Zhong Yao
ROTK12 Zhong Yao
Character Information
Force(s): Wei
Weapon Type: Sword (8)
Unit Type: Strategist (8)
First Appearance: Dynasty Warriors: Online
Historical Information
Real name:
Zhōng Yáo
Chinese name:
鍾繇 - 钟繇
Style name:
Chinese name:

Zhong Yao (onyomi: Shō Yō) is a general, politician, and calligrapher of Wei. He served Cao Cao and Cao Pi during his lifetime, but he is better known for his written compositions having been a student of Cai Yong. Shortly after Cao Cao's victory at Guandu, Zhong Yao was sent to Liang Province to broker peace between Han Sui and Ma Teng. He is Zhong Hui's father, and Zhang Changpu is one of his wives.

Role in GamesEdit

He remains absent from most of the Dynasty Warriors series, but he is now an officer under Cao Cao in the Online adaption for the Chi Bi expansion. He appears as a randomly placed general in the Battle of Chi Bi and Jing Province.

Zhong Yao also appears in Dynasty Warriors 8, where he aids his son's rebellion during Jin's hypothetical branch.

Players can also recruit Zhong Yao as a general in the Dynasty Tactics games.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, he remains an above average secondary officer who excels in political and domestic affairs. Although he is not suited for battle, players can make do with his tactics with his relatively high Intelligence stat. Romance of the Three Kingdoms VI has him star in a miniature event with Cao Cao and his sons, Cao Pi and Cao Zhi in the year 216. He is noted as one of the brave men who serve under Cao Cao and presses for his lord's ascension as emperor. Players can visit him in the library and historical archives in Xuchang during the Online adaption as he has yet to participate in any campaigns.

Historical InformationEdit


Portrait in the Sancai Tuhui.

Personal InfoEdit

Zhong Yao was born in Changshe, Yuzhou (modern Xu Chang, Henan). He fathered one daughter and two sons, Zhong Yu and Zhong Hui. His daughter married the Wei general, Xun Xu, and Guo Yuan was his nephew from his sister's side of the family.

According to the New Book of Tang, Zhong Yao was a descendant of Zhongli Mo (鍾離昧), a general who once served but was neglected by Xiang Yu. The record claims that Zhongli Mei's second son, Zhongli Jie, lived past his father and was able to extend his lineage, dropping the "li" from their name throughout the generations. His grandchild's descendant eventually lead into Zhong Yao's generation. However, since other sources do not verify or address his family history as such, the authenticity of his genealogy from this account is debated.

As a student of Cai Yong, a famous calligrapher, Zhong Yao studied in the clerical and semi-cursive scripts. He contributed to the development of what is now known as standard script. His famous works include the Xuānshì Biǎo, Jiànjìzhí Biǎo, and Lìmìng Biǎo, which survive through handcopies by Wang Xizhi, who advocated the study of standard script. His works also inspired Lady Wei (Wei Shuo). As he created a writing system that was unheard of during his age, he was hailed as the "father of standard script" or "king of standard script" by Wang Xizhi. His work is still studied to this day, and, as a result, standard script is also known as the "Zhong Yao Concept".

Life and DeathEdit

When Zhong Yao was thirty years old, he was appointed into the court as a low-ranked civil official. His history before his appointment remains disputed and unknown. When Li Jue and Guo Si threatened to take Chang'an in 192, he remained dedicated to the emperor and was later recommended as a judge. He helped retained relations with Cao Cao and Han Dynasty shortly after, gradually climbing up in ranks and prestige by fairly judging inner affairs. In 195, he escaped with a person in the chief of staff, Hán Bīn, striving to gain the merit as the deputy imperial censor. Xun Yu recognized him and recommended him to serve under Cao Cao. He was appointed as The Colonel Director of Retainers, which gave him the right to preside over military affairs and the left district.

Two years later, Ma Teng and Han Sui threatened to attack Cao Cao. Since his lord and his men were still recovering from his fight with Lu Bu, their position was vulnerable at this time. However, Ma Teng and his men were persuaded to lay down their arms and offer their services to the emperor instead, having their children held hostage as a sign of loyalty. Zhong Yao and Zhang Ji were the advisers that pushed for the non-violent exchange. During the Battle of Guandu, he sent 2,000 horsemen to Cao Cao. He stressed making the best of their resources, replying to Cao Cao, "In the past, Xiao He was able to defend by giving the army plenty to eat. I suggest the same is appropriate for us here."

In 202, Yuan Shang rallied the Xiongnu tribes, Chanyu tribes and Luanti Huchuquan, the leader of the Huns of the time period, to rebel in Guiyang County. They also summoned Yuan Shao's officer, Guo Yuan, to come to their aid. Zhong Yao was in the area at the time and ordered to suppress them, despite being simultaneously surrounded. To counter the forces against him, he dispatched Zhang Ji to persuade Ma Teng to join the subjugation. Ma Teng accepted and marched with Ma Chao, Pang De, and 10,000 other soldiers. Zhong Yao joined Ma Chao and Pang De in the march against Guo Yuan, leading to a fierce conflict that wounded Ma Chao in the leg. It ended with Pang De decapitating Guo Yuan. The death of the enemy general triggered Luanti Huchuquan and the remaining rebels' surrender. As Pang De took out the arrow that was planted into Guo Yuan's head, Zhong Yao wept bitterly at the sight. Pang De apologized, but Zhong Yao affirmed, "Even if he was my nephew, he was still a traitor. There is no need for you to excuse yourself."

Zhong Yao was later sent to manage the population in Luoyang by driving out the fugitives, criminals, and immigrants from Quanzhong. He was appointed as military advisor soon after. By the time Cao Cao became the official ruler of Wei, he was the Chief Secretary. As he overlooked affairs, Zhong Yao found a promising and inspiring youth from Xuzhou named Wei Feng. Impressed with the youth's talents, he recommended Wei Feng to serve Cao Cao. Wei Feng wasn't completely trusted by his peers and he lead a failed coup d'état in 219, soon after Yu Jin's surrender. His plot was leaked and he was caught and executed by Cao Pi. Although Zhong Yao had no direct involvement in the plot, he was regardless deemed a suspicious figure due to his ties with Wei Feng. As punishment, he was temporarily relieved of his duties.

By the time Cao Pi came into power, Zhong Yao was appointed Grand Judge. After Emperor Xian's abdication, he became the Grand Commandant and Tinghou of Pingyang. He was indignant when Cao Pi ordered his wife to commit suicide and voluntarily swallowed an entire Sichuan pepper. The pepper's juices caused his throat to become highly irritated and it's said that he wasn't able to talk due to his mouth's swollen condition.

When Cao Rui ascended the throne, he became the Grand Tutor and full marquess of Dingling. He died when he was 80 years old. Cao Rui visited his family to offer his condolences and honored Zhong Yao's titles to his children. He was posthumously named Marquess Cheng.

Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

Zhong Yao is briefly mentioned in chapter 56 in Romance of the Three Kingdoms as one of the four scholars to celebrate the completion of Bronze Bird Tower with poetry. He was introduced as Governor of Chang'an when Han Sui's army attacks two chapters later. Zhong Yao tried to negotiate with Ma Dai, but was attacked. Fleeing back to Changan, he set up defenses when the main unit of the enemy forces arrived. When Ma Chao and his army feigned a retreat from the city, Zhong Yao fell for the ruse and relaxed his defenses. He allowed the gates to be opened for five days until news of Ma Chao's army caused him to bar the gates once more. As Pang De commenced a night raid from within the city gates and killed his younger brother, Zhong Jing, Zhong Yao fled. After regrettably reporting the loss to Cao Cao, he was given reprieve of the city's defense when Cao Hong and Xu Huang arrived to deal with Han Sui's army.

He later drafted the edict to make Cao Cao the Prince of Wei and was named Prime Minister soon after. During Cao Rui's reign, he was titled Imperial Guardian and confidently recommended for Sima Yi to drive back Zhuge Liang's invasion. When Hanzhong was surrounded on ten fronts thirteen chapters later, Zhong Yao was mentioned by Xiahou Ba to have passed away. Simultaneously, Zhong Hui is also mentioned in the novel for the first time.