An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Yue Yang 樂羊

Mar 9, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Yue Yang 樂羊, also written 樂陽, was a general of the state of Wei 魏 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). He was appointed commander by recommendation of Di Huang 翟璜. In 408, Yue Yang crossed the territory of Zhao 趙 in order to attack the state of Zhongshan 中山. For his victory over this opponent after three years of heavy fighting, he was rewarded with the territory of Lingshou 靈壽 (today's Pingshan 平山 or Lingshou, Hebei).

There is a story that during the siege of Gu 顧 (Dingxian 定縣, Hebei), the capital of Zhongshan, the lord of Zhongshan had Yue's son, who dwelt in Zhongshan as a hostage, cooked and offered Yue Yang a cup of his human soup. Yue Yang tasted it in order to demonstrate his determination to bring down Zhongshan. Hearing of this fact, Marquis Wen of Wei 魏文侯 (r. 424-387) therefore doubted Yue's human qualities but nonetheless rewarded his qualities as a general. A similar story is told of Xiang Yu 項羽, who threatened Liu Bang 劉邦, the founder of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE), to cook a brood of his father whom he had captured.

Yue Yang's descendants also served as military leaders. The most important of them was general Yue Yi 樂毅, who was a general of the state of Yan 燕.

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