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Pang Tong

Pang Tong
A Qing dynasty illustration of Pang Tong
Military Adviser General of the Household
(under Liu Bei)
In office
c. 209 (c. 209) – 214 (214)
Serving with Zhuge Liang
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Assistant Officer in the Headquarters Office
(under Liu Bei)
In office
? (?) – ? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Assistant Officer (從事)
(under Sun Quan)
In office
? (?) – 209 (209)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Prefect of Leiyang (耒陽令)
(under Sun Quan)
In office
? (?) – 209 (209)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Xiangyang, Hubei
Died214 (aged 35)[a]
Guanghan, Sichuan
Resting placePang Tong Shrine and Tomb
ChildrenPang Hong
  • Pang Lin (brother)
  • Pang Degong (uncle)
OccupationOfficial, adviser
Courtesy nameShiyuan (士元)
Posthumous nameMarquis Jing (靖侯)
Nickname"Fledgling Phoenix"

Pang Tong (About this soundpronunciation ) (179–214), courtesy name Shiyuan, was an adviser to the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. Originally a minor official in Nan Commandery in Jing Province, Pang Tong came to serve Liu Bei in 209 after the latter became 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 during a battle at Luo County (north of present-day Guanghan, Sichuan) in 214.[1]

Early life

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.[2] Pang Tong was nicknamed "Fledgling Phoenix" (鳳雛; also translated as "Young Phoenix") by his uncle Pang Degong (龐德公).[3]

Pang Tong later served as an Officer of Merit (功曹) in Nan Commandery (南郡; around present-day Jiangling County, Hubei). He was 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. Good people are overwhelmed by the evil. I desire to change social norms by encouraging good people and giving them a better (exaggerated) reputation, so they can serve as role models for others."[4]

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; they were very pleased with his comments.[5]

Serving Liu Bei in Jing Province

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 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 Adviser Generals of the Household (軍師中郎將).[6]

Assisting Liu Bei in the conquest of Yi Province

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. Liu Bei heeded Pang Tong's suggestion.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

Pang Tong outlined three plans for Liu Bei to choose from:

  • The upper plan: Select the best soldiers to form an elite force and advance quickly towards Chengdu, and force Liu Zhang to surrender and hand over Yi Province. Pang Tong also believed that Liu Zhang was not competent in military affairs and was unprepared, so the chances of success were high.
  • The middle plan: Spread false news that Liu Bei was returning to Jing Province, then lure Liu Zhang's officers Yang Huai (楊懷) and Gao Pei (高沛) away from the fortified mountain passes they were defending, kill them and take control of their positions and troops, and finally advance towards Chengdu.
  • The lower plan: Retreat to Baidicheng and wait for another opportunity to attack.

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.[10]

When Liu Bei expressed joy during a banquet in Fu County to celebrate his success, 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, 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.[11]


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.[12] In October or November 260, Liu Bei's son and successor, Liu Shan, honoured Pang Tong with the posthumous title "Marquis Jing" (靖侯).[13]

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.[14]

Family and descendants

After Pang Tong's death, Liu Bei appointed Pang's father – whose name was not recorded in history – as a Consultant (議郎) and later promoted him to a Counsellor Remonstrant (諫議大夫).[15]

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.[16]

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).[17]

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms

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."[18]

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.[19]

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".[20]

In popular culture

Pang Tong is featured as a playable character in Koei's Dynasty Warriors, Warriors Orochi and Dynasty Tactics video game series.

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.

See also


  1. ^ a b Pang Tong's biography in the Sanguozhi recorded that he died at the age of 36 (by East Asian age reckoning) in 214. By calculation, his year of birth should be around 179.


