Cao Cao

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Cáo Cāo (曹操; 155 – 220 March 15) was a Chinese military leader, a regional warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during its final years in ancient China. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the Kingdom of Wei (also known as Cáo Wèi) and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei (魏武帝)


  • 「寧我負人,毋人負我!」
    • Translation: "I'd rather betray others, than have others betray me."
    • Statement in 190, after falsely killing Lü Boshe. Source: Sun Sheng Zaji, page 5 of Sanguo Zhi.
  • 「吾任天下之智力,以道御之,無所不可.」
    • "I would employ the wise and strong of the empire, using righteousness to lead them. In this way, nothing is impossible."
    • Statement by Cao Cao around 191 during a discussion with Yuan Shao. The two compare their long term strategies, with Cao giving an abstract approach. The conversation is generaly considered to be fictional, and recorded only for allegorical effect. Source: Sanguo Zhi, page 26.
  • 「彼各為其主,勿追也。」
    • Translation: "Each man is for his lord, do not give chase."
    • Statement to his retainers in 200, referring to the recently left Guan Yu. Source: page 940 of Sanguo Zhi.


  • 「寧教我負天下人,休教天下人負我」
    • Translation: "I'd rather betray the people of the empire, but never allow the people of the empire to betray me."
    • Statement to Chen Gong after falsely killing Lü Boshe and his household. Source: Romance of the Three Kingdoms. An adaptation of the Sanguo Zhi original.