|King of Wei|
|Died||15 March 220 (aged 65)|
|Style name||Mengde (Chinese: 孟德; pinyin:Mèngdé; Wade–Giles: Meng-te)|
|Temple name||Taizu (Chinese: 太祖; pinyin:Tàizǔ; Wade–Giles: Tai-tsu)|
Cao Cao (rōmaji: Sō Sō) was the Chancellor of the Han Dynasty who laid the foundations for the future kingdom of Wei. A clean-cut, tall, and crafty individual, Cao Cao excelled in war and politics. He was loved and feared for his perceptiveness and swift retaliations. Chen Shou commented that he was a leader who possessed a unique mindset and was a timeless hero. Romance of the Three Kingdoms famously villainies him to be a hot-blooded, sly, yet occasionally dumbfounded schemer who sometimes survived his hardships on luck alone. His legitimate successor is Cao Pi. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, and Cao Hong are his well-known cousins.
His Dynasty Warriors incarnation is 36 years old and his height is 174 cm (5'8 1/2"). He ranked in seventeenth place in Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll and is twenty-sixth in the Shin Sangoku Musou 7: Moushouden popularity poll. In Famitsu's character survey, he is the number one character fans would want as their boss.
His height in Kessen II is 180 cm (close to 5'11").
- "Well fought, you who would be Emperor."
- ―Nu Wa; Warriors Orochi 2
Cao Cao is a leader who dedicates himself to his ambitions. A childhood friend of Yuan Shao, he joins him at the Yellow Turban Rebellion and in the Allied Forces. After Dong Zhuo's death, however, Cao Cao disagrees with Yuan Shao and they face one another at Guan Du. Cao Cao wins the conflict and gains Yuan Shao's territory soon after. A few titles also state his army capturing Guan Yu and having the general momentarily serve within his army during this time. Cao Cao often desires to have the brave general to serve him, but he respects Guan Yu's wishes to depart from Xu Chang.
As the largest force of power in the land, he then targets Liu Bei and chases him at Chang Ban. His naval fleet suffers defeat at Chi Bi, and Cao Cao's army is crippled from the loss. Even so, Cao Cao is able to rebound from the loss and orders Ma Teng's execution. His order sparks Ma Chao's rebellion and he gathers the regional lords around Quan Zhong to be his allies. In most titles, Cao Cao has the opportunity to speak to Han Sui, and the latter's defection at Tong Gate turns the tides against Ma Chao. With Tong Gate under his control, Cao Cao may participate in Wei's battles at He Fei or Mt. Ding Jun. In most titles, he lives to end either Shu or Wu. In recent scenarios, he may pass away due to illness after the events of Fan Castle.
His Legend Mode in Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends details his escape from Chi Bi. With the army already faltering from the Allied Force's fire attack, Cao Cao runs for his life to escape Shu's generals. Cutting his way past Liu Bei and Sun Quan's generals, he faces Guan Yu guarding the exit. Mentioning the kindness he previously treated the general, Guan Yu turns his back on his duty and repays the debt that he owes Cao Cao.
Described as a scholar during peace and a villain during chaos, Cao Cao is a talented leader in Dynasty Warriors 5. Knowing that a better land lies beyond the chaos, he joins the efforts to defeat the early insurgents of the age. Zuo Ci magically appears near Cao Cao and repeatedly asks the warlord his vision for the land. Cao Cao does not grant him an answer, yet he is offended when the elderly sage compares him to the rogues he stands against. After assisting Liu Bei's request to slay Lu Bu at Xia Pi, he sets his sights on the nearest enemy to him. Knowing that Yuan Shao only believes in his family pride and neglects the good console of his advisors, Cao Cao believes his former friend to be threat to the land. For these reasons, he slays Yuan Shao at Guan Du.
He then attacks Liu Bei, but his forces lose horribly at Chi Bi. Narrowly escaping with their lives, he rebuilds his forces and, to avenge his humiliation from Chi Bi, he claims victory at He Fei. Wu withdraws and Liu Bei passes away. In honor of the only man who he deemed to be the land's hero, Cao Cao decides to conquer Shu at Wu Zhang Plains. Zuo Ci, impressed with Cao Cao's longevity, remarks that he will slay him for the good of the land. Cao Cao prevails in the conflict and Sun Quan dies at He Fei Castle. Though the land's wars are at an end, Cao Cao continues to fight in order to fashion a land worthy of his image.