  1. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 689.
  2. ^ (...襄陽人也。少時樸鈍,未有識者。潁川司馬徽清雅有知人鑒,統弱冠往見徽,徽採桑於樹上,坐統在樹下,共語自晝至夜。徽甚異之,稱統當為南州士之冠冕,由是漸顯。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  3. ^ (襄陽記曰:諸葛孔明為卧龍,龐士元為鳳雛,司馬德操為水鏡,皆龐德公語也。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  4. ^ (後郡命為功曹。性好人倫,勤於長養。每所稱述,多過其才,時人怪而問之,統荅曰:「當今天下大亂,雅道陵遲,善人少而惡人多。方欲興風俗,長道業,不美其譚即聲名不足慕企,不足慕企而為善者少矣。今拔十失五,猶得其半,而可以崇邁世教,使有志者自勵,不亦可乎?」) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  5. ^ (吳將周瑜助先主取荊州,因領南郡太守。瑜卒,統送喪至吳,吳人多聞其名。及當西還,並會昌門,陸績、顧劭、全琮皆往。統曰:「陸子可謂駑馬有逸足之力,顧子可謂駑牛能負重致遠也。」謂全琮曰:「卿好施慕名,有似汝南樊子昭。雖智力不多,亦一時之佳也。」績、劭謂統曰:「使天下太平,當與卿共料四海之士。」深與統相結而還。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  6. ^ (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.
  7. ^ (九州春秋曰:統說備曰:「荊州荒殘,人物殫盡,東有吳孫,北有曹氏,鼎足之計,難以得志。今益州國富民彊,戶口百萬,四部兵馬,所出必具,寶貨無求於外,今可權借以定大事。」備曰:「今指與吾為水火者,曹操也,操以急,吾以寬;操以暴,吾以仁;操以譎,吾以忠;每與操反,事乃可成耳。今以小故而失信義於天下者,吾所不取也。」統曰:「權變之時,固非一道所能定也。兼弱攻昧,五伯之事。逆取順守,報之以義,事定之後,封以大國,何負於信?今日不取,終為人利耳。」備遂行。) Jiuzhou Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  8. ^ (亮留鎮荊州。統隨從入蜀。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  9. ^ (益州牧劉璋與先主會涪,統進策曰:「今因此會,便可執之,則將軍無用兵之勞,而坐定一州也。」先主曰:「初入他國,恩信未著,此不可也。」璋旣還成都,先主當為璋北征漢中,...) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  10. ^ (...統復說曰:「陰選精兵,晝夜兼道,徑襲成都;璋旣不武,又素無預備,大軍卒至,一舉便定,此上計也。楊懷、高沛,璋之名將,各杖彊兵,據守關頭,聞數有牋諫璋,使發遣將軍還荊州。將軍未至,遣與相聞,說荊州有急,欲還救之,並使裝束,外作歸形;此二子旣服將軍英名,又喜將軍之去,計必乘輕騎來見,將軍因此執之,進取其兵,乃向成都,此中計也。退還白帝,連引荊州,徐還圖之,此下計也。若沈吟不去,將致大困,不可乆矣。」先主然其中計,即斬懷、沛,還向成都,所過輒克。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  11. ^ (於涪大會,置酒作樂,謂統曰:「今日之會,可謂樂矣。」統曰:「伐人之國而以為歡,非仁者之兵也。」先主醉,怒曰:「武王伐紂,前歌後舞,非仁者邪?卿言不當,宜速起出!」於是統逡巡引退。先主尋悔,請還。統復故位,初不顧謝,飲食自若。先主謂曰:「向者之論,阿誰為失?」統對曰:「君臣俱失。」先主大笑,宴樂如初。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  12. ^ (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.
  13. ^ ([景耀]三年秋九月,追謚故將軍關羽、張飛、馬超、龐統、黃忠。) Sanguozhi vol. 33.
  14. ^ 昭化古城001 [Zhaohua Gucheng 001] (4 June 2014). "庞统祠墓 [Pang Tong Shrine and Tomb]". (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 1 January 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  15. ^ (拜統父議郎,遷諫議大夫,諸葛亮親為之拜。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  16. ^ (統弟林,以荊州治中從事參鎮北將軍黃權征吳,值軍敗,隨權入魏,魏封列侯,至鉅鹿太守。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  17. ^ (統子宏,字巨師,剛簡有臧否,輕傲尚書令陳袛,為袛所抑,卒於涪陵太守。) Sanguozhi vol. 37.
  18. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 35.
  19. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 47-50.
  20. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 63.

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