|Tutor of the Prince of Lu (魯王傅)|
242 – ?
|Supervisor of the Masters of Writing|
234 – 242
|Central Upholder of the Law (中執法)|
? – ?
|Palace Attendant (侍中)|
? – ?
? – ?
220 – ?
|Colonel of Loyalty and Righteousness|
219 – 220
|Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉)|
c. 200s – 219
Changle County, Shandong
|Courtesy name||Ziyu (子羽)|
|Original name||Shi Yi (氏儀)|
|Peerage||Marquis of a Chief District|
Life under the Eastern Han dynasty
Shi Yi was from Yingling County (營陵縣), Beihai State (北海國), Qing Province, which is located southeast of present-day Changle County, Shandong. He was born sometime in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He started his career in the 190s as an assistant official in the county office before progressing to serve in the commandery office under Kong Rong, who was then the Chancellor of Beihai State. Shi Yi's original family name was Shi (氏). When Kong Rong heard about it, he made fun of Shi Yi's family name, saying that the character shi (氏) had one stroke less than the character min (民), and suggested that Shi Yi change his family name to the similar sounding Shi (是) instead. Shi Yi heeded Kong Rong's suggestion. The Eastern Jin dynasty historian Xu Zhong (徐眾) criticised both of them for Shi Yi's changing of his family name and said that it was disrespectful to their ancestors.
Around the mid-190s, when chaos broke out in Qing Province, and travelled south to the Jiangdong region, where he took shelter under Liu Yao, the Governor of Yang Province. After Liu Yao was defeated by the warlord Sun Ce in 195, Shi Yi left him and settled down in Kuaiji Commandery (around present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang). In the year 200, after Sun Ce's death, his younger brother Sun Quan succeeded him and became the new warlord ruling over the Jiangdong territories. Around this time, Sun Quan sent Shi Yi an elegantly written letter, asking Shi Yi to join him. Shi Yi agreed and became a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) under Sun Quan. As Sun Quan highly trusted Shi Yi, he made Shi Yi privy to classified information.
In 219, when Sun Quan's general Lü Meng proposed a plan to defeat a rival general Guan Yu and seize control of southern Jing Province, Sun Quan sought Shi Yi's opinion on Lü Meng's plan. Shi Yi agreed with Lü Meng's plan and advised Sun Quan to adopt it. Sun Quan then commissioned Shi Yi as a Colonel of Loyalty and Righteousness (忠義校尉) and ordered him to accompany Lü Meng on the campaign. When Shi Yi thanked Sun Quan for his trust in him, the latter said, "I may not be a Viscount Jian of Zhao, but does that mean you can't be a Zhou She?"[a]
Life in Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period
After the successful conquest of southern Jing Province, Sun Quan relocated the capital of his territories to Wuchang (武昌; present-day Ezhou, Hubei), which was in southern Jing Province. In the same year, Sun Quan pledged nominal allegiance to Cao Pi, the emperor of the Cao Wei state, which had replaced the Eastern Han dynasty. In return, Cao Pi made Sun Quan a vassal king under the title "King of (Eastern) Wu" (吳王). Sun Quan then promoted Shi Yi to Major-General (裨將軍), appointed him as a Palace Attendant (侍中), and enfeoffed him as a Marquis of a Chief Village (都亭侯). Later, when Sun Quan wanted to put Shi Yi in command of more troops, Shi Yi firmly declined as he knew that he was not suitable to be a military commander.
In 222, Sun Quan broke ties with Cao Pi and declared independence in his Eastern Wu kingdom. Sometime between 222 and 229, he sent Shi Yi to Wan County (皖縣; present-day Qianshan County, Anhui) to join the general Liu Shao (劉邵). In one battle, Wu forces led by Liu Shao and Shi Yi lured the Wei general Cao Xiu and his troops into a trap and defeated them.[b] After the battle, Sun Quan promoted Shi Yi to Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) and recalled him to Wuchang to serve in the imperial secretariat, one of the key organs of the central government. Later, he put Shi Yi in charge of his sons' education.
In 229, Sun Quan declared himself emperor of the Eastern Wu state. In October that year, he moved the imperial capital from Wuchang (武昌; present-day Ezhou, Hubei) to Jianye (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu) and left the crown prince Sun Deng in charge of Wuchang. Shi Yi remained in Wuchang as an adviser to Sun Deng, who highly respected him and frequently consulted him on policy matters. He was also elevated from the status of a village marquis to a Marquis of a Chief District (都鄉侯). Later, he accompanied Sun Deng when Sun Quan summoned them to Jianye, where Shi Yi was appointed as a Palace Attendant (侍中) and Central Upholder of the Law (中執法). Shi Yi served in the imperial secretariat and performed duties similar to those when he was in Wuchang before 229.