He has two Legend Modes in the Xtreme Legends expansion. One he shares with Xiahou Dun, Dian Wei and Xu Chu. To further his ambitions, Cao Cao leads an expedition to rescue the emperor from remnants of Dong Zhuo's army. With the young highness escorted to safety, Cao Cao designates himself as the emperor's new protector. He shares his second Legend Mode with Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren and Zhang He as they band together against the Five Bushel sect. Cao Cao has two goals he wants met in this battle. On one hand, he thinks the sect's teachings are preposterous and doesn't want a sham religion to proclaim to help the people. He also wants Yang Ping Gate subjugated as it impedes their march against Liu Bei in Han Zhong.
Dynasty Warriors 6 has Cao Cao start as a member of the Allied Forces. Although he is interested to end Dong Zhuo, his primary goal in the battle is to judge the other regional lords. He is the only one present who sets his eyes on the future and designates himself the land's hero as a result. To secure his lands, Cao Cao puts aside his fond memories of Yuan Shao and claims victory at Guan Du. After winning victory against Liu Bei and Sun Quan at Chi Bi, the emperor congratulates his efforts and offers the throne to Cao Cao. The conqueror refuses, stating that he only wants to dedicate his efforts to creating the new future that he sees for the land. To do so, he is willing to sacrifice his body and soul for this vision. He then leads another march and claims Mt. Ding Jun from the newly appointed king of Han Zhong, Liu Bei. Although he knows that Liu Bei is weakened, he remains weary of the former's ability to gain the people's trust and leaves Han Zhong in charge of his son.
With his forces keeping an eye on Liu Bei, Cao Cao decides to deal with Wu to bring a quicker end to the land's strife. Cao Ren struggles at Shi Ting and Cao Cao decides to personally reinforce his relative. Wu eventually falls in the wars and all that remains is Liu Bei. Deeming his final foe a worthy opponent, he wins the battle, and the new land he envisions is created. He decides to leave the fate of the land to the people. Cao Pi presumably assumes position as the new emperor and his generals protect the land's peace. Left with no other ambitions, Cao Cao removes himself from the capital and declares that he now walks the path of the heavens.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Cao Cao begins his usual role of suppressing the Yellow Turbans Rebellion with his cousins. He desires to create a new world in which one's effort, not status, nourishes the land. Ignoring Yuan Shao's demands to eliminate the Ten Eunuchs as the Han Dynasty falls into decay, Cao Cao suspects Dong Zhuo to be the greater threat and is invited to Luoyang Castle. Using the opportunity to observe the tyrant for himself, Cao Cao refuses to help Dong Zhuo and stages a dramatic escape. He then joins Yuan Shao's coalition to rout Dong Zhuo. The lop-sided balance of power ends with the warlords disputing and Cao Cao low on men. Therefore, he decides to subjugate the remnant Yellow Turbans in Yan Province for himself, gaining Dian Wei and Xu Zhu in his command after compelling them with his resolve. Tao Qian aims to eliminate him at Xu Province, but Cao Cao's forces are too strong to topple.
His influence in the center is undeniable, which is instrumental for his right to house the emperor at Xuchang. Choosing to first deal with Zhang Xiu, he invades the area surrounding Wan Castle. Due to Jia Xu's plot to feign a harmless surrender, Cao Cao and company are unknowingly trapped in an ambush at the castle. Cao Cao barely escapes the attack at the unfortunate cost of Dian Wei's life. Reuniting with his forces outside the castle, they lead a counteroffensive to drive Zhang Xiu into submission. Cao Cao personally corners Jia Xu and, though Xiahou Dun protests, decides to spare the man responsible for Dian Wei's death. While he compliments his new strategist's talents, he grimly warns Jia Xu to never double cross him. Soon after, Cao Cao and Liu Bei deal with Lu Bu at Xia Pi.
After he orders Liu Bei to deal with Yuan Shu, Cao Cao learns the emperor had plotted an assassination for his life. He therefore confronts the emperor in person to learn the frightened man's intentions. Learning that the emperor is afraid of being killed by him, Cao Cao affirms his denial of the claim. A land without an emperor would cause the people to riot and render his ambitions meaningless. With the emperor left as his puppet to power, Cao Cao leads his army to conquer his former ally, Liu Bei, establishing Xu Province as his own. Uniting the north by defeating Yuan Shao, the common folk who fear Cao Cao follow Liu Bei's leadership. Demolishing Liu Bei's position in Jing Province, he orders that Liu Bei and the peasants be eliminated at Chang Ban. He reasons that they have made their choice against his vision and are not worth of mercy.
