A Qing dynasty illustration of Pang Tong
|Military Adviser General of the Household|
(under Liu Bei)
c. 209 – 214
Serving with Zhuge Liang
|Monarch||Emperor Xian of Han|
|Assistant Officer in the Headquarters Office|
(under Liu Bei)
? – ?
|Monarch||Emperor Xian of Han|
|Assistant Officer (從事)|
(under Sun Quan)
? – 209
|Monarch||Emperor Xian of Han|
|Prefect of Leiyang (耒陽令)|
(under Sun Quan)
? – 209
|Monarch||Emperor Xian of Han|
|Died||214 (aged 35)[a]|
|Resting place||Pang Tong Shrine and Tomb|
|Courtesy name||Shiyuan (士元)|
|Posthumous name||Marquis Jing (靖侯)|
Pang Tong (pronunciation (help·info)) (179–214), courtesy name Shiyuan, was an adviser to the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. In his youth, he was disregarded because of his plain looking however Sima Hui highly esteemed him calling him the "the crown of learned men in Jing Province". He studied under him along with Zhuge Liang, Xu Shu and Xiang Lang and was given the nickname of "Fledgling Phoenix". Because of his friendly attitude, he worked as an appraiser in Nan Commandery. When reviewing someone, he would prioritize their virtue over their abilities and would encourage them to help others.
He briefly served Zhou Yu and befriended Lu Ji, Gu Shao and Quan Cong before joining Liu Bei in 209 after the latter became the provincial governor. Under the recommendation of both Lu Su and Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei appointed him to Assistant Officer and promoted him to Military Adviser Generals of the Household. He advised Liu Bei to take over Yi Province accompanied him on on his campaign (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) against the warlord Liu Zhang, but was killed by a stray arrow during a battle at Luo County (north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan) in 214.
Pang Tong was from Xiangyang Commandery, Jing Province. In his youth, he looked plain and simple, so he was not highly regarded. When he reached adulthood (around 19 years old), he visited Sima Hui, who was famous for spotting and recommending men of talent. They came to a mulberry tree, where Sima Hui climbed up to get the fruit while Pang Tong sat below, and they chatted for a whole day until nightfall. Sima Hui felt that Pang Tong was an extraordinary person and called Pang "the crown of learned men in Jing Province". Subsequently, Pang Tong started gaining more recognition among the scholar-gentry. Along with Zhuge Liang who was nicknamed "Crouching Dragon" (臥龍) and Sima Hui who was nicknamed "Water Miror" (水鏡). Pang Tong was nicknamed "Fledgling Phoenix" (鳳雛; also translated as "Young Phoenix") by his uncle Pang Degong (龐德公).
Pang Tong's uncle was from also from Xiangyang. He was an acquaintance of Zhuge Liang who dearly respected him always bowing deeply before him when he visited his house. While Pang Degong was crossing the Mian to pay respect and tributes along with sacrifices to his ancestor's tomb, Sima Hui visited his house so he called Pang Degong's wife and children then told them to prepare the meal for an important guest known from Xu Shu that would come to see him and Pang Degong. Pang Degong's wife and children respectfully followed his instructions. Soon Pang Degong was back and stood in attention for the meeting even though he did not know who the guest was. Sima Hui was ten years younger than Pang Degong and so he treated him as an older brother. Calling him affectionately Lord Pang to the point where people thought that Lord Pang (Pang Gong) was his personal name although it wasn't true.
Pang Degong's son, Pang Shanmin (龐山民) also enjoyed a good reputation and married Zhuge Liang's youngest elder sister and became a Gate Appointment Gentleman but he died young. His son Pang Huan (龐渙), whose courtesy name was Shìwen (世文) between the years 280 and 289 became Administrator of Zangke. While he was young Pang Tong didn't have anyone take note of him and only Pang Degong valued him highly. When he was eighteen years, he was sent to meet Sima Hui. After Sima Hui talked with him, he sighed and said: “Pang Degong truly knows how to judge people. This is truly a boy of majestic moral character.”
Pang Tong later served as an Officer of Merit (功曹) in Nan Commandery (南郡; around present-day Jiangling County, Hubei). By nature, Pang Tong was sociable and diligent in fostering and mentoring. Hence, he was nominated to be an appraiser. When he reviewed people, he focused more on their personal virtues rather than their abilities. He was fond of ethical lessons and consistently strove to maintain high moral standards. He usually overpraised when he was asked to assess a person.
At times, people were puzzled so they questioned him on why he did that, to which he replied:
“The world is currently in disorder and customs and principles often forgotten. Good people are overwhelmed by the evil. I desire to change social norms and revive good customs by encouraging good people and giving them a better (exaggerated) reputation, so they can be admired by the many and served as role models for others. Let's say I give exaggerated praises for ten but I'm wrong for five of them however I still have gotten half of them then those can act as lofty examples to teach those of our time and cause the ambitious to act fairly, is this not acceptable?”
