I'm reading an abridged version of 三国演义。(I don't think I could read the original, too difficult for me.)


Did 司马懿 put on women's clothes to meet 诸葛亮's envoy? Or is this just a bad book?


Did 司马懿 put on women's clothes to meet 诸葛亮's envoy?

I don't think 司马懿 really put on the clothes.

From the original:

(emphasis mine)


受之 only means 司马懿 received / took in / accepted the clothes.

Here's an English version:

(emphasis mine)

Then he confirmed the order to remain strictly on the defensive till some change of circumstances on the part of the enemy should promise advantage.

After his army had settled into camp on the Wuzhang Hills, Zhuge Liang continued his attempts to provoke a battle. Day after day, parties went to challenge the army of Wei, but they resisted all provocation.

One day Zhuge Liang put a dress made of deer hide in a box, which he sent, with a letter, to his rival. The insult could not be concealed, so the generals led the bearer of the box to their chief. Sima Yi opened the box and saw the deer hide dress. Then he opened the letter, which read something like this:

"Friend Sima Yi, although you are a Commander-in-Chief and lead the armies of the Middle Land, you seem but little disposed to display the firmness and valor that would render a contest decisive. Instead, you have prepared a comfortable lair where you are safe from the keen edge of the sword. Are you not very like a deer? Wherefore I send the bearer with a suitable gift, and you will humbly accept it and the humiliation, unless, indeed, you finally decide to come out and fight like a warrior. If you are not entirely indifferent to shame, if you retain any of the feelings of a tiger, you will send this back to me and come out and give battle."

Sima Yi, although inwardly raging, pretended to take it all as a joke and smiled.

"So he regards me as a deer," said he.

He accepted the gift and treated the messenger well.


Most likely not.

三国演义 is a novel, therefore the stories in 三国演义 are not nessecarily fact. And as described in @songyuanyao's answer, 三国演义 does not say that 司马懿 put on the cloths.

A relevant Story in 晋书 (History of the Jin Dynasty) reads as following:


[诸葛亮 challenged 司马懿 to fight for multiple times, but 司马懿 did not respond. Therefore 诸葛亮 send a set of women's clothes to 司马懿 (to irritate him). 司马懿 was angry, and he wrote a letter to the king asking for permission to fight, but the king did not allow. The king appointed 辛毗 as 司马懿's military advisor to control him.]

The book you read may not be a bad book, but a little more fictional. Some TV shows also features the similar story where 司马懿 puts on the women's cloth and even shows off in front of 诸葛亮。


我理解他穿上那件诸葛亮送的女人衣服,他是想像使者传递一个信息: "我知道你是有意激怒我,从而达到让我出战的目的。 但我不会上你的当,我已经识破了你的计谋。"

Maybe, more context would help to understand it more clearly.

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