He continues to pursue Liu Bei south and his navy suffers a deafening defeat at Chi Bi. Although heavily surrounded, Cao Cao escapes to safety. He inwardly feels unease by the losses he experienced and his uncertainties leak through at times, despite his will to suppress them for his ambition. After driving back Ma Chao's army, he seeks to take Hanzhong as his own and orders the majority of his army westward. Upon Xiahou Yuan's death, however, Cao Cao makes the hard choice of avoiding revenge and orders the withdraw from Mt. Ding Jun. He does so in order to decimate Guan Yu's position in Jing Province, a man whose prowess stayed with Cao Cao as an impressive yet dangerous threat. With Guan Yu's death at Fan Castle, Cao Cao fortifies a strong future for Wei. Six months later, an ailing Cao Cao drops the pretense of living solely for his ambition. He speaks his honest thanks to Xiahou Dun, looks forward to reuniting with Dian Wei, and apologizes to Xiahou Yuan before he dies in bed.
Cao Cao's first Legendary Mode has him taking down Dong Zhuo before he can retreat to Xinyang. He fights through several officers blocking his path, including Lu Bu. In his second Legendary Mode, Cao Cao fights both Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao to protect the emperor.
In the eight installment, Cao Cao is first seen after his failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Despite this setback, he manages to escape from Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo's generals with help from his cousins, Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan, along with a mysterious dancer. He soon joins Yuan Shao's coalition, and Xiahou Dun, brings forth Li Dian and Yue Jin to help Cao Cao in the battle. Together, victory over Dong Zhuo is achieved, but Cao Cao leaves the alliance in search of more opportunities and talented men. He soon decides to pacify the remnants of the Yellow Turbans, but ends up recruiting a new general in the process. He later uses his new generals, and with their aid successfully take the emperor's carriage, and provide him shelter. Though the emperor is doubtful of Cao Cao, the former decides to place his trust on his protector and allows him to unify the land under his name.
With this Cao Cao soon attacks and defeats Zhang Xiu, and the latter surrenders and treats Cao Cao to a banquet. He later betrays his new lord however, and soon Cao Cao is trapped at Wancheng with enemies everywhere. At the cost of his eldest son, Cao Cao escapes and regroups with his nearby generals, and they counter attack and defeat the treacherous man. Though Cao Cao recruits Jia Xu, Dian Wei dies shortly after due to incurred wounds. Soon the strategist proves his worth, and Cao Cao is able to defeat Lu Bu. He sees however that Lu Bu's subordinate, Zhang Liao, is more fit to serve than his lord, and he executes Lu Bu, but spares Zhang Liao. Together with his generals, he then fights his former friend, Yuan Shao, and with a surrendering Guan Yu's help, they achieve victory and gain Zhang He and Zhenji. Shortly after Guan Yu leaves to rejoin Liu Bei, Cao Cao moves on to defeat the remaining members of Yuan Shao's family. Though he succeeds in defeating all three of Yuan Shao's sons, Guo Jia dies shortly after the battle due to illness.
Liu Bei then musters his forces and does battle with Cao Cao at Xinye and though Cao Cao captures Liu Bei's new aide, Xu Shu, the man's lord still escapes. He eventually pursues Liu Bei, but thanks to the wiles of his new strategist, Zhuge Liang, along with Liu Bei's other generals, the man still gets away. As Cao Cao moves south, he suffers a major defeat against both Sun Quan and Liu Bei at Chibi, and barely makes it out alive thanks to Guan Yu sparing Cao Cao on account of previous debts.
In this critical time, Ma Chao, son of Ma Teng, who was executed by Cao Cao, attacks and overruns Tong Gate shortly after Cao Cao's defeat forcing the latter to attack and reclaim it once again. Through this, both Wang Yi and Pang De are recruited to serve at Cao Cao's side and the two assist their new lord in following battles. Wang Yi is sent to newly-conquered Hanzhong to help defend the area alongside Xiahou Yuan and his subordinates against potential attacks on Shu. Soon enough Shu does attack, and the attack not only claims Hanzhong, but also the life of Xiahou Yuan. Meanwhile Zhang Liao scores a major victory against Wu at Hefei. Soon Guan Yu attacks Fancheng, guarded by both Cao Ren and Pang De, but to the risk of flooding thanks to heavy rain, Cao Cao still sends additional reinforcements, and convinces Wu to assist Wei. Everything soon goes as planned and Fan Castle is relieved while the attacking general, Guan Yu, is slain in battle. Cao Cao soon passes away off-screen shortly after this victory.
In the alternate path of Wei, many significant changes occur to the storyline. Dian Wei survives the attack on Wancheng, Guo Jia gets the necessary treatment after the subjugation of the Yuan Family, while Xu Shu decides to join Cao Cao. These events allow Cao Cao to overcome the odds at Chibi, and he is victorious in the struggle. Shortly after his victory, he still pushes through Wu until, he finally defeats and wipes out the Sun Family. However, while Cao Cao was pre-occupied by Sun Quan, Liu Bei took the opportunity to conquer the western side of the country, and the two battle it out for supremacy over the land. The struggles finally ends at Baidi Castle as Liu Bei and his allies are wiped out, and the war ends. Cao Cao soon retires peacefully allowing his generals to retire and live their lives peacefully.
In both Wu and Shu's alternate paths he stands as the final obstacle to end the war at Xu Chang.
Cao Cao (155 – 15 March 220), style name Mengde, was a warlord and the penultimate Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power in the final years of the dynasty. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously honoured as "Emperor Wu of Wei". Although he is often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, Cao Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family. He was also skilled in poetry and martial artsand wrote many war journals.
- 2 Alliance against Dong Zhuo
- 3 Securing the emperor
- 4 Uniting northern China
- 5 The Three Kingdoms
- 6 Family
- 7 Cultural legacy
- 8 Cao Cao Mausoleum
- 9 In fiction
- 10 Modern references
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Cao Cao was born in Qiao (present-day Bozhou, Anhui) in 155. His father Cao Song was a foster son of Cao Teng, who in turn was one of the favourite eunuchs of Emperor Huan. Some historical records, including the Biography of Cao Man, claim that Cao Song's original family name was Xiahou.
Cao was known for his craftiness as an adolescent. According to the Biography of Cao Man, Cao Cao's uncle complained to Cao Song about Cao Cao's indulgence in hunting and music with Yuan Shao. In retaliation, Cao Cao feigned a fit before his uncle, who immediately rushed to inform Cao Song. When Cao Song went to see his son, Cao Cao behaved normally. When asked, Cao Cao replied, "I have never had a fit, but I lost the love of my uncle, and therefore he deceived you." Afterwards, Cao Song ceased to believe his brother regarding Cao Cao, and thus Cao Cao became even more blatant and insistent in his wayward pursuits.
At that time, there was a man named Xu Shao who lived in Runan and was famous for his ability to evaluate a person's potentials and talents. Cao Cao paid him a visit in hopes of receiving an evaluation that would help him politically. At first, Xu Shao refused to make a statement; however, under persistent questioning, he finally said, "You would be a capable minister in peaceful times and an unscrupulous hero in chaotic times." Cao Cao laughed and left. There are two other versions of this comment in other unofficial historical records[which?]: "capable minister in peaceful times, unrighteous hero in chaotic times" and "sinister foe in peaceful times, great hero in chaotic times."
Statue of Cao Cao
At the age of 20, Cao Cao was appointed district captain of Luoyang. Upon taking up the post, he placed rows of multicolored stakes outside his office and ordered his deputies to flog those who violated the law, regardless of their status. An uncle of Jian Shuo, one of the most powerful and influential eunuchs under Emperor Ling, was caught walking in the city after the evening curfew by Cao Cao's men and was flogged. This prompted Jian Shuo and other higher authorities to ostensibly promote Cao Cao to the post of governor of Dunqiu County while actually moving him out of the imperial capital. Cao Cao remained in this position for little more than a year, being dismissed from office in 178 for his distant family ties with the disgraced Empress Song.Around 180, Cao Cao returned to court as a Consultant (議郎) and presented two memoranda against the eunuchs' influence in court and government corruption during his tenure, to limited effect.