Sometime in the 230s, Lü Yi, the supervisor of the audit bureau, falsely accused Diao Jia (刁嘉), the Administrator of Jiangxia Commandery (江夏郡; around present-day Wuhan, Hubei), of defaming the imperial court. Sun Quan was so furious when he heard about it that he had Diao Jia arrested and imprisoned. During the interrogation, when Diao Jia's colleagues were asked whether they heard him defame the imperial court, they all said they did, because they feared retaliation from Lü Yi if they said no. Shi Yi, however, insisted that he did not hear Diao Jia say anything defamatory. As the investigation dragged on for days, the tone of the imperial edicts issued by Sun Quan on this issue became increasingly harsh and stern, to the point where Shi Yi's colleagues feared for his life. Shi Yi remained unfazed and told Sun Quan, "The sword's blade is now on my neck. Why would I dare to conceal the truth, seek my own death, and end up becoming a disloyal ghost? I only hope that everyone will see the truth." When he was questioned, he answered truthfully and gave consistent responses. Sun Quan eventually believed Shi Yi and spared Diao Jia. The Eastern Jin dynasty historian Xu Zhong (徐眾) praised Shi Yi for maintaining his integrity, standing by his moral principles, and showing moral courage in such a life-threatening situation.
In 234, Zhuge Liang, the Imperial Chancellor of Eastern Wu's ally state Shu Han, died of illness during the Battle of Wuzhang Plains against their rival state Cao Wei. In the same year, Sun Quan sent Shi Yi as an emissary to Shu to extend his condolences and reaffirm the Wu–Shu alliance against Wei. Shi Yi performed well on his diplomatic mission. After he returned to Wu, Sun Quan appointed him as Supervisor of the Masters of Writing (尚書僕射).
In 242, Sun Quan designated his third and eldest surviving son, Sun He, as the new crown prince to replace Sun Deng, who died in the previous year. In the same year, he also enfeoffed his fourth son, Sun Ba, as the Prince of Lu. At the time, Shi Yi served as a tutor (傅) to Sun Ba. When he saw that Sun Ba received equal treatment as Sun He, he felt that it was highly inappropriate because according to Confucian rules of propriety, Sun He, as the Crown Prince, should be accorded greater honours and privileges as compared to Sun Ba. He wrote memorials to Sun Quan on a number of occasions, recommending the emperor to let Sun Ba assume greater responsibilities and groom him to become an important pillar of the state.[c] As Sun Ba's tutor, he gave proper advice to the prince and performed his role in a professional manner. At the same time, he also carried out his other duties diligently and treated everyone respectfully.
As Shi Yi became critically ill towards the end of his life, he said that he wanted to have a very simple funeral, to be buried in a coffin of simple design, and to be dressed in the clothes he normally wore. He died in an unknown year at the age of 81 (by East Asian age reckoning).
Shi Yi was known for leading a frugal and humble lifestyle. Unlike many other officials, he did not accumulate wealth for his family and never accepted financial aid from others. He was content with having only basic necessities. Sun Quan once went on a tour of Shi Yi's neighbourhood and saw a large mansion. When he asked who the owner of the mansion was, someone told him it was Shi Yi. However, Sun Quan said that it was definitely not Shi Yi, given his lifestyle. He was proven right. Shi Yi wore very simple clothing and had simple meals every day. He also enjoyed helping the needy so he often donated or gave away his personal savings to the poor. When Sun Quan heard about it, he visited Shi Yi's house and sampled the meals Shi Yi had every day. After the visit, he increased Shi Yi's salary, gave him more rewards and a larger plot of land. However, Shi Yi rejected these rewards and gifts and said that he would feel uneasy if he accepted them.
Throughout his service in the Wu government, Shi Yi had never made any mistake before. When Lü Yi, the supervisor of the audit bureau, was looking for flaws in officials' work so that he could maliciously make a case and accuse them of something, he could find at least four problems with the work of every official he accused.[d] However, when it came to Shi Yi's work, he could not find a single flaw. Sun Quan also once sighed, "If everyone were like Shi Yi, would there still be a need for laws, rules and regulations?"
Whenever Shi Yi recommended talents to Sun Quan, he only pointed out their strengths and said nothing about their weaknesses. Sun Quan thus chided him for not saying anything about their weaknesses and not making judgments about them. In response, Shi Yi said, "Your Majesty, as your subject, my duty is to perform my role well. I am always worried about not being competent in my role. (I keep my opinions about their weaknesses to myself because) I don't want to let my ignorance and limited knowledge affect Your Majesty's judgment about them."
Chen Shou, the historian who wrote Shi Yi's biography, among others, in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, appraised Shi Yi as follows: "Shi Yi was one of the highly capable and competent officials serving under Sun Quan. He was also known for his virtuous and upright moral character."
- Viscount Jian of Zhao (趙簡子) was a patriarch of the Zhao clan in the Jin state during the Spring and Autumn period. His descendants later became the rulers of the Zhao state in the Warring States period. Zhou She (周舍) was an official serving under the Viscount. He was known for being very outspoken and frank.
