The Art of War

By Sun Tzu.

Translated by Lionel Giles.


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To my brother
Captain Valentine Giles, R.G.
in the hope that
a work 2,400 years old
may yet contain lessons worth consideration
by the soldier of today
this translation
is affectionately dedicated.

Preface by Lionel Giles

The seventh volume of Mémoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les mœurs, les usages, etc., des Chinois1 is devoted to the Art of War, and contains, amongst other treatises, Les Treize Articles de Sun-tse, translated from the Chinese by a Jesuit Father, Joseph Amiot. Père Amiot appears to have enjoyed no small reputation as a sinologue in his day, and the field of his labours was certainly extensive. But his so-called translation of the Sun Tzǔ, if placed side by side with the original, is seen at once to be little better than an imposture. It contains a great deal that Sun Tzǔ did not write, and very little indeed of what he did. Here is a fair specimen, taken from the opening sentences of chapter 5:

De l’habileté dans le gouvernement des Troupes. Sun-tse dit: Ayez les noms de tous les Officiers tant généraux que subalternes; inscrivez-les dans un catalogue à part, avec la note des talents & de la capacité de chacun d’eux, afin de pouvoir les employer avec avantage lorsque l’occasion en sera venue. Faites en sorte que tous ceux que vous devez commander soient persuadés que votre principale attention est de les préserver de tout dommage. Les troupes que vous ferez avancer contre l’ennemi doivent être comme des pierres que vous lanceriez contre des œufs. De vous à l’ennemi il ne doit y avoir d’autre différence que celle du fort au faible, du vide au plein. Attaquez à découvert, mais soyez vainqueur en secret. Voilà en peu de mots en quoi consiste l’habileté & toute la perfection même du gouvernement des troupes.

Throughout the nineteenth century, which saw a wonderful development in the study of Chinese literature, no translator ventured to tackle Sun Tzǔ, although his work was known to be highly valued in China as by far the oldest and best compendium of military science. It was not until the year 1905 that the first English translation, by Capt. E. F. Calthrop, R.F.A., appeared at Tokyo under the title Sonshi (the Japanese form of Sun Tzǔ).2 Unfortunately, it was evident that the translator’s knowledge of Chinese was far too scanty to fit him to grapple with the manifold difficulties of Sun Tzǔ. He himself plainly acknowledges that without the aid of two Japanese gentlemen “the accompanying translation would have been impossible.” We can only wonder, then, that with their help it should have been so excessively bad. It is not merely a question of downright blunders, from which none can hope to be wholly exempt. Omissions were frequent; hard passages were wilfully distorted or slurred over. Such offences are less pardonable. They would not be tolerated in any edition of a Greek or Latin classic, and a similar standard of honesty ought to be insisted upon in translations from Chinese.

From blemishes of this nature, at least, I believe that the present translation is free. It was not undertaken out of any inflated estimate of my own powers; but I could not help feeling that Sun Tzǔ deserved a better fate than had befallen him, and I knew that, at any rate, I could hardly fail to improve on the work of my predecessors. Towards the end of 1908, a new and revised edition of Capt. Calthrop’s translation was published in London, this time, however, without any allusion to his Japanese collaborators. My first three chapters were then already in the printer’s hands, so that the criticisms of Capt. Calthrop therein contained must be understood as referring to his earlier edition. This is on the whole an improvement on the other, though there still remains much that cannot pass muster. Some of the grosser blunders have been rectified and lacunae filled up, but on the other hand a certain number of new mistakes appear. The very first sentence of the introduction is startlingly inaccurate; and later on, while mention is made of “an army of Japanese commentators” on Sun Tzǔ (who are these, by the way?), not a word is vouchsafed about the Chinese commentators, who nevertheless, I venture to assert, form a much more numerous and infinitely more important “army.”

A few special features of the present volume may now be noticed. In the first place, the text has been cut up into paragraphs, both in order to facilitate cross-reference and for the convenience of students generally. The division follows broadly that of Sun Hsing-yen’s edition; but I have sometimes found it desirable to join two or more of his paragraphs into one. In quoting from other works, Chinese writers seldom give more than the bare title by way of reference, and the task of research is apt to be seriously hampered in consequence. From the mass of native commentary my aim has been to extract the cream only, adding the Chinese text here and there when it seemed to present points of literary interest. Though constituting in itself an important branch of Chinese literature, very little commentary of this kind has hitherto been made directly accessible by translation.3

I may say in conclusion that, owing to the printing off of my sheets as they were completed, the work has not had the benefit of a final revision. On a review of the whole, without modifying the substance of my criticisms, I might have been inclined in a few instances to temper their asperity. Having chosen to wield a bludgeon, however, I shall not cry out if in return I am visited with more than a rap over the knuckles. Indeed, I have been at some pains to put a sword into the hands of future opponents by scrupulously giving either text or reference for every passage translated. A scathing review, even from the pen of the Shanghai critic who despises “mere translations,” would not, I must confess, be altogether unwelcome. For, after all, the worst fate I shall have to dread is that which befell the ingenious paradoxes of George in The Vicar of Wakefield.

Sun Wu and His Book

Ssǔ-ma Chʽien gives the following biography of Sun Tzǔ:4

孫子武 Sun Tzǔ Wu was a native of the Chʽi State. His Art of War brought him to the notice of 闔盧 Ho Lu,5 King of Wu. Ho Lu said to him:

“I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?”

Sun Tzǔ replied: “You may.”

Ho Lu asked: “May the test be applied to women?”

The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. Sun Tzǔ divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King’s favorite concubines at the head of each. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: “I presume you know the difference between front and back, right hand and left hand?”

The girls replied: “Yes.”

Sun Tzǔ went on: “When I say ‘Eyes front,’ you must look straight ahead. When I say ‘Left turn,’ you must face towards your left hand. When I say ‘Right turn,’ you must face towards your right hand. When I say ‘About turn,’ you must face right round towards your back.”

Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order “Right turn.” But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzǔ said: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.”

So he started drilling them again, and this time gave the order “Left turn,” whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzǔ: “If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers.”

So saying, he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. Now the king of Wu was watching the scene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favorite concubines were about to be executed, he was greatly alarmed and hurriedly sent down the following message: “We are now quite satisfied as to our general’s ability to handle troops. If we are bereft of these two concubines, our meat and drink will lose their savor. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded.”

Sun Tzǔ replied: “Having once received His Majesty’s commission to be the general of his forces, there are certain commands of His Majesty which, acting in that capacity, I am unable to accept.”

Accordingly, he had the two leaders beheaded, and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders in their place. When this had been done, the drum was sounded for the drill once more; and the girls went through all the evolutions, turning to the right or to the left, marching ahead or wheeling back, kneeling or standing, with perfect accuracy and precision, not venturing to utter a sound. Then Sun Tzǔ sent a messenger to the King saying: “Your soldiers, Sire, are now properly drilled and disciplined, and ready for your majesty’s inspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire; bid them go through fire and water, and they will not disobey.”

But the King replied: “Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. As for us, We have no wish to come down and inspect the troops.”

Thereupon Sun Tzǔ said: “The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds.”

After that, Ho Lu saw that Sun Tzǔ was one who knew how to handle an army, and finally appointed him general. In the west, he defeated the Chʽu State and forced his way into Ying, the capital; to the north he put fear into the States of Chʽi and Chin, and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. And Sun Tzǔ shared in the might of the King.

About Sun Tzǔ himself this is all that Ssǔ-ma Chʽien has to tell us in this chapter. But he proceeds to give a biography of his descendant, 孫臏 Sun Pin, born about a hundred years after his famous ancestor’s death, and also the outstanding military genius of his time. The historian speaks of him too as Sun Tzǔ, and in his preface we read: 孫子臏脚而論兵法Sun Tzǔ had his feet cut off and yet continued to discuss the art of war.”6 It seems likely, then, that “Pin” was a nickname bestowed on him after his mutilation, unless the story was invented in order to account for the name. The crowning incident of his career, the crushing defeat of his treacherous rival Pʽang Chuan, will be found briefly related in note 292.

To return to the elder Sun Tzǔ. He is mentioned in two other passages of the Shih Chi:⁠—

In the third year of his reign [512 BC] Ho Lu, king of Wu, took the field with 子胥 Tzǔ-hsü [i.e. 伍員 Wu Yüan] and 伯嚭 Po Pʽei, and attacked Chʽu. He captured the town of Shu and slew the two prince’s sons who had formerly been generals of Wu. He was then meditating a descent on Ying [the capital]; but the general Sun Wu said: “The army is exhausted.7 It is not yet possible. We must wait.”⁠ ⁠…8 [After further successful fighting,] in the ninth year [506 BC], King Ho Lu addressed Wu Tzǔ-hsü and Sun Wu, saying: “Formerly, you declared that it was not yet possible for us to enter Ying. Is the time ripe now?” The two men replied: “Chʽu’s general 子常 Tzǔ-chʽang,9 is grasping and covetous, and the princes of Tʽang and Tsʽai both have a grudge against him. If Your Majesty has resolved to make a grand attack, you must win over Tʽang and Tsʽai, and then you may succeed.” Ho Lu followed this advice, [beat Chʽu in five pitched battles and marched into Ying.]10

This is the latest date at which anything is recorded of Sun Wu. He does not appear to have survived his patron, who died from the effects of a wound in 496.

In the chapter entitled 律書 (the earlier portion of which M. Chavannes believes to be a fragment of a treatise on Military Weapons), there occurs this passage:11

From this time onward, a number of famous soldiers arose, one after the other: 咎犯 Kao-fan,12 who was employed by the Chin State; Wang-tzǔ,13 in the service of Chʽi; and Sun Wu, in the service of Wu. These men developed and threw light upon the principles of war. (申明軍約).

It is obvious enough that Ssǔ-ma Chʽien at least had no doubt about the reality of Sun Wu as an historical personage; and with one exception, to be noticed presently, he is by far the most important authority on the period in question. It will not be necessary, therefore, to say much of such a work as the 吳越春秋 Wu Yüeh Chʽun Chʽiu, which is supposed to have been written by 趙曄 Chao Yeh of the 1st century AD. The attribution is somewhat doubtful; but even if it were otherwise, his account would be of little value, based as it is on the Shih Chi and expanded with romantic details. The story of Sun Tzǔ will be found, for what it is worth, in chapter 2. The only new points in it worth noting are: (1) Sun Tzǔ was first recommended to Ho Lu by Wu Tzǔ-hsü. (2) He is called a native of Wu.14 (3) He had previously lived a retired life, and his contemporaries were unaware of his ability.15

The following passage occurs in the 淮南子 Huai-nan Tzǔ: “When sovereign and ministers show perversity of mind, it is impossible even for a Sun Tzǔ to encounter the foe.”16 Assuming that this work is genuine (and hitherto no doubt has been cast upon it), we have here the earliest direct reference for Sun Tzǔ, for Huai-nan Tzǔ died in 122 BC, many years before the Shih Chi was given to the world.

劉向 Liu Hsiang (80⁠–⁠9 BC) in his 新序 says: “The reason why Sun Tzǔ at the head of 30,000 men beat Chʽu with 200,000 is that the latter were undisciplined.”17

鄧名世 Têng Ming-shih in his 姓氏辨證書 (completed in 1134) informs us that the surname was bestowed on Sun Wu’s grandfather by 景公 Duke Ching of Chʽi (547⁠–⁠490 BC). Sun Wu’s father Sun Pʽing, rose to be a Minister of State in Chʽi, and Sun Wu himself, whose style was 長卿 Chʽang-chʽing, fled to Wu on account of the rebellion which was being fomented by the kindred of 田鮑 Tʽien Pao. He had three sons, of whom the second, named Ming, was the father of Sun Pin. According to this account then, Pin was the grandson of Wu,18 which, considering that Sun Pin’s victory over Wei was gained in 341 BC, may be dismissed as chronologically impossible. Whence these data were obtained by Têng Ming-shih I do not know, but of course no reliance whatever can be placed in them.

An interesting document which has survived from the close of the Han period is the short preface written by the Great 曹操 Tsʽao Tsʽao, or 魏武帝 Wu Wei Ti, for his edition of Sun Tzǔ. I shall give it in full:⁠—

I have heard that the ancients used bows and arrows to their advantage.19 The Lun Yu says: “There must be a sufficiency of military strength.”20 The Shu Ching mentions “the army” among the “eight objects of government.”21 The I Ching says: “ ‘army’ indicates firmness and justice; the experienced leader will have good fortune.”22 The Shih Ching says: “The King rose majestic in his wrath, and he marshaled his troops.”23 The Yellow Emperor, Tʽang the Completer and Wang all used spears and battle-axes in order to succor their generation. The Ssǔ-ma Fa says: “If one man slay another of set purpose, he himself may rightfully be slain.”24 He who relies solely on warlike measures shall be exterminated; he who relies solely on peaceful measures shall perish. Instances of this are Fu Chʽai25 on the one hand and Yen Wang on the other.26 In military matters, the Sage’s rule is normally to keep the peace, and to move his forces only when occasion requires. He will not use armed force unless driven to it by necessity.27

Many books have I read on the subject of war and fighting; but the work composed by Sun Wu is the profoundest of them all. [Sun Tzǔ was a native of the Chʽi state, his personal name was Wu. He wrote the Art of War in 13 chapters for Ho Lu, King of Wu. Its principles were tested on women, and he was subsequently made a general. He led an army westwards, crushed the Chʽu state and entered Ying the capital. In the north, he kept Chʽi and Chin in awe. A hundred years and more after his time, Sun Pin lived. He was a descendant of Wu].28 In his treatment of deliberation and planning, the importance of rapidity in taking the field,29 clearness of conception, and depth of design, Sun Tzǔ stands beyond the reach of carping criticism. My contemporaries, however, have failed to grasp the full meaning of his instructions, and while putting into practice the smaller details in which his work abounds, they have overlooked its essential purport. That is the motive which has led me to outline a rough explanation of the whole.30

One thing to be noticed in the above is the explicit statement that the 13 chapters were specially composed for King Ho Lu. This is supported by the internal evidence of chapter I (“The general that hearkens to my counsel⁠ ⁠…”), in which it seems clear that some ruler is addressed.

In the bibliographic section of the Han Shu,31 there is an entry which has given rise to much discussion: 吳孫子八十二篇圖九卷 “The works of Sun Tzǔ of Wu in 82 pʽien (or chapters), with diagrams in 9 chüan.” It is evident that this cannot be merely the 13 chapters known to Ssǔ-ma Chʽien, or those we possess today. Chang Shou-chieh in his 史記正義 refers to an edition of Sun Tzǔ’s 兵法 of which the “13 chapters” formed the first chüan, adding that there were two other chüan besides.32 This has brought forth a theory, that the bulk of these 82 chapters consisted of other writings of Sun Tzǔ⁠—we should call them apocryphal⁠—similar to the 問答 Wen Ta, of which a specimen dealing with the Nine Situations33 is preserved in the 通典 Tʽung Tien, and another in Ho Shih’s commentary. It is suggested that before his interview with Ho Lu, Sun Tzǔ had only written the 13 chapters, but afterwards composed a sort of exegesis in the form of question and answer between himself and the King. 畢以珣 Pi I-hsün, the author of the 孫子敘錄 Sun Tzǔ Hsü Lu, backs this up with a quotation from the Wu Yüeh Chʽun Chʽiu: “The King of Wu summoned Sun Tzǔ, and asked him questions about the art of war. Each time he set forth a chapter of his work, the King could not find words enough to praise him.”34 As he points out, if the whole work was expounded on the same scale as in the above-mentioned fragments, the total number of chapters could not fail to be considerable.35 Then the numerous other treatises attributed to Sun Tzǔ36 might also be included. The fact that the Han Chih mentions no work of Sun Tzǔ except the 82 pʽien, whereas the Sui and Tʽang bibliographies give the titles of others in addition to the “13 chapters,” is good proof, Pi I-hsün thinks, that all of these were contained in the 82 pʽien. Without pinning our faith to the accuracy of details supplied by the Wu Yüeh Chʽun Chʽiu, or admitting the genuineness of any of the treatises cited by Pi I-hsün, we may see in this theory a probable solution of the mystery. Between Ssǔ-ma Chʽien and Pan Ku there was plenty of time for a luxuriant crop of forgeries to have grown up under the magic name of Sun Tzǔ, and the 82 pʽien may very well represent a collected edition of these lumped together with the original work. It is also possible, though less likely, that some of them existed in the time of the earlier historian and were purposely ignored by him.37

Tu Mu, after Tsʽao Kung the most important commentator on Sun Tzǔ, composed the preface to his edition38 about the middle of the ninth century. After a somewhat lengthy defence of the military art,39 he comes at last to Sun Tzǔ himself, and makes one or two very startling assertions:⁠—“The writings of Sun Wu,” he says, “originally comprised several hundred thousand words, but Tsʽao Tsʽao, the Emperor Wei, pruned away all redundancies and wrote out the essence of the whole, so as to form a single book in 13 chapters.”40 He goes on to remark that Tsʽao Tsʽao’s commentary on Sun Tzǔ leaves a certain proportion of difficulties unexplained.41 This, in Tu Mu’s opinion, does not necessarily imply that he was unable to furnish a complete commentary. According to the Wei Chih, Tsʽao himself wrote a book on war in something over 100,000 words, known as the 新書. It appears to have been of such exceptional merit that he suspects Tsʽao to have used for it the surplus material which he had found in Sun Tzǔ. He concludes, however, by saying: “The Hsin Shu is now lost, so that the truth cannot be known for certain.”42

Tu Mu’s conjecture seems to be based on a passage in the 漢官解詁Wei Wu Ti strung together Sun Wu’s Art of War,”43 which in turn may have resulted from a misunderstanding of the final words of Tsʽao Kung’s preface: 故撰為略解焉. This, as Sun Hsing-yen points out,44 is only a modest way of saying that he made an explanatory paraphrase,45 or in other words, wrote a commentary on it. On the whole, this theory has met with very little acceptance. Thus, the 四庫全書 says:46 “The mention of the 13 chapters in the Shih Chi shows that they were in existence before the Han Chih, and that latter accretions are not to be considered part of the original work. Tu Mu’s assertion can certainly not be taken as proof.”47

There is every reason to suppose, then, that the 13 chapters existed in the time of Ssǔ-ma Chʽien practically as we have them now. That the work was then well known he tells us in so many words: “Sun Tzǔ’s 13 Chapters and Chʽi’s Art of War are the two books that people commonly refer to on the subject of military matters. Both of them are widely distributed, so I will not discuss them here.”48 But as we go further back, serious difficulties begin to arise. The salient fact which has to be faced is that the Tso Chuan, the greatest contemporary record, makes no mention whatsoever of Sun Wu, either as a general or as a writer. It is natural, in view of this awkward circumstance, that many scholars should not only cast doubt on the story of Sun Wu as given in the Shih Chi, but even show themselves frankly skeptical as to the existence of the man at all. The most powerful presentment of this side of the case is to be found in the following disposition by 葉水心 Yeh Shui-hsin:49⁠—

It is stated in Ssǔ-ma Chʽien’s history that Sun Wu was a native of the Chʽi State, and employed by Wu; and that in the reign of Ho Lu he crushed Chʽu, entered Ying, and was a great general. But in Tso’s Commentary no Sun Wu appears at all. It is true that Tso’s Commentary need not contain absolutely everything that other histories contain. But Tso has not omitted to mention vulgar plebeians and hireling ruffians such as Ying Kʽao-shu,50 Tsʽao Kuei,51 Chu Chih-wu52 and Chuan She-chu.53 In the case of Sun Wu, whose fame and achievements were so brilliant, the omission is much more glaring. Again, details are given, in their due order, about his contemporaries Wu Yüan and the Minister Pʽei.54 Is it credible that Sun Wu alone should have been passed over?55

In point of literary style, Sun Tzǔ’s work belongs to the same school as Kuan Tzǔ,56 Liu Tʽao,57 and the Yüeh Yü,58 and may have been the production of some private scholar living towards the end of the “Spring and Autumn” or the beginning of the “Warring States” period.59 The story that his precepts were actually applied by the Wu State, is merely the outcome of big talk on the part of his followers.60

From the flourishing period of the Chou dynasty61 down to the time of the “Spring and Autumn,” all military commanders were statesmen as well, and the class of professional generals, for conducting external campaigns, did not then exist. It was not until the period of the “Six States”62 that this custom changed. Now although Wu was an uncivilized State, is it conceivable that Tso should have left unrecorded the fact that Sun Wu was a great general and yet held no civil office? What we are told, therefore, about Jang-chu63 and Sun Wu, is not authentic matter, but the reckless fabrication of theorizing pundits. The story of Ho Lü’s experiment on the women, in particular, is utterly preposterous and incredible.64

Yeh Shui-hsin represents Ssǔ-ma Chʽien as having said that Sun Wu crushed Chʽu and entered Ying. This is not quite correct. No doubt the impression left on the reader’s mind is that he at least shared in these exploits; but the subject of the verbs , , and is certainly 闔廬, as shown by the next words: 孫子與有力焉.65 The fact may or may not be significant; but it is nowhere explicitly stated in the Shih Chi either that Sun Tzǔ was general on the occasion of the taking of Ying, or that he even went there at all. Moreover, as we know that Yüan and Po Pʽei both took part in the expedition, and also that its success was largely due to the dash and enterprise of 夫㮣 Fu Kai, Ho Lu’s younger brother, it is not easy to see how yet another general could have played a very prominent part in the same campaign.

陳振孫 Chʽên Chên-sun of the Sung dynasty has the note:⁠—66

Military writers look upon Sun Wu as the father of their art. But the fact that he does not appear in the Tso Chuan, although he is said to have served under Ho Lü King of Wu, makes it uncertain what period he really belonged to.67

He also says:⁠—

The works of Sun Wu and Chʽi may be of genuine antiquity.68

It is noticeable that both Yeh Shui-hsin and Chʽên Chên-sun, while rejecting the personality of Sun Wu as he figures in Ssǔ-ma Chʽien’s history, are inclined to accept the date traditionally assigned to the work which passes under his name. The author of the Hsü Lu fails to appreciate this distinction, and consequently his bitter attack on Chʽên Chên-sun really misses its mark. He makes one of two points, however, which certainly tell in favor of the high antiquity of our “13 chapters.” “Sun Tzǔ,” he says, “must have lived in the age of Ching Wang [519⁠–⁠476], because he is frequently plagiarized in subsequent works of the Chou, Chʽin and Han dynasties.”69 The two most shameless offenders in this respect are Wu Chʽi and Huai-nan Tzǔ, both of them important historical personages in their day. The former lived only a century after the alleged date of Sun Tzǔ, and his death is known to have taken place in 381 BC. It was to him, according to Liu Hsiang, that 曾申 Tsêng Shên delivered the Tso Chuan, which had been entrusted to him by its author.70 Now the fact that quotations from the Art of War, acknowledged or otherwise, are to be found in so many authors of different epochs, establishes a very strong anterior to them all⁠—in other words, that Sun Tzǔ’s treatise was already in existence towards the end of the 5th century BC. Further proof of Sun Tzǔ’s antiquity is furnished by the archaic or wholly obsolete meanings attaching to a number of the words he uses. A list of these, which might perhaps be extended, is given in the Hsü Lu; and though some of the interpretations are doubtful, the main argument is hardly affected thereby.71 Again, it must not be forgotten that Yeh Shui-hsin, a scholar and critic of the first rank, deliberately pronounces the style of the 13 chapters to belong to the early part of the fifth century. Seeing that he is actually engaged in an attempt to disprove the existence of Sun Wu himself, we may be sure that he would not have hesitated to assign the work to a later date had he not honestly believed the contrary. And it is precisely on such a point that the judgment of an educated Chinaman will carry most weight. Other internal evidence is not far to seek. Thus in chapter XIII (“Raising a host of a hundred thousand men⁠ ⁠…”), there is an unmistakable allusion to the ancient system of land-tenure which had already passed away by the time of Mencius, who was anxious to see it revived in a modified form.72 The only warfare Sun Tzǔ knows is that carried on between the various feudal princes (諸侯), in which armored chariots play a large part. Their use seems to have entirely died out before the end of the Chou dynasty. He speaks as a man of Wu, a state which ceased to exist as early as 473 BC. On this I shall touch presently.

But once refer the work to the 5th century or earlier, and the chances of its being other than a bonâ fide production are sensibly diminished. The great age of forgeries did not come until long after. That it should have been forged in the period immediately following 473 is particularly unlikely, for no one, as a rule, hastens to identify himself with a lost cause. As for Yeh Shui-hsin’s theory, that the author was a literary recluse,73 that seems to me quite untenable. If one thing is more apparent than another after reading the maxims of Sun Tzǔ, it is that their essence has been distilled from a large store of personal observation and experience. They reflect the mind not only of a born strategist, gifted with a rare faculty of generalization, but also of a practical soldier closely acquainted with the military conditions of his time. To say nothing of the fact that these sayings have been accepted and endorsed by all the greatest captains of Chinese history, they offer a combination of freshness and sincerity, acuteness and common sense, which quite excludes the idea that they were artificially concocted in the study. If we admit, then, that the 13 chapters were the genuine production of a military man living towards the end of the “Chʽun Chʽiu” period, are we not bound, in spite of the silence of the Tso Chuan, to accept Ssǔ-ma Chʽien’s account in its entirety? In view of his high repute as a sober historian, must we not hesitate to assume that the records he drew upon for Sun Wu’s biography were false and untrustworthy? The answer, I fear, must be in the negative. There is still one grave, if not fatal, objection to the chronology involved in the story as told in the Shih Chi, which, so far as I am aware, nobody has yet pointed out. There are two passages in Sun Tzǔ in which he alludes to contemporary affairs. The first is in VI:⁠—

Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yüeh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. I say then that victory can be achieved.

The other is in XI:⁠—

Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan, I should answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yüeh are enemies; yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right.

These two paragraphs are extremely valuable as evidence of the date of composition. They assign the work to the period of the struggle between Wu and Yüeh. So much has been observed by Pi I-hsün. But what has hitherto escaped notice is that they also seriously impair the credibility of Ssǔ-ma Chʽien’s narrative. As we have seen above, the first positive date given in connection with Sun Wu is 512 BC. He is then spoken of as a general, acting as confidential adviser to Ho Lu, so that his alleged introduction to that monarch had already taken place, and of course the 13 chapters must have been written earlier still. But at that time, and for several years after, down to the capture of Ying in 506, Chʽu and not Yüeh, was the great hereditary enemy of Wu. The two states, Chʽu and Wu, had been constantly at war for over half a century,74 whereas the first war between Wu and Yüeh was waged only in 510,75 and even then was no more than a short interlude sandwiched in the midst of the fierce struggle with Chʽu. Now Chʽu is not mentioned in the 13 chapters at all. The natural inference is that they were written at a time when Yüeh had become the prime antagonist of Wu, that is, after Chʽu had suffered the great humiliation of 506. At this point, a table of dates may be found useful.

514 Accession of Ho Lu.
512 Ho Lu attacks Chʽu, but is dissuaded from entering Ying, the capital. Shih Chi mentions Sun Wu as general.
511 Another attack on Chʽu.
510 Wu makes a successful attack on Yüeh. This is the first war between the two states.
Chʽu invades Wu, but is signally defeated at 豫章 Yü-chang.
506 Ho Lu attacks Chʽu with the aid of Tʽang and Tsʽai. Decisive battle of 柏舉 Po-chü, and capture of Ying. Last mention of Sun Wu in Shih Chi.
505 Yüeh makes a raid on Wu in the absence of its army. Wu is beaten by Chʽin and evacuates Ying.
504 Ho Lu sends 夫差 Fu Chʽai to attack Chʽu.
497 勾踐 Kou Chien becomes King of Yüeh.
496 Wu attacks Yüeh, but is defeated by Kou Chien at 檇李 Tsui-li. Ho Lu is killed.
494 Fu Chʽai defeats Kou Chien in the great battle of 夫椒 Fu-chiao, and enters the capital of Yüeh.
Kou Chien renders homage to Wu. Death of Wu Tzǔ-hsü.
482 Kou Chien invades Wu in the absence of Fu Chʽai.
Further attacks by Yüeh on Wu.
475 Kou Chien lays siege to the capital of Wu.
473 Final defeat and extinction of Wu.

The sentence quoted above from chapter VI hardly strikes me as one that could have been written in the full flush of victory. It seems rather to imply that, for the moment at least, the tide had turned against Wu, and that she was getting the worst of the struggle. Hence we may conclude that our treatise was not in existence in 505, before which date Yüeh does not appear to have scored any notable success against Wu. Ho Lu died in 496, so that if the book was written for him, it must have been during the period 505⁠–⁠496, when there was a lull in the hostilities, Wu having presumably exhausted by its supreme effort against Chʽu. On the other hand, if we choose to disregard the tradition connecting Sun Wu’s name with Ho Lu, it might equally well have seen the light between 496 and 494, or possibly in the period 482⁠–⁠473, when Yüeh was once again becoming a very serious menace.76 We may feel fairly certain that the author, whoever he may have been, was not a man of any great eminence in his own day. On this point the negative testimony of the Tso Chuan far outweighs any shred of authority still attaching to the Shih Chi, if once its other facts are discredited. Sun Hsing-yen, however, makes a feeble attempt to explain the omission of his name from the great commentary. It was Wu Tzǔ-hsü, he says, who got all the credit of Sun Wu’s exploits, because the latter (being an alien) was not rewarded with an office in the State.77

How then did the Sun Tzǔ legend originate? It may be that the growing celebrity of the book imparted by degrees a kind of factitious renown to its author. It was felt to be only right and proper that one so well versed in the science of war should have solid achievements to his credit as well. Now the capture of Ying was undoubtedly the greatest feat of arms in Ho Lu’s reign; it made a deep and lasting impression on all the surrounding states, and raised Wu to the short-lived zenith of her power. Hence, what more natural, as time went on, than that the acknowledged master of strategy, Sun Wu, should be popularly identified with that campaign, at first perhaps only in the sense that his brain conceived and planned it; afterwards, that it was actually carried out by him in conjunction with Wu Yüan,78 Po Pʽei and Fu Kai?

It is obvious that any attempt to reconstruct even the outline of Sun Tzǔ’s life must be based almost wholly on conjecture. With this necessary proviso, I should say that he probably entered the service of Wu about the time of Ho Lu’s accession, and gathered experience, though only in the capacity of a subordinate officer, during the intense military activity which marked the first half of the prince’s reign.79 If he rose to be a general at all, he certainly was never on an equal footing with the three above mentioned. He was doubtless present at the investment and occupation of Ying, and witnessed Wu’s sudden collapse in the following year. Yüeh’s attack at this critical juncture, when her rival was embarrassed on every side, seems to have convinced him that this upstart kingdom was the great enemy against whom every effort would henceforth have to be directed. Sun Wu was thus a well-seasoned warrior when he sat down to write his famous book, which according to my reckoning must have appeared towards the end, rather than the beginning of Ho Lu’s reign. The story of the women may possibly have grown out of some real incident occurring about the same time. As we hear no more of Sun Wu after this from any source, he is hardly likely to have survived his patron or to have taken part in the death-struggle with Yüeh, which began with the disaster at Tsui-li.

If these inferences are approximately correct, there is a certain irony in the fate which decreed that China’s most illustrious man of peace should be contemporary with her greatest writer on war.

The Text of Sun Tzǔ

I have found it difficult to glean much about the history of Sun Tzǔ’s text. The quotations that occur in early authors go to show that the “13 chapters” of which Ssǔ-ma Chʽien speaks were essentially the same as those now extant. We have his word for it that they were widely circulated in his day, and can only regret that he refrained from discussing them on that account.80 Sun Hsing-yen says in his preface:⁠—

During the Chʽin and Han dynasties Sun Tzǔ’s Art of War was in general use amongst military commanders, but they seem to have treated it as a work of mysterious import, and were unwilling to expound it for the benefit of posterity. Thus it came about that Wei Wu was the first to write a commentary on it.81

As we have already seen, there is no reasonable ground to suppose that Tsʽao Kung tampered with the text. But the text itself is often so obscure, and the number of editions which appeared from that time onward so great, especially during the Tʽang and Sung dynasties, that it would be surprising if numerous corruptions had not managed to creep in. Towards the middle of the Sung period, by which time all the chief commentaries on Sun Tzǔ were in existence, a certain 吉天保 Chi Tʽien-pao published a work in 15 chüan entitled 十家孫子會注 Sun Tzǔ with the collected commentaries of ten writers.82 There was another text, with variant readings put forward by Chu Fu of 大興 Ta-hsing,83 which also had supporters among the scholars of that period; but in the Ming editions, Sun Hsing-yen tells us, these readings were for some reason or other no longer put into circulation.84 Thus, until the end of the 18th century, the text in sole possession of the field was one derived from Chi Tʽien-pao’s edition, although no actual copy of that important work was known to have survived. That, therefore, is the text of Sun Tzǔ which appears in the War section of the great Imperial encyclopedia printed in 1726, the 古今圖書集成 Ku Chin Tʽu Shu Chi Chʽêng. Another copy at my disposal of what is practically the same text, with slight variations, is that contained in the 周秦十一子 Eleven philosophers of the Chou and Chʽin dynasties (1758). And the Chinese printed in Capt. Calthrop’s first edition is evidently a similar version which has filtered through Japanese channels. So things remained until 孫星衍 Sun Hsing-yen (1752⁠–⁠1818), a distinguished antiquarian and classical scholar,85 who claimed to be an actual descendant of Sun Wu,86 accidentally discovered a copy of Chi Tʽien-pao’s long-lost work, when on a visit to the library of the 華陰 Hua-yin temple.87 Appended to it was the 遺說 I Shuo of 鄭友賢Chêng Yu-hsien, mentioned in the Tʽung Chih, and also believed to have perished.88 This is what Sun Hsing-yen designates as the 古本 or 原本 “original edition (or text)”⁠—a rather misleading name, for it cannot by any means claim to set before us the text of Sun Tzǔ in its pristine purity. Chi Tʽien-pao was a careless compiler,89 and appears to have been content to reproduce the somewhat debased version current in his day, without troubling to collate it with the earliest editions then available. Fortunately, two versions of Sun Tzǔ, even older than the newly discovered work, were still extant, one buried in the Tʽung Tien, Tu Yu’s great treatise on the Constitution, the other similarly enshrined in the Tʽai Pʽing Yü Lan encyclopedia. In both the complete text is to be found, though split up into fragments, intermixed with other matter, and scattered piecemeal over a number of different sections. Considering that the Yü Lan takes us back to the year 983, and the Tʽung Tien about 200 years further still, to the middle of the Tʽang dynasty, the value of these early transcripts of Sun Tzǔ can hardly be overestimated. Yet the idea of utilizing them does not seem to have occurred to anyone until Sun Hsing-yen, acting under Government instructions, undertook a thorough recension of the text. This is his own account:⁠—

Because of the numerous mistakes in the text of Sun Tzǔ which his editors had handed down, the Government ordered that the ancient edition [of Chi Tʽien-pao] should be used, and that the text should be revised and corrected throughout. It happened that Wu Nien-hu, the Governor Pi Kua, and Hsi, a graduate of the second degree, had all devoted themselves to this study, probably surpassing me therein. Accordingly, I have had the whole work cut on blocks as a textbook for military men.90

The three individuals here referred to had evidently been occupied on the text of Sun Tzǔ prior to Sun Hsing-yen’s commission, but we are left in doubt as to the work they really accomplished. At any rate, the new edition, when ultimately produced, appeared in the names of Sun Hsing-yen and only one co-editor 吳人驥 Wu Jên-shi. They took the “original edition” as their basis, and by careful comparison with older versions, as well as the extant commentaries and other sources of information such as the I Shuo, succeeded in restoring a very large number of doubtful passages, and turned out, on the whole, what must be accepted as the closest approximation we are ever likely to get to Sun Tzǔ’s original work. This is what will hereafter be denominated the “standard text.”

The copy which I have used belongs to a reissue dated 1877. It is in 6 pên, forming part of a well-printed set of 23 early philosophical works in 83 pên.91 It opens with a preface by Sun Hsing-yen (largely quoted in this introduction), vindicating the traditional view of Sun Tzǔ’s life and performances, and summing up in remarkably concise fashion the evidence in its favor. This is followed by Tsʽao Kung’s preface to his edition, and the biography of Sun Tzǔ from the Shih Chi, both translated above. Then come, firstly, Chêng Yu-hsien’s I Shuo,92 with author’s preface, and next, a short miscellany of historical and bibliographical information entitled 孫子敘錄 Sun Tzǔ Hsü Lu, compiled by 畢以珣 Pi I-hsün. As regards the body of the work, each separate sentence is followed by a note on the text, if required, and then by the various commentaries appertaining to it, arranged in chronological order. These we shall now proceed to discuss briefly, one by one.

The Commentators

Sun Tzǔ can boast an exceptionally long distinguished roll of commentators, which would do honor to any classic. 歐陽修 Ou-yang Hsiu remarks on this fact, though he wrote before the tale was complete, and rather ingeniously explains it by saying that the artifices of war, being inexhaustible, must therefore be susceptible of treatment in a great variety of ways.93

  1. 曹操 Tsʽao Tsʽao or 曹公 Tsʽao Kung, afterwards known as 魏武帝 Wei Wu Ti (AD 155⁠–⁠220). There is hardly any room for doubt that the earliest commentary on Sun Tzǔ actually came from the pen of this extraordinary man, whose biography in the San Kuo Chih94 reads like a romance. One of the greatest military geniuses that the world has seen, and Napoleonic in the scale of his operations, he was especially famed for the marvelous rapidity of his marches, which has found expression in the line 說曹操曹操就到 “Talk of Tsʽao Tsʽao, and Tsʽao Tsʽao will appear.” Ou-yang Hsiu says of him that he was a great captain who “measured his strength against Tung Cho, Lü Pu and the two Yüan, father and son, and vanquished them all; whereupon he divided the Empire of Han with Wu and Shu, and made himself king. It is recorded that whenever a council of war was held by Wei on the eve of a far-reaching campaign, he had all his calculations ready; those generals who made use of them did not lose one battle in ten; those who ran counter to them in any particular saw their armies incontinently beaten and put to flight.”95 Tsʽao Kung’s notes on Sun Tzǔ, models of austere brevity, are so thoroughly characteristic of the stern commander known to history, that it is hard indeed to conceive of them as the work of a mere littérateur. Sometimes, indeed, owing to extreme compression, they are scarcely intelligible and stand no less in need of a commentary than the text itself.96 As we have seen, Tsʽao Kung is the reputed author of the 新書, a book of war in 100,000 odd words, now lost, but mentioned in the 魏志.97

  2. 孟氏 Mêng Shih. The commentary which has come down to us under this name is comparatively meager, and nothing about the author is known. Even his personal name has not been recorded. Chi Tʽien-pao’s edition places him after Chia Lin, and 鼂公武 Chʽao Kung-wu also assigns him to the Tʽang dynasty,98 but this is a mistake, as his work is mentioned in the 隋書經籍志. In Sun Hsing-yen’s preface, he appears as Mêng Shih of the Liang dynasty (502⁠–⁠557). Others would identify him with 孟康 Mêng Kʽang of the 3rd century. In the 宋史藝文志,99 he is named in one work as the last of the 五家 “Five Commentators,” the others being Wei Wu Ti, Tu Mu, Chʽên Hao and Chia Lin.

  3. 李筌 Li Chʽüan of the 8th century was a well-known writer on military tactics. His 太白陰經 has been in constant use down to the present day. The 通志 mentions 閫外春秋 (lives of famous generals from the Chou to the Tʽang dynasty) as written by him.100 He is also generally supposed to be the real author of the popular Taoist tract, the 陰符經. According to Chʽao Kung-wu and the Tʽien-i-ko catalogue,101 he followed the 太乙遁甲 text of Sun Tzǔ which differs considerably from those now extant. His notes are mostly short and to the point, and he frequently illustrates his remarks by anecdotes from Chinese history.

  4. 杜佑 Tu Yu (died 812) did not publish a separate commentary on Sun Tzǔ, his notes being taken from the Tʽung Tien, the encyclopedic treatise on the Constitution which was his lifework. They are largely repetitions of Tsʽao Kung and Mêng Shih, besides which it is believed that he drew on the ancient commentaries of 王凌 Wang Ling and others. Owing to the peculiar arrangement of Tʽung Tien, he has to explain each passage on its merits, apart from the context, and sometimes his own explanation does not agree with that of Tsʽao Kung, whom he always quotes first. Though not strictly to be reckoned as one of the “Ten Commentators,” he was added to their number by Chi Tʽien-pao, being wrongly placed after his grandson Tu Mu.

  5. 杜牧 Tu Mu (803⁠–⁠852) is perhaps the best known as a poet⁠—a bright star even in the glorious galaxy of the Tʽang period. We learn from Chʽao Kung-wu that although he had no practical experience of war, he was extremely fond of discussing the subject, and was moreover well read in the military history of the Chʽun Chʽiu and Chan Kuo eras.102 His notes, therefore, are well worth attention. They are very copious, and replete with historical parallels. The gist of Sun Tzǔ’s work is thus summarized by him: “Practice benevolence and justice, but on the other hand make full use of artifice and measures of expediency.”103 He further declared that all the military triumphs and disasters of the thousand years which had elapsed since Sun Wu’s death would, upon examination, be found to uphold and corroborate, in every particular, the maxims contained in his book.104 Tu Mu’s somewhat spiteful charge against Tsʽao Kung has already been considered elsewhere.

  6. 陳皡 Chʽên Hao appears to have been a contemporary of Tu Mu. Chʽao Kung-wu says that he was impelled to write a new commentary on Sun Tzǔ because Tsʽao Kung’s on the one hand was too obscure and subtle, and that of Tu Mu on the other too long-winded and diffuse.105 Ou-yang Hsiu, writing in the middle of the 11th century, calls Tsʽao Kung, Tu Mu and Chʽên Hao the three chief commentators on Sun Tzǔ (三家), and observes that Chʽên Hao is continually attacking Tu Mu’s shortcomings. His commentary, though not lacking in merit, must rank below those of his predecessors.

  7. 賈林 Chia Lin is known to have lived under the Tʽang dynasty, for his commentary on Sun Tzǔ is mentioned in the 唐書 and was afterwards republished by 紀燮 Chi Hsieh of the same dynasty together with those of Mêng Shih and Tu Yu.106 It is of somewhat scanty texture, and in point of quality, too, perhaps the least valuable of the eleven.

  8. 梅堯臣 Mei Yao-chʽên (1002⁠–⁠1060), commonly known by his “style” as Mei 聖兪 Shêng-yü, was, like Tu Mu, a poet of distinction. His commentary was published with a laudatory preface by the great Ou-yang Hsiu, from which we may cull the following:⁠—

    Later scholars have misread Sun Tzǔ, distorting his words and trying to make them square with their own one-sided views. Thus, though commentators have not been lacking, only a few have proved equal to the task. My friend Shêng-yü has not fallen into this mistake. In attempting to provide a critical commentary for Sun Tzǔ’s work, he does not lose sight of the fact that these sayings were intended for states engaged in internecine warfare; that the author is not concerned with the military conditions prevailing under the sovereigns of the three ancient dynasties,107 nor with the nine punitive measures prescribed to the Minister of War.108 Again, Sun Wu loved brevity of diction, but his meaning is always deep. Whether the subject be marching an army, or handling soldiers, or estimating the enemy, or controlling the forces of victory, it is always systematically treated; the sayings are bound together in strict logical sequence, though this has been obscured by commentators who have probably failed to grasp their meaning. In his own commentary, Mei Shêng-yü has brushed aside all the obstinate prejudices of these critics, and has tried to bring out the true meaning of Sun Tzǔ himself. In this way, the clouds of confusion have been dispersed and the sayings made clear. I am convinced that the present work deserves to be handed down side by side with the three great commentaries; and for a great deal that they find in the sayings, coming generations will have constant reason to thank my friend Shêng-yü.109

    Making some allowance for the exuberance of friendship, I am inclined to endorse this favourable judgment, and would certainly place him above Chʽên Hao in order of merit.

  9. 王皙 Wang Hsi, also of the Sung dynasty, is decidedly original in some of his interpretations, but much less judicious than Mei Yao-chʽên, and on the whole not a very trustworthy guide. He is fond of comparing his own commentary with that of Tsʽao Kung, but the comparison is not often flattering to him. We learn from Chʽao Kung-wu that Wang Hsi revised the ancient text of Sun Tzǔ, filling up lacunae and correcting mistakes.110

  10. 何延錫 Ho Yen-hsi of the Sung dynasty. The personal name of this commentator is given as above by 鄭樵 Chêng Chʽiao in the Tʽung Chih, written about the middle of the twelfth century, but he appears simply as 何氏 Ho Shih in the Yu Hai, and Ma Tuan-lin quotes Chʽao Kung-wu as saying that his personal name is unknown. There seems to be no reason to doubt Chêng Chʽiao’s statement, otherwise I should have been inclined to hazard a guess and identify him with one 何去非 Ho Chʽü-fei, the author of a short treatise on war entitled 備論, who lived in the latter part of the 11th century.111 Ho Shih’s commentary, in the words of the Tʽien-i-ko catalogue, 有所裨益 “contains helpful additions” here and there, but is chiefly remarkable for the copious extracts taken, in adapted form, from the dynastic histories and other sources.

  11. 張預 Chang Yü. The list closes with a commentator of no great originality perhaps, but gifted with admirable powers of lucid exposition. His commentary is based on that of Tsʽao Kung, whose terse sentences he contrives to expand and develop in masterly fashion. Without Chang Yü, it is safe to say that much of Tsʽao Kung’s commentary would have remained cloaked in its pristine obscurity and therefore valueless. His work is not mentioned in the Sung history, the Tʽung Kʽao, or the Yu Hai, but it finds a niche in the Tʽung Chih, which also names him as the author of the 百將傳 Lives of Famous Generals.112

It is rather remarkable that the last-named four should all have flourished within so short a space of time. Chʽao Kung-wu accounts for it by saying: “During the early years of the Sung dynasty the Empire enjoyed a long spell of peace, and men ceased to practice the art of war. But when [Chao] Yüan-hao’s rebellion came [1038⁠–⁠42] and the frontier generals were defeated time after time, the Court made strenuous inquiry for men skilled in war, and military topics became the vogue amongst all the high officials. Hence it is that the commentators of Sun Tzǔ in our dynasty belong mainly to that period.”113

Besides these eleven commentators, there are several others whose work has not come down to us. The Sui Shu mentions four, namely 王凌 Wang Ling (often quoted by Tu Yu as 王子); 張子尚 Chang Tzǔ-shang; 賈詡 Chia Hsü of Wei;114 and 沈友 Shên Yu of Wu. The Tʽang Shu adds 孫鎬 Sun Hao, and the Tʽung Chih 蕭吉 Hsiao Chi, while the Tʽu Shu mentions a Ming commentator, 黃潤玉 Huang Jun-yü. It is possible that some of these may have been merely collectors and editors of other commentaries, like Chi Tʽien-pao and Chi Hsieh, mentioned above. Certainly in the case of the latter, the entry 紀燮注孫子 in the Tʽung Kʽao, without the following note, would give one to understand that he had written an independent commentary of his own.

There are two works, described in the Ssu Kʽu Chʽüan Shu115 and no doubt extremely rare, which I should much like to have seen. One is entitled 孫子參同, in 5 chüan. It gives selections from four new commentators, probably of the Ming dynasty, as well as from the eleven known to us. The names of the four are 解元 Hsieh Yüan; 張鏊 Chang Ao; 李村 Li Tsʽai; and 黃治徵 Huang Chih-chêng. The other work is 孫子彙徵 in 4 chüan, compiled by 鄭端 Chêng Tuan of the present dynasty. It is a compendium of information on ancient warfare, with special reference to Sun Tzǔ’s 13 chapters.

Appreciations of Sun Tzǔ

Sun Tzǔ has exercised a potent fascination over the minds of some of China’s greatest men. Among the famous generals who are known to have studied his pages with enthusiasm may be mentioned 韓信 Han Hsin (d. 196 BC),116 馮異 Fêng I (d. 34 AD),117 呂蒙 Lü Mêng (d. 219),118 and 岳飛 Yo Fei (1103⁠–⁠1141).119 The opinion of Tsʽao Kung, who disputes with Han Hsin the highest place in Chinese military annals, has already been recorded.120 Still more remarkable, in one way, is the testimony of purely literary men, such as 蘇洵 Su Hsün (the father of Su Tung-pʽo), who wrote several essays on military topics, all of which owe their chief inspiration to Sun Tzǔ. The following short passage by him is preserved in the Yu Hai:121⁠—

Sun Wu’s saying, that in war one cannot make certain of conquering,122 is very different indeed from what other books tell us.123 Wu Chʽi was a man of the same stamp as Sun Wu: they both wrote books on war, and they are linked together in popular speech as “Sun and Wu.” But Wu Chʽi’s remarks on war are less weighty, his rules are rougher and more crudely stated, and there is not the same unity of plan as in Sun Tzǔ’s work, where the style is terse, but the meaning fully brought out.124

The 性理彙要, ch. 17, contains the following extract from the 藝圃折衷 Impartial Judgments in the Garden of Literature by 鄭厚 Chêng Hou:⁠—

Sun Tzǔ’s 13 chapters are not only the staple and base of all military men’s training, but also compel the most careful attention of scholars and men of letters. His sayings are terse yet elegant, simple yet profound, perspicuous and eminently practical. Such works as the Lun Yü, the I Ching and the great Commentary,125 as well as the writings of Mencius, Hsün Kʽuang and Yang Chu, all fall below the level of Sun Tzǔ.126

Chu Hsi, commenting on this, fully admits the first part of the criticism, although he dislikes the audacious comparison with the venerated classical works. Language of this sort, he says, “encourages a ruler’s bent towards unrelenting warfare and reckless militarism.”127

Apologies for War

Accustomed as we are to think of China as the greatest peace-loving nation on earth, we are in some danger of forgetting that her experience of war in all its phases has also been such as no modern State can parallel. Her long military annals stretch back to a point at which they are lost in the mists of time. She had built the Great Wall and was maintaining a huge standing army along her frontier centuries before the first Roman legionary was seen on the Danube. What with the perpetual collisions of the ancient feudal States, the grim conflicts with Huns, Turks and other invaders after the centralization of government, the terrific upheavals which accompanied the overthrow of so many dynasties, besides the countless rebellions and minor disturbances that have flamed up and flickered out again one by one, it is hardly too much to say that the clash of arms has never ceased to resound in one portion or another of the Empire.

No less remarkable is the succession of illustrious captains to whom China can point with pride. As in all countries, the greatest are fond of emerging at the most fateful crises of her history. Thus, Po Chʽi stands out conspicuous in the period when Chʽin was entering upon her final struggle with the remaining independent states. The stormy years which followed the breakup of the Chʽin dynasty are illuminated by the transcendent genius of Han Hsin. When the House of Han in turn is tottering to its fall, the great and baleful figure of Tsʽao Tsʽao dominates the scene. And in the establishment of the Tʽang dynasty, one of the mightiest tasks achieved by man, the superhuman energy of Li Shih-min (afterwards the Emperor Tʽai Tsung) was seconded by the brilliant strategy of Li Ching. None of these generals need fear comparison with the greatest names in the military history of Europe.

In spite of all this, the great body of Chinese sentiment, from Lao Tzǔ downwards, and especially as reflected in the standard literature of Confucianism, has been consistently pacific and intensely opposed to militarism in any form. It is such an uncommon thing to find any of the literati defending warfare on principle, that I have thought it worth while to collect and translate a few passages in which the unorthodox view is upheld. The following, by Ssǔ-ma Chʽien, shows that for all his ardent admiration of Confucius, he was yet no advocate of peace at any price:⁠—

Military weapons are the means used by the Sage to punish violence and cruelty, to give peace to troublous times, to remove difficulties and dangers, and to succor those who are in peril. Every animal with blood in its veins and horns on its head will fight when it is attacked. How much more so will man, who carries in his breast the faculties of love and hatred, joy and anger! When he is pleased, a feeling of affection springs up within him; when angry, his poisoned sting is brought into play. That is the natural law which governs his being.⁠ ⁠… What then shall be said of those scholars of our time, blind to all great issues, and without any appreciation of relative values, who can only bark out their stale formulas about “virtue” and “civilization,” condemning the use of military weapons? They will surely bring our country to impotence and dishonor and the loss of her rightful heritage; or, at the very least, they will bring about invasion and rebellion, sacrifice of territory and general enfeeblement. Yet they obstinately refuse to modify the position they have taken up. The truth is that, just as in the family the teacher must not spare the rod, and punishments cannot be dispensed with in the State, so military chastisement can never be allowed to fall into abeyance in the Empire. All one can say is that this power will be exercised wisely by some, foolishly by others, and that among those who bear arms some will be loyal and others rebellious.128

The next piece is taken from Tu Mu’s preface to his commentary on Sun Tzǔ:⁠—

War may be defined as punishment, which is one of the functions of government. It was the profession of Chung Yu and Jan Chʽiu, both disciples of Confucius. Nowadays, the holding of trials and hearing of litigation, the imprisonment of offenders and their execution by flogging in the marketplace, are all done by officials. But the wielding of huge armies, the throwing down of fortified cities, the hauling of women and children into captivity, and the beheading of traitors⁠—this is also work which is done by officials. The objects of the rack129 and of military weapons are essentially the same. There is no intrinsic difference between the punishment of flogging and cutting off heads in war. For the lesser infractions of law, which are easily dealt with, only a small amount of force need be employed: hence the use of military weapons and wholesale decapitation. In both cases, however, the end in view is to get rid of wicked people, and to give comfort and relief to the good130⁠ ⁠…

Chi-sun asked Jan Yu, saying: “Have you, Sir, acquired your military aptitude by study, or is it innate?” Jan Yu replied: “It has been acquired by study.”131 “How can that be so,” said Chi-sun, “seeing that you are a disciple of Confucius?” “It is a fact,” replied Jan Yu; “I was taught by Confucius. It is fitting that the great Sage should exercise both civil and military functions, though to be sure my instruction in the art of fighting has not yet gone very far.”

Now, who the author was of this rigid distinction between the “civil” and the “military,” and the limitation of each to a separate sphere of action, or in what year of which dynasty it was first introduced, is more than I can say. But, at any rate, it has come about that the members of the governing class are quite afraid of enlarging on military topics, or do so only in a shamefaced manner. If any are bold enough to discuss the subject, they are at once set down as eccentric individuals of coarse and brutal propensities. This is an extraordinary instance in which, through sheer lack of reasoning, men unhappily lose sight of fundamental principles.132

When the Duke of Chou was minister under Chʽêng Wang, he regulated ceremonies and made music, and venerated the arts of scholarship and learning; yet when the barbarians of the River Huai revolted,133 he sallied forth and chastised them. When Confucius held office under the Duke of Lu, and a meeting was convened at Chia-ku,134 he said: “If pacific negotiations are in progress, warlike preparations should have been made beforehand.” He rebuked and shamed the Marquis of Chʽi, who cowered under him and dared not proceed to violence. How can it be said that these two great Sages had no knowledge of military matters?135

We have seen that the great Chu Hsi held Sun Tzǔ in high esteem. He also appeals to the authority of the Classics:⁠—

Our Master Confucius, answering Duke Ling of Wei, said: “I have never studied matters connected with armies and battalions.”136 Replying to Kʽung Wên-tzǔ, he said: “I have not been instructed about buff-coats and weapons.”137 But if we turn to the meeting at Chia-ku,138 we find that he used armed force against the men of Lai,139 so that the marquis of Chʽi was overawed. Again, when the inhabitants of Pi revolted; he ordered his officers to attack them, whereupon they were defeated and fled in confusion.140 He once uttered the words: “If I fight, I conquer.”141 And Jan Yu also said: “The Sage exercises both civil and military functions.”142 Can it be a fact that Confucius never studied or received instruction in the art of war? We can only say that he did not specially choose matters connected with armies and fighting to be the subject of his teaching.143

Sun Hsing-yen, the editor of Sun Tzǔ, writes in similar strain:⁠—

Confucius said: “I am unversed in military matters.”144 He also said: “If I fight, I conquer.”144 Confucius ordered ceremonies and regulated music. Now war constitutes one of the five classes of State ceremonial,145 and must not be treated as an independent branch of study. Hence, the words “I am unversed in” must be taken to mean that there are things which even an inspired Teacher does not know. Those who have to lead an army and devise stratagems, must learn the art of war. But if one can command the services of a good general like Sun Tzǔ, who was employed by Wu Tzǔ-hsü, there is no need to learn it oneself. Hence the remark added by Confucius: “If I fight, I conquer.”146

The men of the present day, however, willfully interpret these words of Confucius in their narrowest sense, as though he meant that books on the art of war were not worth reading. With blind persistency, they adduce the example of Chao Kua, who pored over his father’s books to no purpose,147 as a proof that all military theory is useless. Again, seeing that books on war have to do with such things as opportunism in designing plans, and the conversion of spies, they hold that the art is immoral and unworthy of a sage. These people ignore the fact that the studies of our scholars and the civil administration of our officials also require steady application and practice before efficiency is reached. The ancients were particularly chary of allowing mere novices to botch their work.148 Weapons are baneful149 and fighting perilous; and unless a general is in constant practice, he ought not to hazard other men’s lives in battle.150 Hence it is essential that Sun Tzǔ’s 13 chapters should be studied.151

Hsiang Liang used to instruct his nephew Chi152 in the art of war. Chi got a rough idea of the art in its general bearings, but would not pursue his studies to their proper outcome, the consequence being that he was finally defeated and overthrown. He did not realize that the tricks and artifices of war are beyond verbal computation. Duke Hsiang of Sung153 and King Yen of Hsü154 were brought to destruction by their misplaced humanity. The treacherous and underhand nature of war necessitates the use of guile and stratagem suited to the occasion. There is a case on record of Confucius himself having violated an extorted oath,155 and also of his having left the Sung State in disguise.156 Can we then recklessly arraign Sun Tzǔ for disregarding truth and honesty?157


The following are the oldest Chinese treatises on war, after Sun Tzǔ. The notes on each have been drawn principally from the 西庫全書簡明目錄 Ssǔ kʽu chʽüan shu chien ming mu lu, ch. 9, fol. 22 sqq.

  1. 吳子 Wu Tzǔ, in 1 chüan or 6 chapters. By 吳起 Wu Chʽi (d. 381 BC). A genuine work. See Shih Chi, ch. 65.

  2. 司馬法 Ssǔ-ma Fa, in 1 chüan or 5 chapters. Wrongly attributed to 司馬穰苴 Ssǔ-ma Jang-chü of the 6th century BC. Its date, however, must be early, as the customs of the three ancient dynasties are constantly to be met within its pages.158 See Shih Chi, ch. 64.

    The Ssǔ Kʽu Chʽüan Shu (ch. 99, f. 1) remarks that the oldest three treatises on war, Sun Tzǔ, Wu Tzǔ and Ssǔ-ma Fa, are, generally speaking, only concerned with things strictly military⁠—the art of producing, collecting, training and drilling troops, and the correct theory with regard to measures of expediency, laying plans, transport of goods and the handling of soldiers159⁠—in strong contrast to later works, in which the science of war is usually blended with metaphysics, divination and magical arts in general.

  3. 六韜 Liu Tʽao, in 6 chüan, or 60 chapters. Attributed to 呂望 Lü Wang (or Shang, also known as 太公 Tʽai Kung) of the 12th century BC.160 But its style does not belong to the era of the Three Dynasties.161 陸德明 Lu Tê-ming (550⁠–⁠625 AD) mentions the work, and enumerates the headings of the six sections, , , , , and , so that the forgery cannot have been later than Sui dynasty.

  4. 尉繚子 Wei Liao Tzǔ, in 5 chüan. Attributed to Wei Liao (4th cent. BC), who studied under the famous 鬼谷子 Kuei-ku Tzǔ. The 漢志, under 兵家, mentions a book of Wei Liao in 31 chapters, whereas the text we possess contains only 24. Its matter is sound enough in the main, though the strategical devices differ considerably from those of the Warring States period.162 It is been furnished with a commentary by the well-known Sung philosopher 張載 Chang Tsai.

  5. 三略 San Lüeh in 3 chüan. Attributed to 黃石公 Huang-shih Kung, a legendary personage who is said to have bestowed it on Chang Liang (d. 187 BC) in an interview on a bridge.163 But here again, the style is not that of works dating from the Chʽin or Han period. The Han Emperor Kuang Wu (25⁠–⁠57 AD) apparently quotes from it in one of his proclamations; but the passage in question may have been inserted later on, in order to prove the genuineness of the work. We shall not be far out if we refer it to the Northern Sung period (420⁠–⁠478 AD), or somewhat earlier.164

  6. 李衛公問對 Li Wei Kung Wên Tui, in 3 sections. Written in the form of a dialogue between Tʽai Tsung and his great general 李靖 Li Ching, it is usually ascribed to the latter. Competent authorities consider it a forgery, though the author was evidently well versed in the art of war.165

  7. 李靖兵法 Li Ching Ping Fa (not to be confounded with the foregoing) is a short treatise in 8 chapters, preserved in the Tʽung Tien, but not published separately. This fact explains its omission from the Ssǔ Kʽu Chʽüan Shu.

  8. 握奇經 Wu Chʽi Ching,166 in 1 chüan. Attributed to the legendary minister 風后 Fêng Hou, with exegetical notes by 公孫宏 Kung-sun Hung of the Han dynasty (d. 121 BC), and said to have been eulogized by the celebrated general 馬隆 Ma Lung (d. 300 AD). Yet the earliest mention of it is in the 宋志. Although a forgery, the work is well put together.167

Considering the high popular estimation in which 諸葛亮 Chu-ko Liang has always been held, it is not surprising to find more than one work on war ascribed to his pen. Such are (1) the 十六策 Shih Liu Tsʽê (1 chüan), preserved in the 永樂大典 Yung Lo Ta Tien; (2) 將苑 Chiang Yüan (1 chüan); and (3) 心書 Hsin Shu (1 chüan), which steals wholesale from Sun Tzǔ. None of these has the slightest claim to be considered genuine.

Most of the large Chinese encyclopedias contain extensive sections devoted to the literature of war. The following references may be found useful:⁠—

通典 Tʽung Tien (circa 800 AD), ch. 148⁠–⁠162

太平御覧 Tʽai Pʽing Yu Lan (983), ch. 270⁠–⁠35.

文獻通考 Wen Hsien Tung Kʽao (13th cent.), ch. 221.

玉海 Yu Hai (13th cent.), ch. 140, 141.

三才圖會 San Tsʽai Tʽu Hui (16th cent), 人事 ch. 7, 8.

廣博物志 Kuang Po Wu Chih (1607), ch. 31, 32.

潛確類書 Chʽien Chʽüeh Lei Shu (1632), ch. 75.

淵鑑類函 Yüan Chien Lei Han (1710), ch. 206⁠–⁠229

古今圖書集成 Ku Chin Tʽu Shu Chi Chʽeng (1726), section XXX, esp. ch. 81⁠–⁠90

續文獻通考 Hsu Wen Hsien Tʽung Kʽao (1784), ch. 121⁠–⁠134

皇朝經世文編 Huang Chʽao Ching Shih Wen Pien (1826), ch. 76, 77.

The bibliographical sections of certain historical works also deserve mention:⁠—

前漢書 Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 30.

隋書 Sui Shu, ch. 32⁠–⁠35

舊唐書 Chiu Tʽang Shu, ch. 46, 47.

新唐書 Hsin Tʽang Shu, ch. 57,60.

宋史 Sung Shih, ch. 202⁠–⁠209

通志 Tʽung Chih (circa 1150), ch. 68.

To these of course must be added the great Catalogue of the Imperial Library:⁠—

四庫全書總目提要 Ssǔ Kʽu Chʽüan Shu Tsung Mu Tʽi Yao (1790), ch. 99, 100.

The Art of War


Laying Plans168

Sun Tzǔ said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.169

These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.170

The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.171

Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.172

Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.173

The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.174

By Method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.175

These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:⁠—176

  1. Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?177

  2. Which of the two generals has most ability?

  3. With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?178

  4. On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?179

  5. Which army is stronger?180

  6. On which side are officers and men more highly trained?181

  7. In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?182

By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.

The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer:⁠—let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:⁠—let such a one be dismissed!183

While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules.184

According as circumstances are favourable, one should modify one’s plans.185

All warfare is based on deception.186

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.187

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.188

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.189

If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.190 If his forces are united, separate them.191

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.192

Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.193 The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.


Waging War194

Sun Tzǔ said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers,195 with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li,196 the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day.197 Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.198

When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.199 If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.200

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.201

Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.202

Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.203

There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.204

It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.205

The skilful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.206

Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have food enough for its needs.207

Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance. Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.208

On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up; and high prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away.209

When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.210

With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated;211 while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breastplates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.212

Hence a wise general makes a point of foraging on the enemy. One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to twenty of one’s own, and likewise a single picul of his provender is equivalent to twenty from one’s own store.213

Now in order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger; that there may be advantage from defeating the enemy, they must have their rewards.214

Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first.215 Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.

In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.216

Thus it may be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.217


Attack by Stratagem

Sun Tzǔ said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.218

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.219

Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy’s plans;220 the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces;221 the next in order is to attack the enemy’s army in the field;222 and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.223

The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.224 The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months;225 and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more.226

The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants,227 with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.228

Therefore the skilful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.229

With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete.230 This is the method of attacking by stratagem.

It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy’s one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him;231 if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.232

If equally matched, we can offer battle;233 if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy;234 if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.

Hence, though an obstinate fight may be made by a small force, in the end it must be captured by the larger force.235

Now the general is the bulwark of the State; if the bulwark is complete at all points; the State will be strong; if the bulwark is defective, the State will be weak.236

There are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:⁠—

  1. By commanding the army to advance or to retreat, being ignorant of the fact that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army.237

  2. By attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom, being ignorant of the conditions which obtain in an army. This causes restlessness in the soldier’s minds.238

  3. By employing the officers of his army without discrimination,239 through ignorance of the military principle of adaptation to circumstances. This shakes the confidence of the soldiers.240

But when the army is restless and distrustful, trouble is sure to come from the other feudal princes. This is simply bringing anarchy into the army, and flinging victory away.241

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:

  1. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.242

  2. He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.243

  3. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.244

  4. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.

  5. He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.245

Victory lies in the knowledge of these five points.246

Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.247 If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.248


Tactical Dispositions249

Sun Tzǔ said: The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.250

Thus the good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat,251 but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.252

Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.253

Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.254

Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.

The general who is skilled in defence hides in the most secret recesses of the earth;255 he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven.256 Thus on the one hand we have ability to protect ourselves; on the other, a victory that is complete.257

To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.258

Neither is it the acme of excellence if you fight and conquer and the whole Empire says, “Well done!”259

To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength;260 to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.261

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.262

Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.263

He wins his battles by making no mistakes.264 Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.265

Hence the skilful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.266

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.267

The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline;268 thus it is in his power to control success.

In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory.

Measurement owes its existence to Earth; Estimation of quantity to Measurement; Calculation to Estimation of quantity; Balancing of chances to Calculation; and Victory to Balancing of chances.269

A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as a pound’s weight placed in the scale against a single grain.270

The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.271



Sun Tzǔ said: The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.273

Fighting with a large army under your command is nowise different from fighting with a small one: it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.274

To ensure that your whole host may withstand the brunt of the enemy’s attack and remain unshaken⁠—this is effected by manoeuvres direct and indirect.275

That the impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg⁠—this is effected by the science of weak points and strong.276

In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.277

Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams;278 like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.279

There are not more than five musical notes,280 yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than five primary colors,281 yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

There are not more than five cardinal tastes,282 yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.

In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack⁠—the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of manoeuvres.

The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle⁠—you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?283

The onset of troops is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course.

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.284

Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision.285

Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.286

Amid the turmoil and tumult of battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.287

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.288

Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision;289 concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy;290 masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.291

Thus one who is skilful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act.292 He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.293

By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him.294

The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.295 Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy.296

When he utilizes combined energy, his fighting men become as it were like unto rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped, to go rolling down.297

Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height. So much on the subject of energy.298


Weak Points and Strong299

Sun Tzǔ said: Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.300

Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.301

By holding out advantages to him, he can cause the enemy to approach of his own accord; or, by inflicting damage, he can make it impossible for the enemy to draw near.302

If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him;303 if well supplied with food, he can starve him out;304 if quietly encamped, he can force him to move.305

Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.306

An army may march great distances without distress, if it marches through country where the enemy is not.307

You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.308 You can ensure the safety of your defence if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.309

Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defence whose opponent does not know what to attack.310

O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible;311 and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.312

You may advance and be absolutely irresistible, if you make for the enemy’s weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.313

If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. All we need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve.314

If we do not wish to fight, we can prevent the enemy from engaging us even though the lines of our encampment be merely traced out on the ground. All we need do is to throw something odd and unaccountable in his way.315

By discovering the enemy’s dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy’s must be divided.316

We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole,317 which means that we shall be many to the enemy’s few.

And if we are able thus to attack an inferior force with a superior one, our opponents will be in dire straits.318

The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points;319 and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.

For should the enemy strengthen his van, he will weaken his rear; should he strengthen his rear, he will weaken his van; should he strengthen his left, he will weaken his right; should he strengthen his right, he will weaken his left. If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.320

Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.321

Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle, we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight.322

But if neither time nor place be known, then the left wing will be impotent to succor the right, the right equally impotent to succor the left, the van unable to relieve the rear, or the rear to support the van. How much more so if the furthest portions of the army are anything under a hundred li apart, and even the nearest are separated by several li!323

Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yüeh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory.324 I say then that victory can be achieved.325

Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting.326 Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success.327

Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity.328 Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.329

Carefully compare the opposing army with your own,330 so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.331

In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them;332 conceal your dispositions, and you will be safe from the prying of the subtlest spies, from the machinations of the wisest brains.333

How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics⁠—that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.334

All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.335

Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.336

Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.337

So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.338

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows;339 the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.

Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.

He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.

The five elements340 are not always equally predominant;341 the four seasons make way for each other in turn.342 There are short days and long; the moon has its periods of waning and waxing.343



Sun Tzǔ said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign.345

Having collected an army and concentrated his forces, he must blend and harmonize the different elements thereof before pitching his camp.346

After that, comes tactical manoeuvring, than which there is nothing more difficult.347 The difficulty of tactical manoeuvring consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.348

Thus, to take a long and circuitous route, after enticing the enemy out of the way, and though starting after him, to contrive to reach the goal before him, shows knowledge of the artifice of deviation.349

Manoeuvring with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.350

If you set a fully equipped army in march in order to snatch an advantage, the chances are that you will be too late.351 On the other hand, to detach a flying column for the purpose involves the sacrifice of its baggage and stores.352

Thus, if you order your men to roll up their buff-coats,353 and make forced marches without halting day or night, covering double the usual distance at a stretch,354 doing a hundred li in order to wrest an advantage, the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into the hands of the enemy.

The stronger men will be in front, the jaded ones will fall behind, and on this plan only one-tenth of your army will reach its destination.355

If you march fifty li in order to outmanoeuvre the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division, and only half your force will reach the goal.356

If you march thirty li with the same object, two-thirds of your army will arrive.357

We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost; without provisions it is lost; without bases of supply it is lost.358

We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.359

We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country⁠—its mountains and forests, its pitfalls360 and precipices,361 its marshes362 and swamps.363

We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides.364

In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed.365 Move only if there is a real advantage to be gained.366

Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops, must be decided by circumstances.

Let your rapidity be that of the wind,367 your compactness that of the forest.368

In raiding and plundering be like fire,369 in immovability like a mountain.370

Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.371

When you plunder a countryside, let the spoil be divided amongst your men;372 when you capture new territory, cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery.373

Ponder and deliberate374 before you make a move.375

He will conquer who has learnt the artifice of deviation.376 Such is the art of manoeuvring.377

The Book of Army Management says:378 On the field of battle,379 the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums.380 Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.

Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host381 may be focused on one particular point.382

The host thus forming a single united body, is it impossible either for the brave to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone.383 This is the art of handling large masses of men.

In night-fighting, then, make much use of signal-fires and drums, and in fighting by day, of flags and banners, as a means of influencing the ears and eyes of your army.384

A whole army may be robbed of its spirit;385 a commander-in-chief may be robbed of his presence of mind.386

Now a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning;387 by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp.

A clever general, therefore,388 avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods.389

Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy:⁠—this is the art of retaining self-possession.

To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease390 while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished:⁠—this is the art of husbanding one’s strength.

To refrain from intercepting391 an enemy whose banners are in perfect order, to refrain from attacking an army drawn up in calm and confident array:392⁠—this is the art of studying circumstances.393

It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill.394

Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight; do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen.

Do not swallow bait offered by the enemy.395 Do not interfere with an army that is returning home.396

When you surround an army, leave an outlet free.397 Do not press a desperate foe too hard.398

Such is the art of warfare.399


Variation of Tactics400

Sun Tzǔ said: In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign, collects his army and concentrates his forces.401

When in difficult country, do not encamp.402 In country where high roads intersect, join hands with your allies.403 Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions.404 In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem.405 In a desperate position, you must fight.406

There are roads which must not be followed,407 armies which must not be attacked,408 towns409 which must not be besieged,410 positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.411

The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops.412

The general who does not understand these, may be well acquainted with the configuration of the country, yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.413

So, the student of war who is unversed in the art of varying his plans, even though he be acquainted with the Five Advantages, will fail to make the best use of his men.414

Hence in the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.415

If our expectation of advantage be tempered in this way, we may succeed in accomplishing the essential part of our schemes.416

If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.417

Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them;418 and make trouble for them,419 and keep them constantly engaged;420 hold out specious allurements, and make them rush to any given point.421

The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him;422 not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.423

There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:

  1. Recklessness, which leads to destruction;424

  2. cowardice, which leads to capture;425

  3. a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;426

  4. a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;427

  5. over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.428

These are the five besetting sins of a general, ruinous to the conduct of war.

When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangerous faults. Let them be a subject of meditation.


The Army on the March429

Sun Tzǔ said: We come now to the question of encamping the army, and observing signs of the enemy.430 Pass quickly over mountains,431 and keep in the neighborhood of valleys.432

Camp in high places,433 facing the sun.434 Do not climb heights in order to fight.435 So much for mountain warfare.436

After crossing a river, you should get far away from it.437

When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in midstream. It will be best to let half the army get across, and then deliver your attack.438

If you are anxious to fight, you should not go to meet the invader near a river which he has to cross.439

Moor your craft higher up than the enemy, and facing the sun.440 Do not move upstream to meet the enemy.441 So much for river warfare.

In crossing salt-marshes, your sole concern should be to get over them quickly, without any delay.442

If forced to fight in a salt-marsh, you should have water and grass near you, and get your back to a clump of trees.443 So much for operations in salt-marshes.

In dry, level country, take up an easily accessible position444 with rising ground to your right and on your rear,445 so that the danger may be in front, and safety lie behind.446 So much for campaigning in flat country.

These are the four useful branches of military knowledge447 which enabled the Yellow Emperor to vanquish four several sovereigns.448

All armies prefer high ground to low,449 and sunny places to dark.

If you are careful of your men,450 and camp on hard ground,451 the army will be free from disease of every kind,452 and this will spell victory.

When you come to a hill or a bank, occupy the sunny side, with the slope on your right rear. Thus you will at once act for the benefit of your soldiers and utilize the natural advantages of the ground.

When, in consequence of heavy rains upcountry, a river which you wish to ford is swollen and flecked with foam, you must wait until it subsides.453

Country in which there are precipitous cliffs with torrents running between,454 deep natural hollows,455 confined places,456 tangled thickets,457 quagmires458 and crevasses,459 should be left with all possible speed and not approached.

While we keep away from such places, we should get the enemy to approach them; while we face them, we should let the enemy have them on his rear.

If in the neighborhood of your camp460 there should be any hilly country,461 ponds surrounded by aquatic grass, hollow basins filled with reeds,462 or woods with thick undergrowth,463 they must be carefully routed out and searched; for these are places where men in ambush or insidious spies are likely to be lurking.464

When the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet, he is relying on the natural strength of his position.465

When he keeps aloof and tries to provoke a battle, he is anxious for the other side to advance.466

If his place of encampment is easy of access, he is tendering a bait.467

Movement amongst the trees of a forest shows that the enemy is advancing.468 The appearance of a number of screens in the midst of thick grass means that the enemy wants to make us suspicious.469

The rising of birds in their flight is the sign of an ambuscade.470 Startled beasts indicate that a sudden attack is coming.471

When there is dust rising in a high column, it is the sign of chariots advancing; when the dust is low, but spread over a wide area, it betokens the approach of infantry.472 When it branches out in different directions, it shows that parties have been sent to collect firewood.473 A few clouds of dust moving to and fro signify that the army is encamping.474

Humble words and increased preparations are signs that the enemy is about to advance.475 Violent language and driving forward as if to the attack are signs that he will retreat.476

When the light chariots477 come out first and take up a position on the wings, it is a sign that the enemy is forming for battle.478

Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot.479

When there is much running about480 and the soldiers fall into rank,481 it means that the critical moment has come.482

When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure.483

When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears, they are faint from want of food.484

If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst.485

If the enemy sees an advantage to be gained486 and makes no effort to secure it, the soldiers are exhausted.

If birds gather on any spot, it is unoccupied.487 Clamor by night betokens nervousness.488

If there is disturbance in the camp, the general’s authority is weak. If the banners and flags are shifted about, sedition is afoot.489 If the officers are angry, it means that the men are weary.490

When an army feeds its horses with grain and kills its cattle for food,491 and when the men do not hang their cooking-pots492 over the campfires,493 showing that they will not return to their tents, you may know that they are determined to fight to the death.494

The sight of men whispering together495 in small knots496 or speaking in subdued tones497 points to disaffection amongst the rank and file.498

Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources;499 too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.500

To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy’s numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.501

When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce.502

If the enemy’s troops march up angrily and remain facing ours for a long time without either joining battle or taking themselves off again, the situation is one that demands great vigilance and circumspection.503

If our troops are no more in number than the enemy, that is amply sufficient;504 it only means that no direct attack can be made.505 What we can do is simply to concentrate all our available strength, keep a close watch on the enemy, and obtain reinforcements.506

He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.507

If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, then will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.508

Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline.509 This is a certain road to victory.

If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be bad.510

If a general shows confidence in his men but always insists on his orders being obeyed,511 the gain will be mutual.512



Sun Tzǔ said: We may distinguish six kinds of terrain, to wit: (1) Accessible ground;514 (2) entangling ground;515 (3) temporizing ground;516 (4) narrow passes; (5) precipitous heights;517 (6) positions at a great distance from the enemy.518

Ground which can be freely traversed by both sides is called accessible.519

With regard to ground of this nature,520 be before the enemy in occupying the raised and sunny spots,521 and carefully guard your line of supplies.522 Then you will be able to fight with advantage.523

Ground which can be abandoned but is hard to re-occupy is called entangling.524

From a position of this sort, if the enemy is unprepared, you may sally forth and defeat him. But if the enemy is prepared for your coming, and you fail to defeat him, then, return being impossible, disaster will ensue.525

When the position is such that neither side will gain by making the first move, it is called temporizing ground.526

In a position of this sort, even though the enemy should offer us an attractive bait,527 it will be advisable not to stir forth, but rather to retreat, thus enticing the enemy in his turn; then, when part of his army has come out, we may deliver our attack with advantage.528

With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first,529 let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy.530

Should the army forestall you in occupying a pass, do not go after him if the pass is fully garrisoned, but only if it is weakly garrisoned.

With regard to precipitous heights, if you are beforehand with your adversary, you should occupy the raised and sunny spots, and there wait for him to come up.531

If the enemy has occupied them before you, do not follow him, but retreat and try to entice him away.532

If you are situated at a great distance from the enemy, and the strength of the two armies is equal,533 it is not easy to provoke a battle,534 and fighting will be to your disadvantage.

These six are the principles connected with Earth.535 The general who has attained a responsible post must be careful to study them.536

Now an army is exposed to six several calamities, not arising from natural causes,537 but from faults for which the general is responsible. These are: (1) Flight; (2) insubordination; (3) collapse; (4) ruin; (5) disorganization; (6) rout.538

Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another ten times its size, the result will be the flight of the former.539

When the common soldiers are too strong and their officers too weak, the result is insubordination.540 When the officers are too strong and the common soldiers too weak, the result is collapse.541

When the higher officers542 are angry and insubordinate, and on meeting the enemy give battle on their own account from a feeling of resentment, before the commander-in-chief can tell whether or no he is in a position to fight, the result is ruin.543

When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct;544 when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men,545 and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.

When a general, unable to estimate the enemy’s strength, allows an inferior force to engage a larger one, or hurls a weak detachment against a powerful one, and neglects to place picked soldiers in the front rank, the result must be a rout.546

These are six ways of courting defeat,547 which must be carefully noted by the general who has attained a responsible post.548

The natural formation of the country is the soldier’s best ally;549 but a power of estimating the adversary,550 of controlling the forces of victory,551 and of shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and distances,552 constitutes the test of a great general.553

He who knows these things, and in fighting puts his knowledge into practice, will win his battles. He who knows them not, nor practices them, will surely be defeated.

If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding.554

The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace,555 whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign,556 is the jewel of the kingdom.557

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.558

If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kindhearted, but unable to enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder:559 then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children; they are useless for any practical purpose.560

If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.561

If we know that the enemy is open to attack, but are unaware that our own men are not in a condition to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.562

If we know that the enemy is open to attack, and also know that our men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the nature of the ground makes fighting impracticable, we have still gone only halfway towards victory.563

Hence the experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never at a loss.564

Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt;565 if you know Heaven and know Earth,566 you may make your victory complete.567


The Nine Situations568

Sun Tzǔ said: The art of war recognizes nine varieties of ground: (1) Dispersive ground; (2) facile ground; (3) contentious ground; (4) open ground; (5) ground of intersecting highways; (6) serious ground; (7) difficult ground; (8) hemmed-in ground; (9) desperate ground.

When a chieftain is fighting in his own territory, it is dispersive ground.569

When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground.570

Ground the possession of which imports great advantage to either side, is contentious ground.571

Ground on which each side has liberty of movement is open ground.572

Ground which forms the key to three contiguous states,573 so that he who occupies it first has most of the Empire at his command,574 is a ground of intersecting highways.575

When an army has penetrated into the heart of a hostile country, leaving a number of fortified cities in its rear,576 it is serious ground.577

Mountain forests,578 rugged steeps, marshes and fens⁠—all country that is hard to traverse: this is difficult ground.579

Ground which is reached through narrow gorges, and from which we can only retire by tortuous paths, so that a small number of the enemy would suffice to crush a large body of our men: this is hemmed in ground.

Ground on which we can only be saved from destruction by fighting without delay, is desperate ground.580

On dispersive ground, therefore, fight not. On facile ground, halt not. On contentious ground, attack not.581

On open ground, do not try to block the enemy’s way.582 On the ground of intersecting highways, join hands with your allies.583

On serious ground, gather in plunder.584 In difficult ground, keep steadily on the march.585

On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem.586 On desperate ground, fight.587

Those who were called skilful leaders of old588 knew how to drive a wedge between the enemy’s front and rear;589 to prevent cooperation between his large and small divisions; to hinder the good troops from rescuing the bad,590 the officers from rallying their men.591

When the enemy’s men were scattered, they prevented them from concentrating;592 even when their forces were united, they managed to keep them in disorder.593

When it was to their advantage, they made a forward move; when otherwise, they stopped still.594

If asked how to cope with a great host of the enemy in orderly array and on the point of marching to the attack,595 I should say: “Begin by seizing something which your opponent holds dear; then he will be amenable to your will.”596

Rapidity is the essence of war:597 take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.

The following are the principles to be observed by an invading force: The further you penetrate into a country, the greater will be the solidarity of your troops, and thus the defenders will not prevail against you.

Make forays in fertile country in order to supply your army with food.598

Carefully study the well-being of your men,599 and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.600 Keep your army continually on the move,601 and devise unfathomable plans.602

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.603 If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve.604 Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.605

Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front.606 If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.

Thus, without waiting to be marshaled, the soldiers will be constantly on the qui vive;607 without waiting to be asked, they will do your will;608 without restrictions, they will be faithful;609 without giving orders, they can be trusted.610

Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts.611 Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared.612

If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.613

On the day they are ordered out to battle, your soldiers may weep,614 those sitting up bedewing their garments, and those lying down letting the tears run down their cheeks.615 But let them once be brought to bay, and they will display the courage of a Chu or a Kuei.616

The skilful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Chʽang mountains.617 Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle,618 and you will be attacked by head and tail both.

Asked if an army can be made to imitate the shuai-jan,619 I should answer, Yes. For the men of Wu and the men of Yüeh are enemies;620 yet if they are crossing a river in the same boat and are caught by a storm, they will come to each other’s assistance just as the left hand helps the right.621

Hence it is not enough to put one’s trust in the tethering of horses,622 and the burying of chariot wheels in the ground.623

The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.624

How to make the best of both strong and weak⁠—that is a question involving the proper use of ground.625

Thus the skilful general conducts his army just as though he were leading a single man, willy-nilly, by the hand.626

It is the business of a general to be quiet and thus ensure secrecy; upright and just, and thus maintain order.627

He must be able to mystify his officers and men by false reports and appearances,628 and thus keep them in total ignorance.629

By altering his arrangements and changing his plans,630 he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge.631 By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose.632

At the critical moment, the leader of an army acts like one who has climbed up a height and then kicks away the ladder behind him.633 He carries his men deep into hostile territory before he shows his hand.634

He burns his boats and breaks his cooking-pots;635 like a shepherd driving a flock of sheep, he drives his men this way and that, and none knows whither he is going.636

To muster his host and bring it into danger:⁠—this may be termed the business of the general.637

The different measures suited to the nine varieties of ground;638 the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics;639 and the fundamental laws of human nature: these are things that must most certainly be studied.

When invading hostile territory, the general principle is, that penetrating deeply brings cohesion; penetrating but a short way means dispersion.640

When you leave your own country behind, and take your army across neighborhood territory,641 you find yourself on critical ground.642 When there are means of communication643 on all four sides, the ground is one of intersecting highways.644

When you penetrate deeply into a country, it is serious ground. When you penetrate but a little way, it is facile ground.

When you have the enemy’s strongholds on your rear,645 and narrow passes in front, it is hemmed-in ground. When there is no place of refuge at all, it is desperate ground.

Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose.646 On facile ground, I would see that there is close connection between all parts of my army.647

On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear.648

On open ground, I would keep a vigilant eye on my defences.649 On ground of intersecting highways, I would consolidate my alliances.650

On serious ground, I would try to ensure a continuous stream of supplies.651 On difficult ground, I would keep pushing on along the road.652

On hemmed-in ground, I would block any way of retreat.653 On desperate ground, I would proclaim to my soldiers the hopelessness of saving their lives.654

For it is the soldier’s disposition to offer an obstinate resistance when surrounded, to fight hard when he cannot help himself, and to obey promptly when he has fallen into danger.655

We cannot enter into alliance with neighboring princes until we are acquainted with their designs. We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country⁠—its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps. We shall be unable to turn natural advantages to account unless we make use of local guides.656

To be ignorant of any one of the following four or five principles657 does not befit a warlike prince.658

When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy’s forces. He overawes his opponents,659 and their allies are prevented from joining against him.660

Hence he does not strive661 to ally himself with all and sundry,662 nor does he foster the power of other states. He carries out his own secret designs,663 keeping his antagonists in awe.664 Thus he is able to capture their cities and overthrow their kingdoms.665

Bestow rewards without regard to rule,666 issue orders667 without regard to previous arrangements;668 and you will be able to handle a whole army669 as though you had to do with but a single man.670

Confront your soldiers with the deed itself; never let them know your design.671 When the outlook is bright, bring it before their eyes; but tell them nothing when the situation is gloomy.

Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.672

For it is precisely when a force has fallen into harm’s way that is capable of striking a blow for victory.673

Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose.674

By persistently hanging on the enemy’s flank,675 we shall succeed in the long run676 in killing the commander-in-chief.677

This is called ability to accomplish a thing by sheer cunning.678

On the day that you take up your command,679 block the frontier passes,680 destroy the official tallies,681 and stop the passage of all emissaries.682

Be stern in the council-chamber,683 so that you may control the situation.684

If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.685

Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear,686 and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.687

Walk in the path defined by rule,688 and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.689

At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.690


The Attack by Fire691

Sun Tzǔ said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. The first is to burn soldiers in their camp;692 the second is to burn stores;693 the third is to burn baggage trains;694 the fourth is to burn arsenals and magazines;695 the fifth is to hurl dropping fire amongst the enemy.696

In order to carry out an attack, we must have means available;697 the material for raising fire should always be kept in readiness.698

There is a proper season for making attacks with fire, and special days for starting a conflagration.699

The proper season is when the weather is very dry; the special days are those when the moon is in the constellations of the Sieve, the Wall, the Wing or the Crossbar;700 for these four are all days of rising wind.701

In attacking with fire, one should be prepared to meet five possible developments:702

  1. When fire breaks out inside the enemy’s camp, respond at once703 with an attack from without.

  2. If there is an outbreak of fire, but the enemy’s soldiers remain quiet, bide your time and do not attack.704

  3. When the force of the flames has reached its height, follow it up with an attack, if that is practicable; if not, stay where you are.705

  4. If it is possible to make an assault with fire from without, do not wait for it to break out within, but deliver your attack at a favourable moment.706

  5. When you start a fire, be to windward of it. Do not attack from the leeward.707

A wind that rises in the daytime lasts long, but a night breeze soon falls.708

In every army, the five developments connected with fire must be known, the movements of the stars calculated, and a watch kept for the proper days.709

Hence those who use fire as an aid to the attack show intelligence;710 those who use water as an aid to the attack gain an accession of strength.711

By means of water, an enemy may be intercepted, but not robbed of all his belongings.712

Unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise; for the result is waste of time and general stagnation.713

Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead; the good general cultivates his resources.714

Move not unless you see an advantage;715 use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.716

No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.717

If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.718

Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.719

But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being;720 nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution.721 This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.722


The Use of Spies723

Sun Tzǔ said: Raising a host of a hundred thousand men and marching them great distances entails heavy loss on the people and a drain on the resources of the State. The daily expenditure will amount to a thousand ounces of silver.724 There will be commotion at home and abroad, and men will drop down exhausted on the highways.725 As many as seven hundred thousand families will be impeded in their labour.726

Hostile armies may face each other for years, striving for the victory which is decided in a single day. This being so, to remain in ignorance of the enemy’s condition simply because one grudges the outlay of a hundred ounces of silver in honors and emoluments,727 is the height of inhumanity.728

One who acts thus is no leader of men, no present help to his sovereign,729 no master of victory.730

Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.731

Now this foreknowledge cannot be elicited from spirits;732 it cannot be obtained inductively from experience,733 nor by any deductive calculation.734

Knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions can only be obtained from other men.735

Hence the use of spies, of whom there are five classes: (1) Local spies; (2) inward spies; (3) converted spies; (4) doomed spies; (5) surviving spies.

When these five kinds of spy are all at work, none can discover the secret system.736 This is called737 “divine manipulation of the threads.”738 It is the sovereign’s most precious faculty.739

Having local spies740 means employing the services of the inhabitants of a district.741

Having inward spies, making use of officials of the enemy.742

Having converted spies, getting hold of the enemy’s spies and using them for our own purposes.743

Having doomed spies, doing certain things openly for purposes of deception, and allowing our spies to know of them and report them to the enemy.744

Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp.745

Hence it is that which none in the whole army are more intimate relations to be maintained than with spies.746 None should be more liberally rewarded.747 In no other business should greater secrecy be preserved.748

Spies cannot be usefully employed749 without a certain intuitive sagacity.750

They cannot be properly managed without benevolence and straightforwardness.751

Without subtle ingenuity of mind, one cannot make certain of the truth of their reports.752

Be subtle! be subtle!753 and use your spies for every kind of business.

If a secret piece of news is divulged by a spy before the time is ripe, he must be put to death together with the man to whom the secret was told.754

Whether the object be to crush an army, to storm a city, or to assassinate an individual, it is always necessary to begin by finding out the names of the attendants,755 the aides-de-camp,756 and doorkeepers and sentries757 of the general in command.758 Our spies must be commissioned to ascertain these.759

The enemy’s spies who have come to spy on us must be sought out,760 tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed.761 Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service.

It is through the information brought by the converted spy that we are able to acquire and employ local and inward spies.762

It is owing to his information, again, that we can cause the doomed spy to carry false tidings to the enemy.763

Lastly, it is by his information that the surviving spy can be used on appointed occasions.764

The end and aim of spying in all its five varieties is knowledge of the enemy;765 and this knowledge can only be derived, in the first instance, from the converted spy.766 Hence it is essential that the converted spy be treated with the utmost liberality.

Of old, the rise of the Yin dynasty767 was due to I Chih768 who had served under the Hsia. Likewise, the rise of the Chou dynasty was due to Lu Ya769 who had served under the Yin.770

Hence it is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for purposes of spying771 and thereby they achieve great results.772 Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army’s ability to move.773


  1. Published at Paris in 1782.

  2. A rather distressing Japanese flavor pervades the work throughout. Thus, King Ho Lu masquerades as “Katsuryo,” Wu and Yüeh become “Go” and “Etsu,” etc. etc.

  3. A notable exception is to be found in Biot’s translation of the Chou Li.

  4. Shih Chi, ch. 65.

  5. Also written 闔閭 Ho Lü. He reigned from 514 to 496 BC.

  6. Shih Chi, ch. 130,

  7. I note that M. Chavannes translates 民勞 le peuple est épuisé. But in Sun Tzǔ’s own book (see especially VII, “Gongs and drums⁠ ⁠…”) the ordinary meaning of is “army,” and this, I think, is more suitable here.

  8. These words are given also in Wu Tzǔ-hsü’s biography, ch. 66,

  9. The appellation of 囊瓦 Nang Wa.

  10. Shih Chi, ch. 31,

  11. Shih Chi, ch. 25,

  12. The appellation of 狐偃 Hu Yen, mentioned in ch. 39 under the year 637.

  13. 王子城父 Wang-tzǔ Chʽêng-fu, ch. 32, year 607.

  14. The mistake is natural enough. Native critics refer to the 越絶書, a work of the Han dynasty, which says (ch. 2, fol.vo of my edition): 巫門外大冢吳王客齊孫武冢也去縣十里善為兵法 “Ten li outside the Wu gate [of the city of Wu, now Soochow in Kiangsu] there is a great mound, raised to commemorate the entertainment of Sun Wu of Chʽi, who excelled in the art of war, by the King of Wu.”

  15. 孫子者吳人也善為兵法辟幽居世人莫知其能.

  16. 君臣乖心則孫子不能以應敵.

  17. 孫武以三萬破楚二十萬者楚無法故也

  18. The Shih Chih, on the other hand, says: 臏亦孫武之後世子孫也. I remark in passing that the name for one who was a great warrior is just as suspicious as for a man who had his feet cut off.

  19. An allusion to 易經, 繫辭, II 2: 弦木為弧剡大為矢弧矢之利以威天下 “They attached strings to wood to make bows, and sharpened wood to make arrows. The use of bows and arrows is to keep the Empire in awe.”

  20. 論語 XII 7.

  21. 書經 V IV 7.

  22. 易經, 7th diagram ().

  23. 詩經 III 1 VII 5.

  24. 司馬法 ch. 1 (仁本) ad init. The text of the passage in the 圖書 Tʽu Shu (戎政典, ch. 85) is: 是故殺人安人殺之可也.

  25. The son and successor of Ho Lu. He was finally defeated and overthrown by 勾踐 Kou Chien, King of Yüeh, in 473 BC. See post.

  26. King Yen of Hsü, a fabulous being, of whom Sun Hsing-yen says in his preface: 仁而敗 “His humanity brought him to destruction.” See Shih Chi, ch. 5, f. I vo, and M. Chavannes’ note, Mémoires Historiques, tom. II, p. 8.

  27. Tʽu Shu, ch. 90: 操聞上古有弧矢之利論語曰足兵尚書八政曰師易曰師貞丈人吉詩曰王赫斯怒爰征其旅黃帝湯武咸用干戚以濟世也司馬法曰人故殺人殺之可也恃武者滅恃文者亡夫差偃王是也聖人之用兵戢而時動不得已而用之.

  28. The passage I have put in brackets is omitted in the Tʽu Shu, and may be an interpolation. It was known, however, to 張守節 Chang Shou-chieh of the Tʽang dynasty, and it appears in the Tʽai Pʽing Yü Lan.

  29. Tsʽao Kung seems to be thinking of the first part of chap. II, perhaps especially of “The skilful soldier does not raise a second levy⁠ ⁠…”

  30. 吾觀兵書戰策多矣孫武所著深矣孫子者齊人也名武為吳王闔閭作兵法一十三篇試之婦人卒以為將西破強楚入郢北威齊晉後百歲餘有孫矉是武之後也審計重舉明畫深圖不可相誣而但世人未之深亮訓說況文煩富行於世者失其旨要故撰略解焉.

  31. 漢書藝文志, 兵權謀.

  32. The 宋藝文志 mentions two editions of Sun Tzǔ in 3 chüan, namely 孫武孫子 and 朱服校定孫子.

  33. See chap. XI, “The art of war recognizes⁠ ⁠…”

  34. 吳王召孫子問以兵法每陳一篇王不知口之稱善.

  35. 按此皆釋九地篇義辭意甚詳故其篇帙不能不多也.

  36. Such as the 八陣圖, quoted in 鄭玄 Chêng Hsüan’s commentary on the Chou Li, the 戰鬭大甲兵法 and 兵法雜占, mentioned in the 隋志 Sui Chih, and the 三十二壘經, in the Hsin Tʽang Chih.

  37. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that 吳子 Wu Tzǔ, which is now in 6 chapters, has 48 assigned to it in the Han Chih. Likewise, the 中庸 Chung Yung is credited with 49 chapters, though now in one only. In the case of such very short works, one is tempted to think that might simply mean “leaves.”

  38. See Tʽu Shu, 經籍典, ch.442, 彙考 2.

  39. An extract will be found in a later section of the introduction, Apologies for War. (“War may be defined as punishment⁠ ⁠…”)

  40. 武所著書凡數十萬言曹魏武帝削其繁剰筆其精切凡十三篇成為一編.

  41. 其所為注解十不釋一此蓋非曹不能盡注解也.

  42. 子尋魏志見曹自作兵書十餘萬言諸將征戰皆以新書從事從令者克捷違教者負敗意曹自於新書中馳驟其說自成一家事業不欲隨孫武後盡解其書不然者曹其不能耶今新書已亡不可復知.

  43. 魏氏瑣連孫武之法.

  44. See 孫子兵法序.

  45. 謙言解其觕略.

  46. Ch. 99,

  47. 然史記稱十三篇在漢志之前不得以後來附益者為本書牧之言固未可以為據也.

  48. Shih Chi, ch. 65 ad fin: 世俗所稱師旅皆道孫子十三篇吳起兵法世多有故弗論.

  49. 葉適 Yeh Shih of the Sung dynasty (1151⁠–⁠1223). See 文獻通考, ch. 221, ff. 7, 8.

  50. See Tso Chuan, 隱公, Iad fin. and XIad init. He hardly deserves to be bracketed with assassins.

  51. See note 390 and note 626.

  52. See Tso Chuan, 僖公, XXX 5.

  53. See note 626. Chuan Chu is the abbreviated form of his name.

  54. I.e. Po Pʽei. See ante.

  55. 遷載孫武齊人而用於吳在闔閭時破楚入郢為大將按左氏無孫武他書所有左氏不必盡有然穎考叔曹劌燭之武鱄設諸之流微賤暴用事左氏未嘗遺而武功名章灼如此乃更闕又同時伍員宰嚭一一銓次乃獨不及武邪.

  56. The nucleus of this work is probably genuine, though large additions have been made by later hands. Kuan Chung died in 645 BC.

  57. See the Liu Tʽao reference, infra.

  58. I do not know what work this is, unless it be the last chapter of the 國語. Why that chapter should be singled out, however, is not clear.

  59. About 480 BC.

  60. 詳味孫子與管子六韜越語相出入春秋末戰國初山林處士所為其言得用於吳者其徒夸大之說也.

  61. That is, I suppose, the age of Wu Wang and Chou Kang.

  62. In the 3rd century BC.

  63. Ssǔ-ma Jang-chü, whose family name was Tʽien, lived in the latter half of the 6th century BC, and is also believed to have written a work on war. See Shih Chi, ch. 64, and the entry for Ssǔ-ma Fa, infra.

  64. 自周之盛至春秋凡將兵者必與聞國政未有特將於外者六國時此制始改吳雖蠻夷而孫武為大將乃不為命卿而左氏無傅焉可乎故凡謂穰苴孫武者皆辯士妄相標指非事實其言闔閭試以婦人尤為奇險不足信.

  65. See the end of the passage quoted from the Shih Chi earlier in this section.

  66. In the 書錄解題, a classified catalogue of his family library.

  67. See Wên Hsien Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, 世之言兵者祖孫武然孫武事吳闔閭而不見於左傳不知果何時人也.

  68. See Hsü Lu, f. 14 ro: 孫吳或是古書.

  69. 按孫子生於敬王之代故周秦兩漢諸書皆多襲用其文. Here is a list of the passages in Sun Tzǔ from which either the substance or the actual words have been appropriated by early authors:

    From the 戰國策:

    From the 吳子:

    From the 尉繚子:

    From the 鶡冠子:

    From the 史記 (Two of the below are given as quotations).

    From the 呂氏春秋:

    From the 淮南子:

    From the 太元經:

    From the 潛夫論:

  70. See Legge’s Classics, vol. V, Prolegomena p. 27. Legge thinks that the Tso Chuan must have been written in the 5th century, but not before 424 BC.

  71. The instances quoted are:

  72. See Mencius III 1 III 13⁠–⁠20.

  73. 山林處士 need not be pressed to mean an actual dweller in the mountains. I think it simply denotes a person living a retired life and standing aloof from public affairs.

  74. When Wu first appears in the Chʽun Chʽiu in 584, it is already at variance with its powerful neighbour. The Chʽun Chʽiu first mentions Yüeh in 537, the Tso Chuan in 601.

  75. This is explicitly stated in the Tso Chuan, 昭公 XXXII, 2: 夏吳伐越始用師於越也.

  76. There is this to be said for the later period, that the feud would tend to grow more bitter after each encounter, and thus more fully justify the language used in XI. (“For the men of Wu⁠ ⁠…”)

  77. See his preface to Sun Tzǔ:⁠—入郢威齊晉之功歸之子胥故春秋傳不載其名葢功成不受官.

  78. With Wu Yüan himself the case is just the reverse:⁠—a spurious treatise on war has been fathered on him simply because he was a great general. Here we have an obvious inducement to forgery. Sun Wu, on the other hand, cannot have been widely known to fame in the 5th century.

  79. See Tso Chuan, 定公, 4th year (506), § 14: 自昭王卽位無歲不有吳師 “From the date of King Chao’s accession [515] there was no year in which Chʽu was not attacked by Wu.”

  80. See supra. (“There is every reason to suppose⁠ ⁠…”)

  81. 秦漢已來用兵皆用其法而或祕其書不肯注以傳世魏武始為之注.

  82. See 宋藝文志.

  83. Alluded to in note 32.

  84. Note 32: 蓋宋人又從大興朱氏處見明人刻本餘則世無傳者.

  85. A good biographical notice, with a list of his works, will be found in the 國朝詩人徵略, ch. 48, fol. 18 sqq.

  86. Preface ad fin.: 吾家出樂安眞孫子之後媿余徒讀祖書考証文字不通方略亦享承平之福者久也 “My family comes from Lo-an, and we are really descended from Sun Tzǔ. I am ashamed to say that I only read my ancestor’s work from a literary point of view, without comprehending the military technique. So long have we been enjoying the blessings of peace!”

  87. Hua-yin is about 14 miles from 潼關 Tʽung-kuan on the eastern border of Shensi. The temple in question is still visited by those about to make the ascent of the 華山 or Western Sacred Mountain. It is mentioned in the 大明一統志 (AD 1461), ch. 32, f. 22, as the 西嶽廟:⁠—在華陰縣東五里廟有唐玄宗所製華山碑 “Situated five li east of the district city of Hua-yin. The temple contains the Hua-shan tablet inscribed by the Tʽang Emperor Hsüan Tsung [713⁠–⁠755].”

  88. 曩予游關中讀華陰嶽廟道藏見有此書後有鄭友賢遺說一卷.

  89. Cf. Sun Hsing-yen’s remark apropos of his mistakes in the names and order of the commentators: 吉天保之不深究此書可知.

  90. 國家令甲以孫子校士所傳本或多錯謬當用古本是正其文適吳念湖太守畢恬溪孝廉皆為此學所得或過于予遂刋一編以課武士.

  91. See my Catalogue of Chinese Books (Luzac & Co., 1908), no. 40.

  92. This is a discussion of 29 difficult passages in Sun Tzǔ, namely:

  93. Preface to Mei Yao-chʽên’s edition: 孫子注者尤多武之書本於兵兵之術非一而以不窮為奇宜其說者之多也.

  94. See 魏書, ch. 1.

  95. 魏書, ch. 1: 然前世言善用兵稱曹公曹公嘗與董呂諸袁角其力而勝之遂與吳蜀分漢而王傳言魏之將出兵千里每坐計勝敗授其成算諸將用之十不失一一有違者兵輒敗北.

  96. Cf. 天一閣藏書總目 Catalogue of the library of the Fan family at Ningpo, 子部, fol. 12 vo: 其註多隱辭引而不發 “His commentary is frequently obscure; it furnishes a clue, but does not fully develop the meaning.”

  97. See 玉海, ch. 141 ad init.

  98. Wên Hsien Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f.vo.

  99. Ch. 207,

  100. It is interesting to note that M. Pelliot has recently discovered chapters 1, 4 and 5 of this lost work in the Grottos of the Thousand Buddhas. See B.E.F.E.O., t. VIII, nos. 3⁠–⁠4, p. 525.

  101. See B.E.F.E.O., t. VIII, nos. 3⁠–⁠4, p. 525.

  102. Wên Hsien Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f. 9: 世謂牧慨然最喜論兵欲試而不得者其學能道春秋戰國時事甚博而詳知兵者有取焉.

  103. Preface to his commentary (Tʽu Shu, 經籍典, ch. 442): 武之所論大約用仁義使機權也.

  104. Preface to his commentary (Tʽu Shu, 經籍典, ch. 442): 自武死後凡千歲將兵者有成者有敗者勘其事跡皆與武所著書一一相抵當.

  105. Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f. 9: 皥以曹公注隱微杜牧注闊踈重為之注云.

  106. Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f. 9: 皥以曹公注隱微杜牧注闊踈重為之注云.

  107. The Hsia, the Shang and the Chou. Although the last-named was nominally existent in Sun Tzǔ’s day, it retained hardly a vestige of power, and the old military organisation had practically gone by the board. I can suggest no other explanation of the passage.

  108. See Chou Li XXIX 6⁠–⁠10.

  109. See Tʽu Shu, 戎政典, ch. 90, f.vo: 後之學者徒見其書又各牽於己見是以注者雖多而少當也獨吾友聖俞不然嘗評武之書曰此戰國相傾之說也三代王者之師司馬九伐之法武不及也然亦愛其文略而意深其行師用兵料敵制勝亦皆有法其言甚有序次而注者汩之或失其意乃自為注凡膠于偏見者皆抉去傳以己意而發之然後武之說不汩而明吾知此書當與三家並傳而後世取其說者往往于吾聖俞多焉.

  110. Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f. 11 ro: 皙以古本校正闕誤.

  111. See 四庫全書, ch. 99, f. 16 vo.

  112. This appears to be still extant. See Wylie’s “Notes,” p. 91 (new edition).

  113. Tʽung Kʽao, ch. 221, f. 11 ro: 仁廟時天下久承平人不習兵元昊既叛邊將數敗朝廷頗訪知兵者士大夫人人言兵矣故本朝注解孫武書者大抵皆其時人也.

  114. A notable person in his day. His biography is given in the San Kuo Chih, ch. 10.

  115. Ch. 100, ff. 2, 3.

  116. See note 672.

  117. Hou Han Shu, ch. 17 ad init.

  118. San Kuo Chih, ch. 54 f. 10 vo (commentary).

  119. Sung Shih, ch. 365 ad init.

  120. The few Europeans who have yet had an opportunity of acquainting themselves with Sun Tzǔ are not behindhand in their praise. In this connection, I may perhaps be excused for quoting from a letter from Lord Roberts, to whom the sheets of the present work were submitted previous to publication: “Many of Sun Wu’s maxims are perfectly applicable to the present day, and ‘The art of war teaches us to rely⁠ ⁠…’ in ch. VIII is one that the people of this country would do well to take to heart.”

  121. Ch. 140, f. 13 ro.

  122. See IV. (“Thus the good fighter is able⁠ ⁠…”)

  123. The allusion may be to Mencius VI 2 IX 2: 戰必克.

  124. 武用兵不能必克與書所言遠甚吳起與武一體之人皆著書言兵世稱之曰孫吳然而起之言兵也輕法制草略無所統紀不若武之書詞約而義盡.

  125. The Tso Chuan.

  126. 孫子十三篇不惟武人之根本文士亦當盡心焉其詞約而縟易而深暢而可用論語易大傳之流孟荀楊著書皆不及也.

  127. 是啟人君窮兵黷武之心.

  128. Shih Chi, ch. 25, fol. 1: 兵者聖人所以討彊暴平亂世夷險阻救危殆自含血戴角之獸見犯則校而况於人懷好惡喜怒之氣喜則愛心生怒則毒螫加情性之理也⁠ ⁠… 豈與世儒闇於大較不權輕重猥云德化不當用兵大至窘辱失守小乃侵犯削弱遂執不移等哉故教笞不可廢於家刑罰不可捐於國誅伐不可偃於天下用之有巧拙行之有逆順耳.

  129. The first instance of 木索 given in the Pʽei Wên Yün Fu is from Ssǔ-ma Chʽien’s letter to 仼安 Jên An (see 文選, ch. 41,, where M. Chavannes translates it la cangue et la chaîne. But in the present passage it seems rather to indicate some single instrument of torture.

  130. 兵者刑也刑者政事也為夫子之徒實仲由冉求之事也今者據案聽訟械繋罪人笞死于巿者吏之所為也驅兵數萬撅其城郭纍其妻子斬其罪人亦吏之所為也木索兵刃無異意也笞之與斬無異刑也小而易制用力少者木索笞也大而難治用力多者兵刃斬也俱期於除去惡民安活善民.

  131. Cf. Shih Chi, ch. 47, f. 11 vo.

  132. 季孫問于冉有曰子之戰學之乎性達之乎對曰學之季孫曰事孔子惡乎學冉有曰即學之於孔子者大聖兼該文武並用適聞其戰法實未之詳也夫不知自何代何年何人分為二道曰文曰武離而俱行因使縉紳之士不敢言兵甚或恥言之苟有言者世以為麤暴異人人不比數嗚呯亡失根本斯為最甚.

  133. See Shu Ching, preface § 55.

  134. See Tso Chuan, 定公 X 2; Shih Chi, ch. 47,

  135. 周公相成王制禮作樂尊大儒術有淮夷叛則出征之夫子相魯公會于夾谷曰有文事者必有武備叱辱齊侯伏不敢動是二大聖人豈不知兵乎.

  136. Lun Yü, XV 1.

  137. Tso Chuan, 哀公, XI 7.

  138. See supra. (“When Confucius held office⁠ ⁠…”)

  139. Tso Chuan, 定公, X 2.

  140. Tso Chuan, XII 5; Chia Yü, fin.

  141. I have failed to trace this utterance. See note 123.

  142. See supra. (“Chi-sun asked Jan Yu⁠ ⁠…”)

  143. 性理彙要, ch. 17: 昔吾夫子對衛靈公以軍旅之事未之學答孔文子以甲兵之事未之聞及觀夾谷之會則以兵加萊人而齊侯懼費人之亂則命將士以伐之而費人北嘗曰我戰則克而冉有亦曰聖人文武並用孔子豈有眞未學未聞哉特以軍旅甲兵之事非所以爲訓也.

  144. See supra. (“He once uttered the words⁠ ⁠…”)

  145. Viz., 軍禮, the other four being , , and “worship mourning, entertainment of guests and festive rites.” See Shu Ching, II, 1 III 8, and Chou Li, IX fol. 49.

  146. Preface to Sun Tzǔ: 孔子曰軍旅之事未之學又曰我戰則克孔子定禮正樂兵則五禮之一不必以為專門之學故云未學所為聖人有所不知或行軍好謀則學之或善將將如伍子胥之用孫子又何必自學之故又曰我戰則克也.

  147. See note 743.

  148. This is a rather obscure allusion to Tso Chuan, 襄公, XXXI 4, where Tzǔ-chʽan says: 子有美錦不使人學製焉 “If you have a piece of beautiful brocade, you will not employ a mere learner to make it up.”

  149. Cf. Tao Tê Ching, ch. 31: 兵者不祥之器.

  150. Sun Hsing-yen might have quoted Confucius again. See Lun Yü, XIII 29, 30.

  151. 今世泥孔子之言以為兵書不足觀又泥趙括徒能讀父書之言以為成法不足用又見兵書有權謀有反間以為非聖人之法皆不知吾儒之學者吏之治事可習而能然古人猶有學製之懼兵凶戰危將不素習未可以人命為嘗試則十三篇之不可不觀也.

  152. Better known as Hsiang (BC 233⁠–⁠202).

  153. The third among the 五伯 (or ) enumerated in note 658. For the incident referred to, see Tso Chuan, 僖公, XXII 4.

  154. See note 26.

  155. Shih Chi, ch. 47,

  156. Shih Chi, ch. 38, f.vo.

  157. 項梁教籍兵法籍略知其意不肯竟學卒以傾覆不知兵法之弊可勝言哉宋襄徐偃仁而敗兵者危機當用權謀孔子猶有要盟勿信微服過宋之時安得妄責孫子以言之不純哉.

  158. 其時去古未遠三代遺規往往於此書見之.

  159. 其最古者當以孫子吳子司馬法為本大抵生聚訓練之術權謀運用之宜而已.

  160. See note 769. Further details on Tʽai Kung will be found in the Shih Chi, ch. 32 ad init. Besides the tradition which makes him a former minister of Chou Hsin, two other accounts of him are there given, according to which he would appear to have been first raised from a humble private station by Wên Wang.

  161. 其文義不類三代.

  162. 其言多近於正與戰國權謀頗殊.

  163. See Han Shu, 張良傳, ch. 40. The work is there called 太公兵法. Hence it has been confused with the Liu Tʽao. The Tʽu Shu attributes both the Liu Tʽao and the San Lüeh to Tʽai Kung.

  164. 其文不類秦漢間書漢光武帝詔雖嘗引之安知非反摭詔中所引二語以證實其書謂之北宋以前舊本則可矣. Another work said to have been written by Huang-shih Kung, and also included in the military section of the Imperial Catalogue, is the 素書 Su Shu in 1 chüan. A short ethical treatise of Taoist savour, having no reference whatever to war, it is pronounced a forgery from the hand of 張商英 Chang Shang-ying (d. 1121), who edited it with commentary. Correct Wylie’s “Notes,” new edition, p. 90, and Courant’s Catalogue des Livres Chinois, no. 5056.

  165. 其書雖偽亦出於有學識謀略者之手也. We are told in the 讀書志 that the above six works, together with Sun Tzǔ, were those prescribed for military training in the 元豐 period (1078⁠–⁠85). See Yü Hai, ch. 140,

  166. Also written 握機經 and 幄機經 Wu Chi Ching.

  167. 其言具有條理.

  168. This is the only possible meaning of , which M. Amiot and Capt. Calthrop wrongly translate Fondements de l’art militaire and “First principles” respectively. Tsʽao Kung says it refers to the deliberations in the temple selected by the general for his temporary use, or as we should say, in his tent. See the end of ch. I. (“Now the general⁠ ⁠…”)

  169. The old text of the Tʽung Tien has 故經之以五校之計, etc. Later editors have inserted after , and before . The former correction is perhaps superfluous, but the latter seems necessary in order to make sense, and is supported by the accepted reading later in chapter I (“Therefore, in your deliberations⁠ ⁠…”), where the same words recur. I am inclined to think, however, that the whole sentence from to is an interpolation and has no business here at all. If it be retained, Wang Hsi must be right in saying that denotes the “seven considerations” listed afterwards (“Which of the two sovereigns⁠ ⁠…”). are the circumstances or conditions likely to bring about victory or defeat. The antecedent of the first is 兵者; of the second, . contains the idea of “comparison with the enemy,” which cannot well be brought out here, but will appear later in the chapter (“Therefore, in your deliberations⁠ ⁠…”). Altogether, difficult though it is, the passage is not so hopelessly corrupt as to justify Capt. Calthrop in burking it entirely.

  170. It appears from what follows that Sun Tzǔ means by a principle of harmony, not unlike the Tao of Lao Tzǔ in its moral aspect. One might be tempted to render it by “morale,” were it not considered as an attribute of the ruler in the first of the seven considerations.

  171. The original text omits 令民, inserts an after each , and omits after . Capt. Calthrop translates: “If the ruling authority be upright, the people are united”⁠—a very pretty sentiment, but wholly out of place in what purports to be a translation of Sun Tzǔ.

  172. The commentators, I think, make an unnecessary mystery of 陰陽. Thus Mêng Shih defines the words as 剛柔盈縮 “the hard and the soft, waxing and waning,” which does not help us much. Wang Hsi, however, may be right in saying that what is meant is 總天道 “the general economy of Heaven,” including the five elements, the four seasons, wind and clouds, and other phenomena.

  173. 死生 (omitted by Capt. Calthrop) may have been included here because the safety of an army depends largely on its quickness to turn these geographical features to account.

  174. The five cardinal virtues of the Chinese are (1) humanity or benevolence; (2) uprightness of mind; (3) self-respect, self-control, or “proper feeling;” (4) wisdom; (5) sincerity or good faith. Here and are put before , and the two military virtues of “courage” and “strictness” substituted for and .

  175. The Chinese of this sentence is so concise as to be practically unintelligible without commentary. I have followed the interpretation of Tsʽao Kung, who joins 曲制 and again 主用. Others take each of the six predicates separately. has the somewhat uncommon sense of “cohort” or division of an army. Capt. Calthrop translates: “Partition and ordering of troops,” which only covers 曲制.

  176. The Yü Lan has an interpolated before . It is obvious, however, that the 五者 just enumerated cannot be described as . Capt. Calthrop, forced to give some rendering of the words which he had omitted earlier (“The art of war, then, is governed⁠ ⁠…”), shows himself decidedly hazy: “Further, with regard to these and the following seven matters, the condition of the enemy must be compared with our own.” He does not appear to see that the seven queries or considerations which follow arise directly out of the Five heads, instead of being supplementary to them.

  177. I.e., “is in harmony with his subjects.” Cf. chapter I (“The Moral Law causes⁠ ⁠…”).

  178. See chapter I (“Heaven signifies⁠ ⁠…” and “Earth comprises⁠ ⁠…”).

  179. Tu Mu alludes to the remarkable story of Tsʽao Tsʽao (AD 155⁠–⁠220), who was such a strict disciplinarian that once, in accordance with his own severe regulations against injury to standing crops, he condemned himself to death for having allowed his horse to shy into a field of corn! However, in lieu of losing his head, he was persuaded to satisfy his sense of justice by cutting off his hair. Tsʽao Tsʽao’s own comment on the present passage is characteristically curt: 設而不犯犯而必誅 “when you lay down a law, see that it is not disobeyed; if it is disobeyed, the offender must be put to death.”

  180. Morally as well as physically. As Mei Yao-chʽên puts it, 內和外附, which might be freely rendered “esprit de corps and ‘big battalions.’ ”

  181. Tu Yu quotes 王子 as saying: “Without constant practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand.”

  182. , literally “clear;” that is, on which side is there the most absolute certainty that merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished?

  183. The form of this paragraph reminds us that Sun Tzǔ’s treatise was composed expressly for the benefit of his patron 闔閭 Ho Lü, king of the Wu State. It is not necessary, however, to understand before 留之 (as some commentators do), or to take as “generals under my command.”

  184. Capt. Calthrop blunders amazingly over this sentence: “Wherefore, with regard to the foregoing, considering that with us lies the advantage, and the generals agreeing, we create a situation which promises victory.” Mere logic should have kept him from penning such frothy balderdash.

  185. Sun Tzǔ, as a practical soldier, will have none of the “bookish theoric.” He cautions us here not to pin our faith to abstract principles; “for,” as Chang Yü puts it, “while the main laws of strategy can be stated clearly enough for the benefit of all and sundry, you must be guided by the actions of the enemy in attempting to secure a favourable position in actual warfare.” On the eve of the battle of Waterloo, Lord Uxbridge, commanding the cavalry, went to the Duke of Wellington in order to learn what his plans and calculations were for the morrow, because, as he explained, he might suddenly find himself Commander-in-chief and would be unable to frame new plans in a critical moment. The Duke listened quietly and then said: “Who will attack the first tomorrow⁠—I or Bonaparte?” “Bonaparte,” replied Lord Uxbridge. “Well,” continued the Duke, “Bonaparte has not given me any idea of his projects; and as my plans will depend upon his, how can you expect me to tell you what mine are?”774

  186. The truth of this pithy and profound saying will be admitted by every soldier. Col. Henderson tells us that Wellington, great in so many military qualities, was especially distinguished by “the extraordinary skill with which he concealed his movements and deceived both friend and foe.”

  187. , as often in Sun Tzǔ, is used in the sense of . It is rather remarkable that all the commentators, with the exception of Chang Yü, refer to the enemy: “when he is in disorder, crush him.” It is more natural to suppose that Sun Tzǔ is still illustrating the uses of deception in war.

  188. The meaning of is made clear from chap. VI, where it is opposed to “weak or vulnerable spots.” , according to Tu Yu and other commentators, has reference to the keenness of the men as well as to numerical superiority. Capt. Calthrop evolves an extraordinarily farfetched translation: “If there are defects, give an appearance of perfection, and awe the enemy. Pretend to be strong, and so cause the enemy to avoid you”!

  189. I follow Chang Yü in my interpretation of . is expanded by Mei Yao-chʽên into 示以卑弱. Wang Tzǔ, quoted by Tu Yu, says that the good tactician plays with his adversary as a cat plays with a mouse, first feigning weakness and immobility, and then suddenly pouncing upon him.

  190. This is probably the meaning, though Mei Yao-chʽên has the note: 以我之佚待彼之勞 “while we are taking our ease, wait for the enemy to tire himself out.” The Yü Lan has 引而勞之 “Lure him on and tire him out.” This would seem also to have been Tsʽao Kung’s text, judging by his comment 以利勞之.

  191. Less plausible is the interpretation favoured by most of the commentators: “If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them.”

  192. This seems to be the way in which Tsʽao Kung understood the passage, and is perhaps the best sense to be got out of the text as it stands. Most of the commentators give the following explanation: “It is impossible to lay down rules for warfare before you come into touch with the enemy.” This would be very plausible if it did not ignore , which unmistakably refers to the maxims which Sun Tzǔ has been laying down. It is possible, of course, that may be a later interpolation, in which case the sentence would practically mean: “Success in warfare cannot be taught.” As an alternative, however, I would venture to suggest that a second may have fallen out after , so that we get: “These maxims for succeeding in war are the first that ought to be imparted.”

  193. Chang Yü tells us that in ancient times it was customary for a temple to be set apart for the use of a general who was about to take the field, in order that he might there elaborate his plan of campaign. Capt. Calthrop misunderstands it as “the shrine of the ancestors,” and gives a loose and inaccurate rendering of the whole passage.

  194. Tsʽao Kung has the note: 欲戰必先算其費務 “He who wishes to fight must first count the cost,” which prepares us for the discovery that the subject of the chapter is not what we might expect from the title, but is primarily a consideration of ways and means.

  195. The 馳車 were lightly built and, according to Chang Yü, used for the attack; the 革車 were heavier, and designed for purposes of defence. Li Chʽüan, it is true, says that the latter were light, but this seems hardly probable. Capt. Calthrop translates “chariots” and “supply wagons” respectively, but is not supported by any commentator. It is interesting to note the analogies between early Chinese warfare and that of the Homeric Greeks. In each case, the war-chariot was the important factor, forming as it did the nucleus round which was grouped a certain number of foot-soldiers. With regard to the numbers given here, we are informed that each swift chariot was accompanied by 75 footmen, and each heavy chariot by 25 footmen, so that the whole army would be divided up into a thousand battalions, each consisting of two chariots and a hundred men.

  196. 2.78 modern li go to a mile. The length may have varied slightly since Sun Tzǔ’s time.

  197. , which follows in the textus receptus, is important as indicating the apodosis. In the text adopted by Capt. Calthrop it is omitted, so that he is led to give this meaningless translation of the opening sentence: “Now the requirements of War are such that we need 1,000 chariots,” etc. The second , which is redundant, is omitted in the Yü Lan. 千金, like 千里 above, is meant to suggest a large but indefinite number. As the Chinese have never possessed gold coins, it is incorrect to translate it “1000 pieces of gold.”

  198. Capt. Calthrop adds: “You have the instruments of victory,” which he seems to get from the first five characters of the next sentence.

  199. The Yü Lan omits ; but though 勝久 is certainly a bold phrase, it is more likely to be right than not. Both in this place and in § 4, the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read (in the sense of “to injure”) instead of .

  200. As synonyms to are given , , , and .

  201. 久暴師 means literally, “If there is long exposure of the army.” Of in this sense Kʽang Hsi cites an instance from the biography of 竇融 Tou Jung in the Hou Han Shu, where the commentary defines it by . Cf. also the following from the 戰國策: 將軍久暴露於外 “General, you have long been exposed to all weathers.”

  202. Following Tu Yu, I understand in the sense of “to make good,” i.e. to mend. But Tu Mu and Ho Shih explain it as “to make good plans”⁠—for the future.

  203. This concise and difficult sentence is not well explained by any of the commentators. Tsʽao Kung, Li Chʽüan, Mêng Shih, Tu Yu, Tu Mu, and Mei Yao-chʽên have notes to the effect that a general, though naturally stupid, may nevertheless conquer through sheer force of rapidity. Ho Shih says: “Haste may be stupid, but at any rate it saves expenditure of energy and treasure; protracted operations may be very clever, but they bring calamity in their train.” Wang Hsi evades the difficulty by remarking: “Lengthy operations mean an army growing old, wealth being expended, an empty exchequer and distress among the people; true cleverness insures against the occurrence of such calamities.” Chang Yü says: “So long as victory can be attained, stupid haste is preferable to clever dilatoriness.” Now Sun Tzǔ says nothing whatever, except possibly by implication, about ill-considered haste being better than ingenious but lengthy operations. What he does say is something much more guarded, namely that, while speed may sometimes be injudicious, tardiness can never be anything but foolish⁠—if only because it means impoverishment to the nation. Capt. Calthrop indulges his imagination with the following: “Therefore it is acknowledged that war cannot be too short in duration. But though conducted with the utmost art, if long continuing, misfortunes do always appear.” It is hardly worth while to note the total disappearance of 拙速 in this precious concoction. In considering the point raised here by Sun Tzǔ, the classic example of Fabius Cunctator will inevitably occur to the mind. That general deliberately measured the endurance of Rome against that of Hannibal’s isolated army, because it seemed to him that the latter was more likely to suffer from a long campaign in a strange country. But it is quite a moot question whether his tactics would have proved successful in the long run. Their reversal, it is true, led to Cannae; but this only establishes a negative presumption in their favour.

  204. The Yü Lan has instead of ⁠—evidently the mistake of a scribe.

  205. That is, with rapidity. Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realise the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close. Only two commentators seem to favour this interpretation, but it fits well into the logic of the context, whereas the rendering, “He who does not know the evils of war cannot appreciate its benefits,” is distinctly pointless.

  206. Once war is declared, he will not waste precious time in waiting for reinforcements, not will he turn his army back for fresh supplies, but crosses the enemy’s frontier without delay. This may seem an audacious policy to recommend, but with all great strategists, from Julius Caesar to Napoleon Bonaparte, the value of time⁠—that is, being a little ahead of your opponent⁠—has counted for more than either numerical superiority or the nicest calculations with regard to commissariat. is used in the sense of . The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have the inferior reading . The commentators explain 不三載 by saying that the wagons are loaded once before passing the frontier, and that the army is met by a further consignment of supplies on the homeward march. The Yü Lan, however, reads here as well.

  207. , “things to be used,” in the widest sense. It includes all the impedimenta of an army, apart from provisions.

  208. The beginning of this sentence does not balance properly with the next, though obviously intended to do so. The arrangement, moreover, is so awkward that I cannot help suspecting some corruption in the text. It never seems to occur to Chinese commentators that an emendation may be necessary for the sense, and we get no help from them here. Sun Tzǔ says that the cause of the people’s impoverishment is 遠輸; it is clear, therefore, that the words have reference to some system by which the husbandmen sent their contributions of corn to the army direct. But why should it fall on them to maintain an army in this way, except because the State or Government is too poor to do so? Assuming then that ought to stand first in the sentence in order to balance (the fact that the two words rhyme is significant), and thus getting rid of 國之, we are still left with 於師, which latter word seems to me an obvious mistake for . “Poverty in the army” is an unlikely expression, especially as the general has just been warned not to encumber his army with a large quantity of supplies. If we suppose that somehow got written here instead of (a very simple supposition, as we have 近於師 in the next sentence), and that later on somebody, scenting a mistake, prefixed the gloss 國之 to , without however erasing 於師, the whole muddle may be explained. My emended text then would be 貧於國者, etc.

  209. , that is, as Wang Hsi says, before the army has left its own territory. Tsʽao Kung understands it of an army that has already crossed the frontier. Capt. Calthrop drops the , reading 近師者, but even so it is impossible to justify his translation “Repeated wars cause high prices.”

  210. Cf. Mencius VII 2 XIV 2, where 丘民 has the same meaning as 丘役. was an ancient measure of land. The full table, as given in the 司馬法, may not be out of place here: 6 = 1 ; 100 = ; 100 = 1 ; 3 = 1 ; 3 = 1 ; 4 = 1 ; 4 = 1 ; 4 = 1 . According to the Chou Li, there were nine husbandmen to a , which would assign to each man the goodly allowance of 100 (of which 6.6 now go to an acre). What the values of these measures were in Sun Tzǔ’s time is not known with any certainty. The lineal , however, is supposed to have been about 20 cm. may include levies of men, as well as other exactions.

  211. The Yü Lan omits 財殫. I would propose the emended reading 力屈則中, etc. In view of the fact that we have 財竭 in the two preceding paragraphs, it seems probable that is a scribe’s mistake for , having been added afterwards to make sense. 中原內虛於家, literally: “Within the middle plains there is emptiness in the homes.” For 中原 cf. Shih Ching II 3 VI 3 and II 5 II 3 With regard to 十去其七, Tu Mu says: 家業十耗其七也, and Wang Hsi: 民費大半矣; that is, the people are mulcted not of ³⁄₁₀, but of ⁷⁄₁₀, of their income. But this is hardly to be extracted from our text. Ho Shih has a characteristic tag: 國以民為本民以食為天居人上者宜平重惜 “The people being regarded as the essential part of the State, and food as the people’s heaven, is it not right that those in authority should value and be careful of both?”

  212. The Yü Lan has several various readings here, the more important of which are for the less common (read pʽi), for , and 兵牛 for 丘牛, which latter, if right, must mean “oxen from the country districts” (cf. supra, “When their substance is drained⁠ ⁠…”). For the meaning of , see note 225. Capt. Calthrop omits to translate 丘牛大車.

  213. Because twenty cartloads will be consumed in the process of transporting one cartload to the front. According to Tsʽao Kung, a = 6 4 㪷, or 64 㪷, but according to Mêng Shih, 10 make a . The picul consisted of 70 catties (Tu Mu and others say 120). 𦮼秆, literally, “beanstalks and straw.”

  214. These are two difficult sentences, which I have translated in accordance with Mei Yao-chʽên’s paraphrase. We may incontinently reject Capt. Calthrop’s extraordinary translation of the first: “Wantonly to kill and destroy the enemy must be forbidden.” Tsʽao Kung quotes a jingle current in his day: 軍無財士不來軍無士不往. Tu Mu says: “Rewards are necessary in order to make the soldiers see the advantage of beating the enemy; thus, when you capture spoils from the enemy, they must be used as rewards, so that all your men may have a keen desire to fight, each on his own account.” Chang Yü takes as the direct object of , which is not so good.

  215. Capt. Calthop’s rendering is: “They who are the first to lay their hands on more than ten of the enemy’s chariots, should be encouraged.” We should have expected the gallant captain to see that such Samson-like prowess deserved something more substantial than mere encouragement. The Tʽu Shu omits , and has 以上 in place of the more archaic 已上.

  216. As Ho Shih remarks: 兵不可玩武不可黷 “Soldiers are not to be used as playthings. War is not a thing to be trifled with.” Sun Tzǔ here reiterates the main lesson which this chapter is intended to enforce.

  217. In the original text, there is a before the .

  218. A “army corps,” according to the Ssǔ-ma Fa, consisted nominally of 12500 men; according to Tsʽao Kung, a contained 500 men, a any number between 100 and 500, and a any number between 5 and 100. For the last two, however, Chang Yü gives the exact figures of 100 and 5 respectively.

    From corrigenda: 全軍, etc. The more I think about it, the more I prefer the rendering suggested in note 722.

  219. Here again, no modern strategist but will approve the words of the old Chinese general. Moltke’s greatest triumph, the capitulation of the huge French army at Sedan, was won practically without bloodshed.

  220. I.e., as Li Chʽüan says (伐其始謀也), in their very inception. Perhaps the word “baulk” falls short of expressing the full force of , which implies not an attitude of defence, whereby one might be content to foil the enemy’s stratagems one after another, but an active policy of counterattack. Ho Shih puts this very clearly in his note: “When the enemy has made a plan of attack against us, we must anticipate him by delivering our own attack first.”

  221. Isolating him from his allies. We must not forget that Sun Tzǔ, in speaking of hostilities, always has in mind the numerous states or principalities into which the China of his day was split up.

  222. When he is already in full strength.

  223. The use of the word is somewhat unusual, which may account for the reading of the modern text: 其下攻城.

  224. Another sound piece of military theory. Had the Boers acted upon it in 1899, and refrained from dissipating their strength before Kimberley, Mafeking, or even Ladysmith, it is more than probable that they would have been masters of the situation before the British were ready seriously to oppose them.

  225. It is not quite clear what were. Tsʽao Kung simply defines them as 大楯 “large shields,” but we get a better idea of them from Li Chʽüan, who says they were to protect the heads of those who were assaulting the city walls at close quarters. This seems to suggest a sort of Roman testudo, ready made. Tu Mu says they were “what are now termed 彭排” (wheeled vehicles used in repelling attacks, according to Kʽang Hsi), but this is denied by Chʽên Hao. See supra, II (“… spears and shields⁠ ⁠…”). The name is also applied to turrets on city walls. Of 轒轀 (fên yün) we get a fairly clear description from several commentators. They were wooden missile-proof structures on four wheels, propelled from within, covered over with raw hides, and used in seiges to convey parties of men to and from the walls, for the purpose of filling up the encircling moat with earth. Tu Mu adds that they are now called 木驢 “wooden donkeys.” Capt. Calthrop wrongly translates the term, “battering-rams.” I follow Tsʽao Kung in taking as a verb, coordinate and synonymous with . Those commentators who regard as an adjective equivalent to “long,” make presumably into a noun.

  226. The 距闉 (or , in the modern text) were great mounds or ramparts of earth heaped up to the level of the enemy’s walls in order to discover the weak parts in the defence, and also to destroy the 樓櫓 fortified turrets mentioned in the preceding note. Tu Yu quotes the Tso Chuan: 楚司馬子反乘堙而窺宋城也.

  227. Capt. Calthrop unaccountably omits this vivid simile, which, as Tsʽao Kung says, is taken from the spectacle of an army of ants climbing a wall. The meaning is that the general, losing patience at the long delay, may make a premature attempt to storm the place before his engines of war are ready.

  228. We are reminded of the terrible losses of the Japanese before Port Arthur, in the most recent siege which history has to record. The Tʽung Tien reads 不勝心之忿⁠ ⁠… 則殺士卒⁠ ⁠… 攻城之災. For 其忿 the Yü Lan has 心怒. Capt. Calthrop does not translate 而城不拔者, and mistranslates 此攻之災.

  229. Chia Lin notes that he only overthrows the , that is, the Government, but does no harm to individuals. The classical instance is Wu Wang, who after having put an end to the Yin dynasty was acclaimed “Father and mother of the people.”

  230. Owing to the double meanings of , (= ) and , the latter part of the sentence is susceptible of quite a different meaning: “And thus, the weapon not being blunted by use, its keenness remains perfect.” Chang Yü says that is “the advantage of a prosperous kingdom and a strong army.”

  231. Straightaway, without waiting for any further advantage.

  232. Note that does not refer to the enemy, as in the two preceding clauses. This sudden change of object is quite common in Chinese. Tu Mu takes exception to the saying; and at first sight, indeed, it appears to violate a fundamental principle of war. Tsʽao Kung, however, gives a clue to Sun Tzǔ’s meaning: 以二敵一則一術為正一術為奇 “Being two to the enemy’s one, we may use one part of our army in the regular way, and the other for some special diversion.” (For explanation of and , see note 275.) Chang Yü thus further elucidates the point: “If our force is twice as numerous as that of the enemy, it should be split up into two divisions, one to meet the enemy in front, and one to fall upon his rear; if he replies to the frontal attack, he may be crushed from behind; if to the rearward attack, he may be crushed in front. This is what is meant by saying that ‘one part may be used in the regular way, and the other for some special diversion.’ Tu Mu does not understand that dividing one’s army is simply an irregular, just as concentrating it is the regular, strategical method, and he is too hasty in calling this a mistake.”

  233. Li Chʽüan, followed by Ho Shih, gives the following paraphrase: 主客力敵惟善者戰 “If attackers and attacked are equally matched in strength, only the able general will fight.” He thus takes as though it were 能者, which is awkward.

  234. The Tʽu Shu has instead of , which is hardly distinguishable in sense from in the next clause. The meaning, “we can watch the enemy,” is certainly a great improvement on the above; but unfortunately there appears to be no very good authority for the variant. Chang Yü reminds us that the saying only applies if the other factors are equal; a small difference in numbers is often more than counterbalanced by superior energy and discipline.

  235. In other words: “C’est magnifique; mais ce n’est pas la guerre.

  236. cannot be restricted to anything so particular as in Capt. Calthrop’s translation, “divided in his allegiance.” It is simply keeping up the metaphor suggested by . As Li Chʽüan tersely puts it: 隙缺也將才不備兵必弱Chʽi, gap, indicates deficiency; if the general’s ability is not perfect (i.e. if he is not thoroughly versed in his profession), his army will lack strength.”

  237. Tsʽao Kung weakly defines as “control,” “direct.” Cf. chapter III (“He will win who has military capacity⁠ ⁠…”). But in reality it is one of those graphic metaphors which from time to time illuminate Sun Tzǔ’s work, and is rightfully explained by Li Chʽüan as = . He adds the comment: 如絆驥足無馳驟也. “It is like tying together the legs of a thoroughbred, so that it is unable to gallop.” One would naturally think of “the ruler” in this passage as being at home, and trying to direct the movements of his army from a distance. But the commentators understand just the reverse, and quote the saying of Tʽai Kung: 國不可以從外治軍不可以從中御 “A kingdom should not be governed from without, an army should not be directed from within.” Of course it is true that, during an engagement, or when in close touch with the enemy, the general should not be in the thick of his own troops, but a little distance apart. Otherwise, he will be liable to misjudge the position as a whole, and give wrong orders.

  238. Tsʽao Kung’s note is: 軍容不入國國容不入軍禮不可以治兵也, which may be freely translated: “The military sphere and the civil sphere are wholly distinct; you can’t handle an army in kid gloves.” And Chang Yü says: “Humanity and justice (仁義) are the principles on which to govern a state, but not an army; opportunism and flexibility (權變), on the other hand, are military rather than civic virtues.” 同三軍之政, “to assimilate the governing of the army”⁠—to that of a State, understood. The Tʽung Tien has inserted before , here and in the next paragraph.

  239. That is, he is not careful to use the right man in the right place.

  240. I follow Mei Yao-chʽên here. The other commentators make 不知 etc. refer, not to the ruler, as in the previous two ways (“By commanding the army⁠ ⁠…” and “By attempting to govern⁠ ⁠…”), but to the officers he employs. Thus Tu Yu says: 將若不知權變不可付以勢位 “If a general is ignorant of the principle of adaptability, he must not be entrusted with a position of authority.” Tu Mu quotes 黃石公: “The skilful employer of men will emply the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man. For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage in action, the covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man has no fear of death.” The Tʽung Tien reads 軍覆疑, which Tu Yu explains as 覆敗 “is utterly defeated.” Capt. Calthrop gives a very inaccurate rendering: “Ignorant of the situation of the army, to interfere in its dispositions.”

  241. Most of the commentators take in the sense of , which it seems to bear also in the Li Chi, 玉藻, I 18. ( is there given as its equivalent, but Legge tries notwithstanding to retain the more usual sense, translating “draw⁠ ⁠… back,” which is hardly defensible.) Tu Mu and Wang Hsi, however, think 引勝 means “leading up to the enemy’s victory.”

  242. Chang Yü says: “If he can fight, he advances and takes the offensive; if he cannot fight, he retreats and remains on the defensive. He will invariably conquer who knows whether it is right to take the offensive or the defensive.”

  243. This is not merely the general’s ability to estimate numbers correctly, as Li Chʽüan and others make out. Chang Yü expounds the saying more satisfactorily: “By applying the art of war, it is possible with a lesser force to defeat a greater, and vice versa. The secret lies in an eye for locality, and in not letting the right moment slip. Thus Wu Tzǔ says: ‘With a superior force, make for easy ground; with an inferior one, make for difficult ground.’ ”

  244. Tsʽao Kung refers 上下 less well to sovereign and subjects.

  245. Tu Yu quotes 王子 as saying: 指授在君決戰在將也 “It is the sovereign’s function to give broad instructions, but to decide on battle is the function of the general.” It is needless to dilate on the military disasters which have been caused by undue interference with operations in the field on the part of the home government. Napoleon undoubtedly owed much of his extraordinary success to the fact that he was not hampered by any central authority⁠—that he was, in fact, and in one.

  246. Literally, “These five things are knowledge of the principle of victory.”

  247. Li Chʽüan cites the case of 苻堅 Fu Chien, prince of Chʽin, who in 383 AD marched with a vast army against the Chin Emperor. When warned not to despise an enemy who could command the services of such men as 謝安 Hsieh An and 桓沖 Huan Chʽung, he boastfully replied: “I have the population of eight provinces at my back, infantry and horsemen to the number of one million; why, they could dam up the Yangtsze River itself by merely throwing their whips into the stream. What danger have I to fear?” Nevertheless, his forces were soon after disastrously routed at the Fei River, and he was obliged to beat a hasty retreat.

  248. The modern text, represented by the 北堂書鈔 and Tʽu Shu, has 必敗, which I should be inclined to adopt in preference to here, though the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan both have the latter. Chang Yü offers the best commentary on 知彼知己. He says that these words “have reference to attack and defence: knowing the enemy enables you to take the offensive, knowing yourself enables you to stand on the defensive.” He adds: 攻是守之機守是攻之策 “Attack is the secret of defence; defence is the planning of an attack.” It would be hard to find a better epitome of the root-principle of war.

  249. is a very comprehensive and somewhat vague term. Literally, “form,” “body,” it comes to mean “appearance,” “attitude” or “disposition;” and here it is best taken as something between, or perhaps combining, “tactics” and “disposition of troops.” Tsʽao Kung explains it as 軍之形也, 我動彼應兩敵相察情也 “marching and countermarching on the part of the two armies with a view to discovering each other’s condition.” Tu Mu says: “It is through the dispositions of an army that its condition may be discovered. Conceal your dispositions (無形), and your condition will remain secret, which leads to victory; show your dispositions, and your condition will become patent, which leads to defeat.” Wang Hsi remarks that the good general can 變化其形因敵以制勝 “secure success by modifying his tactics to meet those of the enemy.” In the modern text, the title of the chapter appears as 軍形, which Capt. Calthrop incorrectly translates “the order of battle.”

  250. That is, of course, by a mistake on his part. Capt. Calthrop has: “The causes of defeat come from within; victory is born in the enemy’s camp,” which, though certainly an improvement on his previous attempt, is still incorrect.

  251. “By concealing the disposition of his troops, covering up his tracks, and taking unremitting precautions” (Chang Yü).

  252. The original text reads 使敵之可勝, which the modern text has further modified into 使敵之必可勝. Capt. Calthrop makes out the impossible meaning, “and further render the enemy incapable of victory.”

  253. Capt. Calthrop translates: “The conditions necessary for victory may be present, but they cannot always be obtained,” which is more or less unintelligible.

  254. For 不可勝 I retain the sense which it undoubtedly bears at the beginning of the chapter (“Sun Tzǔ said⁠ ⁠…” through “Thus the good fighter⁠ ⁠…”), in spite of the fact that the commentators are all against me. The meaning they give, “He who cannot conquer takes the defensive,” is plausible enough, but it is highly improbable that should suddenly become active in this way. An incorrect variant in the Yü Lan is 不可勝則守可勝則攻.

  255. Literally, “hides under the ninth earth,” which is a metaphor indicating the utmost secrecy and concealment, so that the enemy may not know his whereabouts. The 九地 of this passage have of course no connection with the 九地 “Nine situations” of chap. XI

  256. Another metaphor, implying that he falls on his adversary like a thunderbolt, against which there is no time to prepare. This is the opinion of most of the commentators, though Tsʽao Kung, followed by Tu Yu, explains as the hills, rivers, and other natural features which will afford shelter or protection to the attacked, and as the phases of weather which may be turned to account by the attacking party. Capt. Calthrop’s “The skilful in attack push to the topmost heaven” conveys no meaning at all.

  257. Capt. Calthrop draws on a fertile imagination for the following: “If these precepts be observed, victory is certain.”

  258. As Tsʽao Kung remarks, 當見未萌 “the thing is to see the plant before it has germinated,” to foresee the event before the action has begun. Li Chʽüan alludes to the story of Han Hsin who, when about to attack the vastly superior army of Chao, which was strongly entrenched in the city of 成安 Chʽêng-an, said to his officers: “Gentlemen, we are going to annihilate the enemy, and shall meet again at dinner.” The officers hardly took his words seriously, and gave a very dubious assent. But Han Hsin had already worked out in his mind the details of a clever stratagem, whereby, as he foresaw, he was able to capture the city and inflict a crushing defeat on his adversary. For the full story, see 前漢書, chap. 34, 韓信傳. Capt. Calthrop again blunders badly with: “A victory, even if popularly proclaimed as such by the common folk, may not be a true success.”

  259. True excellence being, as Tu Mu says: 陰謀潛運攻心伐謀勝敵之日曾不血刃 “To plan secretly, to move surreptitiously, to foil the enemy’s intentions and baulk his schemes, so that at last the day may be won without shedding a drop of blood.” Sun Tzǔ reserves his approbation for things that

    the world’s coarse thumb
    And finger fail to plumb.

  260. 秋毫 is explained as the fur of a hare, which is finest in autumn, when it begins to grow afresh. The phrase is a very common one in Chinese writers. Cf. Mencius, I 1 VII 10, and Chuang Tzǔ, 知北游, et. al.

  261. Ho Shih gives as real instances of strength, sharp sight and quick hearing: 烏獲 Wu Huo, who chould lift a tripod weighing 250 stone; 離朱 Li Chu, who at a distance of a hundred paces could see objects no bigger than a mustard seed; and 師曠 Shih Kʽuang, a blind musician who could hear the footsteps of a mosquito.