When the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in 184, Cao Cao was recalled to Luoyang and appointed Captain of the Cavalry (騎都尉) and sent to Yingchuan in Yu Province to suppress the rebels. He was successful and was sent to Ji'nan (濟南) as Chancellor (相) to prevent the spread of Yellow Turban influence there. In Ji'nan, Cao Cao aggressively enforced the ban on unorthodox cults, destroyed shrines, and supported state Confucianism. He offended the local leading families in the process, and resigned on grounds of poor health around 187, fearing that he had put his family in danger. He was offered the post of Administrator of Dong Commandery (東郡), but he declined and returned to his home in Pei County. Around that time, Wang Fen (王芬) tried to recruit Cao Cao to join his coup to replace Emperor Ling with the Marquis of Hefei, but Cao Cao refused. The plot came to nothing, and Wang Fen killed himself.
Main article: Campaign against Dong Zhuo
|A summary of the major events in Cao Cao's life|
|155||Born in Qiao.|
|180s||Led troops againstYellow Turban Rebellion inYingchuan.|
|190||Joined the coalition against Dong Zhuo.|
|196||Received Emperor Xian in Xuchang.|
|200||Won the Battle of Guandu.|
|208||Lost the Battle of Red Cliffs.|
|213||Created Duke of Wei and given ten commanderies as his dukedom.|
|216||Received the title King of Wei.|
|220||Died in Luoyang.|
|—||Enthroned posthumously as Emperor Wu.|
After 18 months in retirement, Cao Cao returned to the capital Luoyang in 188. That year, he was appointed Colonel Who Arranges the Army (典軍校尉), fourth of eight heads of a newly established imperial army, the Army of the Western Garden. The effectiveness of this new force never became known, since it was disbanded the next year.
In 189, Emperor Ling died and was succeeded by his eldest son (Emperor Shao), although state power was mainly in the hands of Empress Dowager He and others. The empress dowager's brother, General-in-Chief He Jin, plotted with Yuan Shao to eliminate the Ten Attendants (a group of influential eunuchs in the imperial court). He Jin summoned Dong Zhuo, a seasoned general of Liang Province, to lead his army intoLuoyang to pressure the empress dowager to surrender power, despite accusations of Dong's "infamy". Before Dong Zhuo arrived, He Jin was assassinated by the eunuchs and Luoyang was thrown into chaos as Yuan Shao's supporters fought the eunuchs. Dong Zhuo's army easily rid the palace grounds of opposition. After he deposed Emperor Shao, Dong Zhuo placed the puppet Emperor Xian on the throne, as he deemed that Emperor Xian was more capable than the original puppet Emperor Shao.
After rejecting Dong Zhuo's appointment, Cao Cao left Luoyang for Chenliu (southeast of present-dayKaifeng, Henan, Cao's hometown), where he built his army. The next year, regional warlords formed a military alliance under Yuan Shao against Dong. Cao Cao joined them, becoming one of the few actively fighting members of the coalition. The coalition fell apart after months of inactivity, and China fell into civil war while Dong Zhuo was killed in 192 by Lü Bu.
Through short-term and regional-scale wars, Cao Cao continued to expand his power. In 193, Cao massacred thousands of civilians in Xu Province to avenge his father, whom Cao Cao believed to have been murdered by Xu Province's governor, Tao Qian.
In 196, Cao Cao joined Emperor Xian and convinced him to move the capital to Xuchang as suggested byXun Yu and other advisors, as Luoyang was ruined by war and Chang'an was not under Cao's military control, and he was appointed chancellor. Cao Cao became General-in-Chief (大將軍) and Marquis of Wuping (武平侯), though both titles had little practical implication. While some viewed the emperor as a puppet under Cao Cao's control, Cao adhered to a strict personal rule to his death that he would not usurp the throne. Later, when he was approached by his advisors to overthrow the Han Dynasty and start his own dynasty, he replied, "If heaven bestows such a fate upon me, let me be King Wen of Zhou."
To maintain a good relationship with Yuan Shao, who had become the most powerful warlord in China when he united the northern four provinces, Cao Cao lobbied to have Yuan appointed Minister of Works. However, this had the opposite effect, as Yuan Shao believed that Cao Cao was trying to humiliate him, since Minister of Works technically ranked lower than General-in-Chief, and thus refused to accept the title. To pacify Yuan Shao, Cao Cao offered his own position to him, while becoming Minister of Works himself. While this temporarily resolved the conflict, it was the catalyst for the Battle of Guandu later.
In 200, Yuan Shao amassed more than 100,000 troops and marched southwards on Xuchang in the name of rescuing the emperor. Cao Cao gathered 20,000 men in Guandu, a strategic point on the Yellow River. The two armies came to a standstill as neither side was able to make much progress. Cao Cao's lack of men did not allow him to make significant attacks, and Yuan Shao's pride forced him to meet Cao's force head-on. Despite his overwhelming advantage in terms of manpower, Yuan Shao was unable to make full use of his resources because of his indecisive leadership and Cao Cao's position.
Besides the middle battleground of Guandu, two lines of battle were present. The eastern line with Yuan Tan of Yuan Shao's army against Zang Ba of Cao Cao's army was a one-sided battle in favour of Cao, as Yuan Tan's poor leadership was no match for Zang's local knowledge of the landscape and his hit-and-run tactics. On the western front, Yuan Shao's nephew, Gao Gan, performed better against Cao Cao's army and forced several reinforcements from Cao's main camp to maintain the western battle. Liu Bei, then a guest in Yuan Shao's army, suggested that he instigate rebellion in Cao Cao's territories as many followers of Yuan were in Cao's lands. The tactic was initially successful but Man Chong's diplomatic skills helped to resolve the conflict almost immediately. Man Chong had been placed as an official there for this specific reason, as Cao Cao had foreseen the possibility of insurrection prior to the battle.
Finally, a defector from Yuan Shao's army, Xu You, informed Cao Cao of the location of Yuan's supply depot. Cao Cao broke the stalemate by sending a special group of soldiers to burn all the supplies of Yuan Shao's army, thus winning a decisive and seemingly impossible victory. Yuan Shao fell ill and died shortly after the defeat, leaving two sons – the eldest son, Yuan Tan and the youngest son, Yuan Shang. As he had designated the youngest son, Yuan Shang, as his successor, rather than the eldest as tradition dictated, the two brothers fought each other, as they fought Cao Cao. Cao Cao used the internal conflict within the Yuan clan to his advantage and defeated the Yuans easily. Cao Cao assumed effective rule over all of northern China. He sent armies further out and expanded his control across the Great Wall into present-day Korea, and southward to the Han River.Traditional site of the Red Cliffs, north ofWulin, Hubei.
However, Cao Cao's attempt to extend his domination south of the Yangtze River was unsuccessful. He received an initial success when Liu Biao, the Governor of Jing Province, died, and his successor, Liu Cong surrendered to Cao Cao without resistance. Delighted by this, he pressed on despite objections from his military advisors and hoped the same would happen again. His forces were defeated by a coalition of his arch-rivals Liu Bei and Sun Quan (who later founded the states of Shu Han and Eastern Wu respectively) at the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208.
In 213, Cao Cao received the title "Duke of Wei" (魏公) and was given the nine bestowmentsand a fief of ten cities under his domain, known as Wei. In 216, Cao Cao was promoted to the status of a vassal king - "King of Wei" (魏王). Over the years, Cao Cao, as well as Liu Bei and Sun Quan, continued to consolidate their power in their respective regions. Through many wars, China became divided into three powers – Wei, Shu and Wu, which fought sporadic battles without the balance tipping significantly in anyone's favour.
In 220, Cao Cao died in Luoyang at the age of 65, having failed to unify China under his rule. His will instructed that he be buried nearXimen Bao's tomb in Ye without gold and jade treasures, and that his subjects on duty at the frontier were to stay in their posts and not attend the funeral as, in his own words, "the country is still unstable".
Cao Cao's eldest surviving son Cao Pi succeeded him. Within a year, Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate and proclaimed himself the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei. Cao Cao was then posthumously titled "Grand Ancestor Emperor Wu of Wei" (魏太祖武皇帝)
A mask of Cao Cao in Chinese opera.
While historical records indicate Cao Cao as a brilliant ruler, he was represented as a cunning and deceitful man in Chinese opera, where his character is given a white facial makeup to reflect his treacherous personality. When Luo Guanzhong wrote the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he took much of his inspiration from Chinese opera.
As the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been adapted to modern forms of entertainment, so has its portrayal of Cao Cao. Given the source material upon which these adaptations are founded, Cao Cao continues to be characterised as a prominent villain.
Through to modern times, the Chinese equivalent of the English idiom "speak of the Devil" is "speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives" (simplified Chinese: 说曹操，曹操到; traditional Chinese: 說曹操，曹操到; pinyin: shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào).
After the Communists won the Chinese Civil War in 1949, many people in China began to believe that there were many similarities between Cao Cao and Mao Zedong. Because of this perceived similarity, propagandists began a long-term, sustained effort to improve the image of Cao Cao in Chinese popular culture. In 1959, Peng Dehuai wrote a letter to Mao, in which he compared himself to Zhang Fei: because of Mao's popular association with Cao, Peng's comparison implied that he had an intuitively confrontational relationship with Mao. Mao had the letter widely circulated in order to make Peng's attitude clear to other Party members, and proceeded to purge Peng, eventually ending Peng's career.
While waging military campaigns against his enemies, Cao Cao did not forget the bases of society – agriculture and education.
In 194, a locust plague caused a major famine across China. The people resorted to cannibalism out of desperation. Without food, many armies were defeated without fighting. From this experience, Cao Cao saw the importance of an ample food supply in building a strong military. He began a series of agricultural programs in cities such as Xuchang and Chenliu. Refugees were recruited and given wasteland to cultivate. Later, encampments not faced with imminent danger of war were also made to farm. This system was continued and spread to all regions under Cao Cao as his realm expanded. Although Cao Cao's primary intention was to build a powerful army, the agricultural program also improved the living standards of the people, especially war refugees.
By 203, Cao Cao had eliminated most of Yuan Shao's forces. This afforded him more attention on construction within his realm. In autumn of that year, Cao Cao passed an order decreeing the promotion of education throughout the counties and cities within his jurisdiction. An official in charge of education was assigned to each county with at least 500 households. Youngsters with potential and talents were selected for schooling. This prevented a lapse in the output of intellectuals in those warring years and, in Cao Cao's words, would benefit the people.Poetry of Cao Cao
Cao Cao was an accomplished poet, as were his sons Cao Pi and Cao Zhi. He was also a patron of poets such as Xu Gan. Of Cao Cao's works, only a remnant remain today. His verses, unpretentious yet profound, helped to reshape the poetic style of his time and beyond, eventually contributing to the poetry styles associated with Tang Dynasty poetry. Cao Cao, Cao Pi and Cao Zhi are known collectively as the "Three Caos". The Three Caos' poetry, together with additional poets, became known as the Jian'an style, which contributed eventually to Tang and later poetry. Cao Cao also wrote verse in the older four-character per line style characteristic of theClassic of Poetry. Burton Watson describes Cao Cao as: "the only writer of the period who succeeded in infusing the old four-character metre with any vitality, mainly because he discarded the archaic diction associated with it and employed the ordinary poetic language of his time." Cao Cao is also known for his early contributions to the Shanshui poetry genre, with his 4-character-per-line, 14-line poem "View of the Blue Sea" (as translated by Wai-lim Yip).Cao Cao Mausoleum
On 27 December 2009, the Henan Provincial Cultural Heritage Bureau reported the discovery of Cao Cao's tomb in Xigaoxue Village,Anyang County, Henan. The tomb, covering an area of 740 square metres, was discovered in December 2008 when workers at a nearby kiln were digging for mud to make bricks. Its discovery was not reported and the local authorities knew of it only when they seized a stone tablet carrying the inscription 'King Wu of Wei' — Cao Cao's posthumous title — from grave robbers who claimed to have stolen it from the tomb. Over the following year, archaeologists recovered more than 250 relics from the tomb. The remains of three persons — a man in his 60s, a woman in her 50s and another woman in her 20s — were also unearthed and are believed to be those of Cao Cao, one of his wives, and a servant.
Since the discovery of the tomb, there have been many skeptics and experts who pointed out problems with it and raised doubts about its authenticity. In January 2010, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage legally endorsed the initial results from research conducted throughout 2009 suggesting that the tomb was Cao Cao's. However, in August 2010, 23 experts and scholars presented evidence at a forum held in Suzhou, Jiangsu to argue that the findings and the artefacts of the tomb were fake. In September 2010, an article published in an archaeology magazine claimed that the tomb and the adjacent one actually belonged to Cao Huan (a grandson of Cao Cao) and his father Cao Yu.
In 2010, the tomb became part of the fifth batch of Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level in China. As of December 2011, it has been announced that the local government in Anyang is constructing a museum on the original site of the tomb which will be named 'Cao Cao Mausoleum Museum' (曹操高陵博物馆).