- This battle might be the Battle of Shiting in 228.
- Shi Yi wanted to see Sun Ba become "an important pillar of the state", i.e., an important subject of the emperor, rather than a contender to the throne. However, the situation ultimately did not turn out as he hoped because Sun Ba and Sun He engaged in a power struggle over the succession to their father's throne. See here for more details on the power struggle.
- See Lü Yi's article for more details on his abuses of power.
- (是儀字子羽，北海營陵人也。本姓氏，初為縣吏，後仕郡，郡相孔融嘲儀，言「氏」字「民」無上，可改為「是」，乃遂改焉。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (徐衆評曰：古之建姓，或以所生，或以官號，或以祖名，皆有義體，以明氏族。故曰胙之以土而命之氏，此先王之典也，所以明本重始，彰示功德，子孫不忘也。今離文析字，橫生忌諱，使儀易姓，忘本誣祖，不亦謬哉！教人易姓，從人改族，融旣失之，儀又不得也。) Xu Zhong's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (後依劉繇，避亂江東。繇軍敗，儀徙會稽。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 63.
- (孫權承攝大業，優文徵儀。到見親任，專典機密，拜騎都尉。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 68.
- (呂蒙圖襲關羽，權以問儀，儀善其計，勸權聽之。從討羽，拜忠義校尉。儀陳謝，權令曰：「孤雖非趙簡子，卿安得不自屈為周舍邪？」) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 69.
- (旣定荊���，都武昌，拜裨將軍，後封都亭侯，守侍中。欲復授兵，儀自以非材，固辭不受。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (黃武中，遣儀之皖就將軍劉邵，欲誘致曹休。休到，大破之，遷偏將軍，入闕省尚書事，外緫平諸官，兼領辭訟，又令教諸公子書學。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 71.
- ([黃龍元年]秋九月，權遷都建業， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 47.
- (大駕東遷，太���登留鎮武昌，使儀輔太子。太子敬之，事先諮詢，然後施行。進封都鄉侯。後從太子還建業，復拜侍中、中執法，平諸官事、領辭訟如舊。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (典校郎呂壹誣白故江夏太守刁嘉謗訕國政，權怒，收嘉繫獄，悉驗問。時同坐人皆怖畏壹，並言聞之，儀獨云無聞。於是見窮詰累日，詔旨轉厲，羣臣為之屏息。儀對曰：「今刀鋸已在臣頸，臣何敢為嘉隱諱，自取夷滅，為不忠之鬼！顧以聞知當有本末。」據實荅問，辭不傾移。權遂舍之，嘉亦得免。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (徐衆評曰：是儀以羈旅異方，客仕吳朝，值讒邪殄行，當嚴毅之威，命縣漏刻，���急危機，不雷同以害人，不苟免以傷義，可謂忠勇公正之士，雖祁奚之免叔向，慶忌之濟朱雲，何以尚之？忠不諂君，勇不懾聳，公不存私，正不黨邪，資此���德，加之以文敏，崇之以謙約，履之以和順，保傅二宮，存身愛名，不亦宜乎！) Xu Zhong's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 72.
- (蜀相諸葛亮卒，權垂心西州，遣儀使蜀申固盟好。奉使稱意，後拜尚書僕射。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Zizhi Tongjian vol. 74.
- (南、魯二宮初立，儀以本職領魯王傅。儀嫌二宮相近切，乃上疏曰：「臣竊以魯王天挺懿德，兼資文武，當今之宜，宜鎮四方，為國藩輔。宣揚德美，廣耀威靈，乃國家之良規，海內所瞻望，。但臣言辭鄙野，不能究盡其意。愚以二宮宜有降殺，正上下之序，明教化之本。」書三四上。為傅盡忠，動輒規諫；事上勤，與人恭。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (及寢疾，遺令素棺，斂以時服，務從省約，年八十一卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (不治產業，不受施惠，為屋舍財足自容。鄰家有起大宅者，權���望見，問起大室者誰，左右對曰：「似是儀家也。」權曰：「儀儉，必非也。」問果他家。其見知信如此。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (服不精細，食不重膳，拯贍貧困，家無儲畜。權聞之，幸儀舍，求視蔬飯，親甞之，對之歎息，即增俸賜，益田宅。儀累辭讓，以恩為戚。) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (事國數十年，未甞有過。呂壹歷白將相大臣，或一人以罪聞者數四，獨無以白儀。權歎曰：「使人盡如是儀，當安用科法為？」) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (時時有所進達，未甞���人之短。權常責儀以不言事，無所是非，儀對曰：「聖主在上，臣下守職，懼於不稱，實不敢以愚管之言，上干天聽。」) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- (評曰：是儀、徐詳、胡綜，皆孫權之時幹興事業者也。儀清恪貞素， ...) Sanguozhi vol. 62.
- Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
- de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. p. 741. ISBN 9789004156050.
- Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
- Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian.