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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.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." At the age of 20, Cao Cao was appointed district captain of Luoyang.The plot came to nothing, and Wang Fen killed himself.After 18 months in retirement, Cao Cao returned to the capital Luoyang in 188.
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.He Jin summoned Dong Zhuo, a seasoned general of Liang Province, to lead an army into Luoyang to pressure the empress dowager to surrender power, braving 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.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. 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.
During the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty, Cao Cao was able to secure the most populated and prosperous cities of the central plains and northern China.