“O so vast, O so mighty,
The Great River rolls to sea,
Flowers do waves thrash,
Heroes do sands smash,
When all the dreams drain,
Same are loss and gain.”So opens and closes the most famous of China’s great novels, called Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Of all the heroes in the novel, the most studied, imitated, and admired is Zhuge Liang (AD 181-234), a strategist and adviser, and the most well-known of China’s ancient prime ministers. He is honored as China’s version of Napoleon and Socrates, rolled into one.
Zhuge Liang studied under the tutelage of a famous scholar-hermit, Sima Hui. He showed enormous promise, and was granted the moniker “Master Sleeping Dragon” by which he became widely known in later years.China at that time was in the midst of the disintegration of the once powerful Han Dynasty, and Zhuge wanted to assist a wise lord to re-establish and reinvigorate the empire.
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