 75.
  2. ^ ([侯]成忿懼,十二月,癸酉,成與諸將宋憲、魏續等共執陳宮、高順,率其衆降。[呂]布與麾下登白門樓。兵圍之急,布令左右取其首詣[曹]操,左右不忍,乃下降。 ... 宮請就刑,遂出,不顧,操為之泣涕,幷布、順皆縊殺之,傳首許市。操召陳宮之母,養之終其身,嫁宮女,撫視其家,皆厚於初。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 62.
  3. ^ (九州春秋曰:初,布騎將侯成遣客牧馬十五匹,客悉驅馬去,向沛城,欲歸劉備。成自將騎逐之,悉得馬還。諸將合禮賀成,成釀五六斛酒,獵得十餘頭豬,未飲食,先持半豬五斗酒自入詣布前,跪言:「間蒙將軍恩,逐得所失馬,諸將來相賀,自釀少酒,獵得豬,未敢飲食,先奉上微意。」布大怒曰:「布禁酒,卿釀酒,諸將共飲食作兄弟,共謀殺布邪?」成大懼而去,棄所釀酒,還諸將禮。由是自疑,會太祖圍下邳,成遂領衆降。) Jiuzhou Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 7.
  4. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 19.