Tsao Tsao

Ts’ao Ts’ao


(second name, Meng-te; also known as the Wei Wu-ti). Born 155; died 220. Chinese poet, general, and statesman. Father of Ts’ao P’ei and Ts’ao Chih.

As minister to Hsien Ti (reigned A.D. 189–220), the last emperor of the Han dynasty, Ts’ao Ts’ao concentrated all power in his own hands and became dictator. He spent his entire life waging wars. He suppressed the Rebellion of the Yellow Turbans and for several years warred against his rivals, the generals Liui Pu, Yuan Shao, and Chang Hsiuo, all of whom he defeated. His troops included warriors from nomadic tribes, the Wuhuan and Ti. Ts’ao Ts’ao founded the Wei dynasty, which from 220 to 265 ruled over northern and central China, and proclaimed his son Ts’ao P’ei emperor.

Most of Ts’ao Ts’ao’s poems imitate the folk yüeh-fu, the themes of which are varied freely. They describe arduous military campaigns, the calamitous events of contemporary history, and the fleeting nature of human existence; at the same time they glorify the new dynasty. Ts’ao Ts’ao also wrote works on the military art. Chinese literature and folklore depict Ts’ao Ts’ao as a shrewd and cruel ruler.


In Russian translation:
In Anlologiia kitaiskoi poezii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1957.


Cherkasskii, L. E. “Tsao Tsao—poet-polkovodets.” In his Poeziia Tsao Chzhi. Moscow, 1963.
Ts’ao Ts’ao lun chi. Peking, 1960.