In 209, Zhou Yu, a general under the warlord Sun Quan, occupied Nan Commandery after the Battle of Jiangling. After Zhou Yu was appointed as the Administrator (太守) of Nan Commandery, Pang Tong served as a minor official under him. When Zhou Yu died in 210, Pang Tong travelled to Jiangdong to attend his funeral. He received a warm reception by the officials in Jiangdong. Pang Tong met and befriended Lu Ji, Gu Shao and Quan Cong. He also appraised each of them separately and described Lu Ji as "a horse that cannot run fast but has strong willpower", and Gu Shao as "an ox that is physically weak but capable of bearing burdens over great distances". Then he compared Quan Cong to Fan Zizhao of Runan describing him as someone generous who admire respectable men.. They were very pleased with his comments.
Someone then asked Pang Tong: "Does that mean Lu Ji is better than Gu Shao?" Pang Tong replied: "Although a horse can run fast, it can only bear the weight of one person. An ox can travel 300 li a day; it can certainly bear more than just the weight of one person!" Gu Shao later asked Pang Tong: "You are also known for being a good judge of character. Between us, who do you think is the better one?" Pang Tong replied: "I am not as good as you in associating with people and assessing their characters. However, when it comes to politics and strategy, it seems that I am one day ahead of you." Gu Shao agreed with Pang Tong and developed a close bond with him. Before Pang Tong left, Lu Ji and Gu Shao told him: "When peace is restored in the Empire, we want to have a good discussion with you about famous people." Both of them became friend with Pang Tong.
Pang Tong became a subject of Liu Bei after the latter became the Governor of Jingzhou in late 209. He initially served as an Assistant Officer (從事) and as the county magistrate (縣令) of Leiyang, 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 great talent that should be employed to important tasks and not managing a small territory. 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 Adviser Generals of the Household (軍師中郎將).
Around the early 210s, Pang Tong convinced Liu Bei to seize Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) and use its resources to compete with his rival Cao Cao for supremacy over China. Pang Tong said :
“Jing Province is in ruins and ravaged by constant conflicts. His people are exhausted with Sun Quan to the east and Cao Cao to the north looming over them and so the tripartite balance will be difficult to achieve. Now Yi Province is wealthy and his people are strong, his population in the million and many troops and horses present in all the region that can be obtained and shouldn't be asked from the outside. Now, you can seize it and accomplish your great entreprise."
Liu Bei answered :
“At this moment, my rival is Cao Cao. He is suspicious while I'm lenient. He is cruel while I'm kind. He is deceitful while I'm loyal. If I always oppose him in that way, our plan may be accomplish. Now for a small reason, I would lose the faith and trust of the people under the sky. I won't do it.”
Pang Tong replied :
“This is a period of change where one must shown himself flexible and cannot be settled by a single principle. Subduing the weak while attacking secretly was the way of the Five Hegemons. Ending the rebellion and defending the loyal, treating them with respect and honesty while rewarding them fairly after the conflict end. How is that turning back on righteousness? Be careful that if you don't take it today, it ends in someone else's lap.”
Liu Bei heeded Pang Tong's suggestion.
In 211, Liu Bei led an army from Jing Province into Yi Province on the pretext of helping Yi Province's governor, Liu Zhang, counter an invasion from the warlord Zhang Lu in Hanzhong Commandery. Zhuge Liang remained behind to guard Jing Province while Pang Tong followed Liu Bei to Yi Province. Liu Zhang received Liu Bei at Fu County (涪縣; present-day Mianyang, Sichuan). Pang Tong urged Liu Bei to use the opportunity to capture Liu Zhang and force him to hand over Yi Province, but Liu Bei refused because he was new to Yi Province and had not established a strong foundation there yet. Liu Zhang later returned to Yi Province's capital, Chengdu.
Pang Tong outlined three plans for Liu Bei to choose from:
Pang Tong told Liu Bei that if he took too much time and didn't go then he would be in great danger and couldn't last. Liu Bei chose the middle plan and executed it – he killed Yang Huai and Gao Pei, led his forces towards Chengdu and conquered several of Liu Zhang's territories along the way.
When Liu Bei expressed joy during a banquet in Fu County to celebrate his success saying that today should be a merry day, Pang Tong chided him, saying that "celebrating the invasion of others' territory isn't what a man of ren (benevolence) should do". The drunk Liu Bei retorted angrily, "King Wu of Zhou also rejoiced after his victory over King Zhou of Shang. Is he not an example of a man of ren? You're wrong, so get out now!" After Pang Tong left, Liu Bei regretted what he said so he invited Pang back. Pang Tong returned to his seat and did not say anything, acting as usual, so Liu Bei asked, "When that quarrel happened just now, whose fault do you think it was?" Pang Tong replied, "It was both yours and mine." Liu Bei laughed and the banquet continued.
Xi Zuochi commented on this event and said :
“When one is acting as a warlord, he must first observe benevolence and righteousness in each of his actions, consider faith and justice as his model; if one of those is not respected than the way isn't the right one. Now Liu Bei attacked and seized the lands of Liu Zhang, using strength to serve his entreprise and turning his back on the faith and trust of others and violating virtue and righteousness in his process. Although by this choice, he prospered. He should have greatly grieved for his defeated enemies. Like breaking a hand to preserve a body, what joy there is to find? Pang Tong feared this conversation would be leaked and that his lord would see he was in the wrong so in front of everyone corrected his error and did not act his usual modest way being rectifying his lord's mistake while being truthful and loyal. A superior who can correct his mistakes will have followers while achieving success. With many followers, one may be able to achieve great entreprise. If he follows reason, he will have his goal realized. With one speech, three goods were illuminated while with one remonstrance hundred of generations followed righteousness, this can be used as an example. If one tries to change his faults while he doesn't focus his attention on his qualities, understand his faults, will itself be honest and loyal, those would be able to complete great entreprise and achieve their affairs, there has never been such before.”
Pei Songzhi added :
“Although the plan to attack Liu Zhang came from Pang Tong, it violated righteousness to accomplish the desired goal and so was at his root deceptive knowing this Pang Tong felt guilty and restrained himself from happy feelings. Hence when he heard Liu Bei speak about being merry he acted unconsciously frank and answered as such. Liu Bei at this feast drank too much and was happy at another's misfortune comparing himself to King Wu of Zhou without any shame. This was Liu Bei being at fault while Pang Tong wasn't. His statement that both of them were in the wrong was to avoid conflict. In this discussion though Master Xi Zuochi's purpose isn't wrong, the implication of those words have digressed.”
Pang Tong later participated in a battle against Liu Zhang's forces at Luo County (雒縣; north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan). He died after being hit by a stray arrow in the midst of battle. 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 Tong was mentioned. Pang Tong was posthumously made a Secondary Marquis (關內侯) after Liu Bei became emperor and established the state of Shu Han in 221. In October or November 260, Liu Bei's son and successor, Liu Shan, honoured Pang Tong with the posthumous title "Marquis Jing" (靖侯).
Liu Bei had a shrine and tomb constructed for Pang Tong near Luo County. The shrine and tomb is located in present-day Baimaguan Town (白馬關鎮), Luojiang County, Sichuan. On 25 May 2006, it became a Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at the National Level.
Pang Tong had a younger brother, Pang Lin (龐林), who served as an Assistant Officer in Jing Province's Headquarters Office (荊州治中從事). He participated in the Battle of Xiaoting in 221–222 alongside the general Huang Quan and was in charge of defending the northern flank from possible attacks by Shu's rival state, Wei. After Liu Bei lost to Sun Quan's general Lu Xun at the Battle of Xiaoting, Pang Lin and Huang Quan were separated from Liu Bei's remaining forces and could not return to Shu, so they brought along their troops and surrendered to Wei. Pang Lin served as the Administrator (太守) of Julu Commandery (鉅鹿郡) in Wei and received a marquis title.
Pang Tong had a son, Pang Hong (龐宏), whose courtesy name was Jushi (巨師). Pang Hong, who served in the Shu government, was known for being frugal, upright and outspoken. He offended Chen Di (陳袛), the Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令). Chen Di found fault with Pang Hong and blocked him from getting promoted. He died in office while serving as the Administrator (太守) of Fuling Commandery (涪陵郡).
Chen Shou, who wrote Pang Tong's biography in the Sanguozhi, appraised Pang as follows: "Pang Tong was charming and was good associating with others, he diligently studied the classics and pondered many strategies for his lord. During his time, people from Jing and Yi provinces thought he was an exceptional talent. In comparison with officials from (Cao) Wei, if Pang Tong was akin to Xun Yu and Xun You then Fa Zheng should be comparable to Cheng (Yu) and Guo (Jia).
Pang Tong appears as a character in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, Pang Tong is portrayed as a brilliant military strategist who equals Zhuge Liang. Sima Hui recommends Pang Tong and Zhuge Liang as talents to aid Liu Bei by saying, "Hidden Dragon and Young Phoenix. If you can get either of them, you'll be able to pacify the empire."
In Chapter 47, before the Battle of Red Cliffs, Jiang Gan recommends Pang Tong to Cao Cao. Pang Tong presents a "chain links strategy" (連環計) to Cao. The plan involves linking Cao Cao's battleships together with strong iron chains 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 leads to Cao Cao's defeat as his battleships are unable to separate from each other during the fire attack, and when one ship is set aflame, the other ships linked to it catch fire as well.
Pang Tong's death during the war between Liu Bei and Liu Zhang is highly dramatised in Chapter 63. At the outset of the battle at Luo County, before Liu Bei and Pang Tong split forces for a two-pronged attack, Pang Tong's horse rears and throws him off its back. This is seen as a bad omen. Liu Bei then let Pang Tong borrow his famous steed, Dilu (的盧). However, Dilu is believed to bring bad luck to its rider despite having saved Liu Bei's life earlier. Liu Zhang's general Zhang Ren, who plans an ambush near Luo County, recognises Dilu and mistakes its rider to be Liu Bei, so he orders his archers to fire at the rider. Pang Tong is hit by several arrows which pierce through his body and he dies on the spot. His place of death is called "Valley of the Fallen Phoenix".
In Koihime Musou, Pang Tong appears as a shy and reserved young girl called Hinari Shigen Houtou. First appearing in episode 10 of Shin Koihime Musou, Hinari lives with Zhuge Liang / Shuri Koumei Shokatsuryou teacher.