  262. The original text, followed by the Tʽu Shu, has 勝於易勝者也. But this is an alteration evidently intended to smooth the awkwardness of 勝勝易勝者也, which means literally: “one who, conquering, excels in easy conquering.” Mei Yao-chʽên says: “He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks below the surface of things, wins with ease.”

  263. Tu Mu explains this very well: “Inasmuch as his victories are gained over circumstances that have not come to light, the world at large knows nothing of them, and he wins no reputation for wisdom; inasmuch as the hostile state submits before there has been any bloodshed, he receives no credit for courage.”

  264. Chʽên Hao says: “He plans no superfluous marches, he devises no futile attacks.” The connection of ideas is thus explained by Chang Yü: “One who seeks to conquer by sheer strength, clever though he may be at winning pitched battles, is also liable on occasion to be vanquished; whereas he who can look into the future and discern conditions that are not yet manifest, will never make a blunder and therefore invariably win.” Li Chʽüan thinks that the character should be “to have doubts.” But it is better not to tamper with the text, especially when no improvement in sense is the result.

  265. The Tʽu Shu omits . is here = . Chia Lin says it is put for in the sense of ; but this is farfetched. Capt. Calthrop altogether ignores the important word .

  266. A 不可為之計 “counsel of perfection,” as Tu Mu truly observes. need not be confined strictly to the actual ground occupied by the troops. It includes all the arrangements and preparations which a wise general will make to increase the safety of this army.

  267. Ho Shih thus expounds the paradox: “In warfare, first lay plans which will ensure victory, and then lead your army to battle; if you will not begin with stratagem but rely on brute strength alone, victory will no longer be assured.”

  268. For and , see supra, I (“These are: (1) The Moral Law⁠ ⁠…” sqq.) I think that Chang Yü is wrong in altering their signification here, and taking them as 為戰之道 and 制敵之法 respectively.

  269. It is not easy to distinguish the four terms 度量數稱 very clearly. The first seems to be surveying and measurement of the ground, which enable us to form an estimate of the enemy’s strength, and to make calculations based on the data thus obtained; we are thus led to a general weighing-up, or comparison of the enemy’s chances with our own; if the latter turn the scale, then victory ensues. The chief difficulty lies in , which some commentators take as a calculation of numbers, thereby making it mearly synonymous with . Perhaps is rather a consideration of the enemy’s general position or condition ( or 形勢), while is the estimate of his numerical strength. On the other hand, Tu Mu defines as 機數, and adds: 强弱已定然後能用機變數也 “the question of relative strength having been settled, we can bring the varied resources of cunning into play.” Ho Shih seconds this interpretation, which is weakened, however, by the fact that is given as logically consequent on ; this certainly points to the latter being a calculation of numbers. Of Capt. Calthrop’s version the less said the better.

  270. Literally, “a victorious army is like an i (20 oz.) weighed against a shu (¹⁄₂₄ oz.); a routed army as a shu weighed against an i.” The point is simply the enormous advantage which a disciplined force, flushed with victory, has over one demoralised by defeat. Legge, in his note on Mencius, I 2 IX 2, makes the to be 24 Chinese ounces, and corrects Chu Hsi’s statement that it equalled 20 oz. only. But Li Chʽüan of the Tʽang dynasty here gives the same figure as Chu Hsi.

  271. The construction here is slightly awkward and elliptical, but the general sense is plain. The Tʽu Shu omits 民也. A = 8 or Chinese feet.

  272. here is said to be an older form of ; Sun Tzǔ, however, would seem to have used the former in the sense of “power,” and the latter only in the sense of “circumstances.” The fuller title 兵勢 is found in the Tʽu Shu and the modern text. Wang Hsi expands it into 積勢之變 “the application, in various ways, of accumulated power;” and Chang Yü says: 兵勢以成然後仼勢以取勝 “When the soldiers’ energy has reached its height, it may be used to secure victory.” Cf. X (“If you are situated at a great distance⁠ ⁠…”), where is translated “strength,” though it might also be “conditions.” The three words , and have been much confused. It appears from the Shuo Wên that the last character is post-classical, so that Sun Tzǔ must have used either or in all senses.

  273. That is, cutting up the army into regiments, companies, etc., with subordinate officers in command of each. Tu Mu reminds us of Han Hsin’s famous reply to the first Han Emperor, who once said to him: “How large an army do you think I could lead?” “Not more than 100,000 men, your Majesty.” “And you?” asked the Emperor. “Oh!” he answered, “the more the better” (多多益辦耳). Chang Yü gives the following curious table of the subdivisions of an army:⁠—5 men make a ; 2 make a ; 5 make a ; 2 make a ; 2 make a ; 2 make a ; 2 make a ; 2 make a ; 2 make a . A or army corps thus works out at 3200 men. But cf. note 218. For , see note 175. It is possible that in that paragraph may also be used in the above technical sense.

  274. One must be careful to avoid translating 鬥衆 “fighting against a large number,” no reference to the enemy being intended. is explained by Tsʽao Kung as denoting flags and banners, by means of which every soldier may recognise his own particular regiment or company, and thus confusion may be prevented. he explains as drums and gongs, which from the earliest times were used to sound the advance and the retreat respectively. Tu Mu defines as 陳形 “marshalling the troops in order,” and takes as the flags and banners. Wang Hsi also dissents from Tsʽao Kung, referring to the ordering of the troops by means of banners, drums and gongs, and to the various names by which the regiments might be distinguised. There is much to be said for this view.

  275. For , there is another reading , “all together,” adopted by Wang Hsi and Chang Yü. We now come to one of the most interesting parts of Sun Tzǔ’s treatise, the discussion of the and the . As it is by no means easy to grasp the full significance of these two terms, or to render them at all consistently by good English equivalents, it may be as well to tabulate some of the commentators’ remarks on the subject before proceeding further. Li Chʽüan: 當敵為正傍出為奇 “Facing the enemy is chêng, making lateral diversions is chʽi.” Chia Lin: 當敵以正陳取勝以奇兵 “In presence of the enemy, your troops should be arrayed in normal fashion, but in order to secure victory abnormal manoeuvres must be employed.” Mei Yao-chʽên: 動為奇靜為正靜以待之動以勝之Chʽi is active, chêng is passive; passivity means waiting for an opportunity, activity brings the victory itself.” Ho Shih: 我之正使敵視之為奇我之奇使敵視之為正正亦為奇奇亦為正 “We must cause the enemy to regard our straightforward attack as one that is secretly designed, and vice versa; thus chêng may also be chʽi, and chʽi may also be chêng.” He instances the famous exploit of Han Hsin, who when marching ostensibly against 臨晉 Lin-chin (now 朝邑 Chao-i in Shensi), suddenly threw a large force across the Yellow River in wooden tubs, utterly disconcerting his opponent. (Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 34.) Here, we are told, the march on Lin-chin was , and the surprise manoeuvre was . Chang Yü gives the following summary of opinions on the words: “Military writers do not all agree with regard to the meaning of chʽi and chêng. 尉繚子 Wei Liao Tzǔ [4th cent. BC] says: 正兵貴先奇兵貴後 ‘Direct warfare favours frontal attacks, indirect warfare attacks from the rear.’ Tsʽao Kung says: ‘Going straight out to join battle is a direct operation; appearing on the enemy’s rear is an indirect manoeuvre.’ 李衛公 Li Wei-kung [6th and 7th cent. AD] says: ‘In war, to march straight ahead is chêng; turning movements, on the other hand, are chʽi.’ These writers simply regard chêng as chêng, and chʽi as chʽi; they do not note that the two are mutually interchangeable and run into each other like the two sides of a circle [see infra, ‘The direct and the indirect lead on⁠ ⁠…’]. A comment of the Tʽang Emperor Tʽai Tsung goes to the root of the matter: ‘A chʽi manoeuvre may be chêng, if we make the enemy look upon it as chêng; then our real attack will be chʽi, and vice versa. The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.’ ” To put it perhaps a little more clearly: any attack or other operation is , on which the enemy has had his attention fixed; whereas that is , which takes him by surprise or comes from an unexpected quarter. If the enemy perceives a movement which is meant to be , it immediately becomes .

  276. 虛實, literally “the hollow and the solid,” is the title of chap. VI tuan is the Tʽu Shu reading, hsia that of the standard text. It appears from Kʽang Hsi that there has been much confusion between the two characters, and indeed, it is probable that one of them has really crept into the language as a mistake for the other.

  277. Chang Yü says: 徐發奇或擣其旁或擊其後 “Steadily develop indirect tactics, either by pounding the enemy’s flanks or falling on his rear.” A brilliant example of “indirect tactics” which decided the fortunes of a campaign was Lord Roberts’ night march round the Peiwar Kotal in the second Afghan war.775

  278. is the universally accepted emendation for , the reading of the 北堂書鈔.

  279. Tu Yu and Chang Yü understand this of the permutations of and . But at present Sun Tzǔ is not speaking of at all, unless, indeed, we suppose with 鄭友賢 Chêng Yu-hsien that a clause relating to it has fallen out of the text. Of course, as has already been pointed out, the two are so inextricably interwoven in all military operations, that they cannot really be considered apart. Here we simply have an expression, in figurative language, of the almost infinite resource of a great leader.

  280. 宮商角微羽

  281. 靑黃赤白黑 blue, yellow, red, white, and black.

  282. 酸辛醎甘苦 sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter.

  283. The Tʽu Shu adds . The final may refer either to the circle or, more probably, to the 奇正之變 understood. Capt. Calthrop is wrong with: “They are a mystery that none can penetrate.”

  284. For the Yü Lan reads , which is also supported by a quotation in the 呂氏春秋 (3rd cent. BC). in this context is a word which really defies the best efforts of the translator. Tu Mu says that it is equivalent to 節量遠近 “the measurement of estimation of distance.” But this meaning does not quite fit the illustrative simile below (“Energy may be likened⁠ ⁠…”). As applied to the falcon, it seems to me to denote that instinct of self-restraint which keeps the bird from swooping on its quarry until the right moment, together with the power of judging when the right moment has arrived. The analogous quality in soldiers is the highly important one of being able to reserve their fire until the very instant at which it will be most effective. When the Victory went into action at Trafalgar at hardly more than drifting pace, she was for several minutes exposed to a storm of shot and shell before replying with a single gun. Nelson coolly waited until he was within close range, when the broadside he brought to bear worked fearful havoc on the enemy’s nearest ships. That was a case of .

  285. Tu Yu defines here by the word , which is very like “decision” in English. is certainly used in a very unusual sense, even if, as the commentators, it = . This would have reference to the measurement of distance mentioned above, letting the enemy get near before striking. But I cannot help thinking that Sun Tzǔ meant to use the word in a figurative sense comparable to our own idiom “short and sharp.” Cf. Wang Hsi’s note, which after describing the falcon’s mode of attack, proceeds: 兵之乘當如是耳 “This is just how the ‘psychological moment’ should be seized in war.” I do not care for Capt. Calthrop’s rendering: “The spirit of the good fighter is terrifying, his occasions sudden.”

  286. “Energy” seems to be the best equivalent here for , because the comparison implies that the force is potential, being stored up in the bent crossbow until released by the finger on the trigger. None of the commentators seem to grasp the real point of the simile.

  287. 形圓, literally “formation circular,” is explained by Li Chʽüan as 無向背也 “without back or front.” Mei Yao-chʽên says: “The subdivisions of the army having been previously fixed, and the various signals agreed upon, the separating and joining, the dispersing and collecting which will take place in the course of a battle, may give the appearance of disorder when no real disorder is possible. Your formation may be without head or tail, your dispositions all topsy-turvy, and yet a rout of your forces quite out of the question.” It is a little difficult to decide whether 鬥亂 and 形圓 should not be taken as imperatives: “fight in disorder (for the purpose of deceiving the enemy), and you will be secure against real disorder.” Cf. I: 亂而取之. (“Hold out baits⁠ ⁠…”)

  288. In order to make the translation intelligible, it is necessary to tone down the sharply paradoxical form of the original. Tsʽao Kung throws out a hint of the meaning in his brief note: 皆毁形匿情也 “These things all serve to destroy formation and conceal one’s condition.” But Tu Mu is the first to put it quite plainly: “If you wish to feign confusion in order to lure the enemy on, you must first have perfect discipline; if you with to display timidity in order to entrap the enemy, you must have extreme courage; if you wish to parade your weakness in order to make the enemy overconfident, you must have exceeding strength.”

  289. See supra. (“The control of a large force⁠ ⁠…”)

  290. It is passing strange that the commentators should understand here as “circumstances”⁠—a totally different sense from that which it has previously borne in this chapter. Thus Tu Mu says: 見有利之勢而不動敵人以我為實怯也 “seeing that we are favourably circumstanced and yet make no move, the enemy will believe that we are really afraid.”

  291. Chang Yü relates the following anecdote of Kao Tsu, the first Han Emperor: “Wishing to crush the Hsiung-nu, he sent out spies to report on their condition. But the Hsiung-nu, forewarned, carefully concealed all their able-bodied men and well-fed horses, and only allowed infirm soldiers and emaciated cattle to be seen. The result was that the spies one and all recommended the Emperor to deliver his attack. 婁敬 Lou Ching alone opposed them, saying: ‘When two countries go to war, they are naturally inclined to make an ostentatious display of their strength. Yet our spies have seen nothing but old age and infirmity. This is surely some ruse on the part of the enemy, and it would be unwise for us to attack.’ The Emperor, however, disregarding this advice, fell into the trap and found himself surrounded at 白登 Po-têng.”

  292. Tsʽao Kung’s note is 見羸形也 “Make a display of weakness and want,” but Tu Mu rightly points out that does not refer only to weakness: “If our force happens to be superior to the enemy’s, weakness may be simulated in order to lure him on; but if inferior, he must be led to believe that we are strong, in order that he may keep off. In fact, all the enemy’s movements should be determined by the signs that we choose to give him.” The following anecdote of 孫臏 Sun Pin, a descendant of Sun Wu, is related at length in the 史記, chap. 65: In 341 BC, the Chʽi State being at war with Wei, sent 田忌 Tʽien Chi and Sun Pin against the general 龐涓 Pʽang Chüan, who happened to be a deadly personal enemy of the latter. Sun Pin said: “The Chʽi State has a reputation for cowardice, and therefore our adversary despises us. Let us turn this circumstance to account.” Accordingly, when the army had crossed the border into Wei territory, he gave orders to show 100,000 fires on the first night, 50,000 on the next, and the night after only 20,000. Pʽang Chüan pursued them hotly, saying to himself: “I knew these men of Chʽi were cowards: their numbers have already fallen away by more than half.” In his retreat, Sun Pin came to a narrow defile, which he calculated that his pursuers would reach after dark. Here he had a tree stripped of its bark, and inscribed upon it the words: “Under this tree shall Pʽang Chüan die.” Then, as night began to fall, he placed a strong body of archers in ambush near by, with orders to shoot directly they saw a light. Later on, Pʽang Chüan arrived at the spot, and noticing the tree, struck a light in order to read what was written on it. His body was immediately riddled by a volley of arrows, and his whole army thrown into confusion. (The above is Tu Mu’s version of the story; the Shih Chi, less dramatically but probably with more historical truth, makes Pʽang Chüan cut his own throat with an exclamation of despair, after the rout of his army.)

  293. here = .

  294. This would appear to be the meaning if we retain , which Mei Yao-chʽên explains as 精卒 “men of spirit.” The Tʽu Shu reads , an emendation suggested by 李靖 Li Ching. The meaning then would be, “He lies in wait with the main body of his troops.”

  295. Tu Mu says: “He first of all considers the power of his army in the bulk; afterwards he takes individual talent into account, and uses each man according to his capabilities. He does not demand perfection from the untalented.”

  296. Another reading has instead of . It would be interesting if Capt. Calthrop could tell us where the following occurs in the Chinese: “yet, when an opening or advantage shows, he pushes it to its limits.”

  297. Tsʽao Kung calls this 任自然勢 “the use of natural or inherent power.” Capt. Calthrop ignores the last part of the sentence entirely. In its stead he has: “So await the opportunity, and so act when the opportunity arrives”⁠—another absolutely gratuitous interpolation. The Tʽung Tien omits .

  298. The Tʽung Tien omits . The chief lesson of this chapter, in Tu Mu’s opinion, is the paramount importance in war of rapid evolutions and sudden rushes. “Great results,” he adds, “can thus be achieved with small forces.”

  299. Chang Yü attempts to explain the sequence of chapters as follows: “Chapter IV, on Tactical Dispositions, treated of the offensive and the defensive; chapter V, on Energy, dealt with direct and indirect methods. He studies the art of varying and combining these two methods before proceeding to the subject of weak and strong points. For the use of direct or indirect methods arises out of attack and defence, and the perception of weak and strong points depends again on the above methods. Hence the present chapter comes immediately after the chapter on Energy.”

  300. Instead of , the Yü Lan has in both clauses the stronger word . For the antithesis between and , cf. I (“If he is taking his ease⁠ ⁠…”), where however is used as a verb.

  301. The next paragraph makes it clear that does not merely mean, as Tu Mu says, 令敵來就我 “to make the enemy approach me,” but rather to make him go in any direction I please. It is thus practically synonymous with . Cf. one of Tu Mu’s own notes on V, quoted in note 292. One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or fights not at all.776

  302. In the first case, he will entice him with a bait; in the second, he will strike at some important point which the enemy will have to defend.

  303. This passage may be cited as evidence against Mei Yao-Chʽên’s interpretation of “If he is taking his ease⁠ ⁠…” in chapter I.

  304. is probably an older form than , the reading of the original text. Both are given in the 說文.

  305. The subject to is still 善戰者; but these clauses would read better as direct admonitions, and in the next sentence we find Sun Tzǔ dropping insensibly into the imperative.

  306. The original text, adopted by the Tʽu Shu, has 出其所不趨; it has been altered to suit the context and the commentaries of Tsʽao Kung and Ho Shih, who evidently read 必趨. The other reading would mean: “Appear at points to which the enemy cannot hasten;” but in this case there is something awkward in the use of . Capt. Calthrop is wrong of course with “appearing where the enemy is not.”

  307. We must beware of understanding 無人之地 as “uninhabited country.” Sun Tzǔ habitually uses in the sense of , e.g. supra (“Therefore the clever combatant⁠ ⁠…”). Tsʽao Kung sums up very well: 出空擊虛避其所守擊其不意 “Emerge from the void [q.d. like ‘a bolt from the blue’], strike at vulnerable points, shun places that are defended, attack in unexpected quarters.” The difference of meaning between and is worth noting.

  308. 所不守 is of course hyperbolical; Wang Hsi rightly explains it as “weak points; that is to say, where the general is lacking in capacity, or the soldiers in spirit; where the walls are not strong enough, or the precautions not strict enough; where relief comes too late, or provisions are too scanty, or the defenders are variance amongst themselves.”

  309. I.e., where there are none of the weak points mentioned above. There is rather a nice point involved in the interpretation of this latter clause. Tu Mu, Chʽên Hao, and Mei Yao-chʽên assume the meaning to be: “In order to make your defence quite safe, you must defend even those places that are not likely to be attacked;” and Tu Mu adds: “How much more, then, those that will be attacked.” Taken thus, however, the clause balances less well with the preceding⁠—always a consideration in the highly antithetical style which is natural to the Chinese. Chang Yü, therefore, seems to come nearer the mark in saying: “He who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven [see chapter IV, ‘The general who is skilled in defence⁠ ⁠…’], making it impossible for the enemy to guard against him. This being so, the places that I shall attack are precisely those that the enemy cannot defend⁠ ⁠… He who is skilled in defence hides in the most secret recesses of the earth, making it impossible for the enemy to estimate his whereabouts. This being so, the places that I shall hold are precisely those that the enemy cannot attack.”

  310. An aphorism which puts the whole art of war into a nutshell.

  311. Literally, “without form or sound,” but it is said of course with reference to the enemy. Chang Yü, whom I follow, draws no sharp distinction between and , but Tu Mu and others think that indicates the secrecy to be observed on the defensive, and the rapidity to be displayed in attack. The Yü Lan text differs considerably from ours, reading: 微乎微乎故能隱於常形神乎神乎故能為敵司命.

  312. The Tʽung Tien has 故能為變化司命. Capt. Calthrop’s version of this paragraph is so remarkable that I cannot refrain from quoting it in full: “Now the secrets of the art of offence are not to be easily apprehended, as a certain shape or noise can be understood, of the senses; but when these secrets are once learnt, the enemy is mastered.”

  313. The second member of the sentence is weak, because 不可及 is nearly tautologous with 不可追. The Yü Lan reads for .

  314. Tu Mu says: “If the enemy is the invading party, we can cut his line of communications and occupy the roads by which he will have to return; if we are the invaders, we may direct our attack against the sovereign himself.” It is clear that Sun Tzǔ, unlike certain generals in the late Boer war, was no believer in frontal attacks.

  315. In order to preserve the parallelism with the previous paragraph, I should prefer to follow the Tʽu Shu text, which inserts before 畫地. This extremely concise expression is intelligibly paraphrased by Chia Lin: 雖未修壘壍 “even though we have constructed neither wall nor ditch.” The real crux of the passage lies in 乖其所之也. of course = . Tsʽao Kung defines by the word , which is perhaps a case of obscurum per obscurius. Li Chʽüan, however, says: 設奇異而疑之 “we puzzle him by strange and unusual dispositions;” and Tu Mu finally clinches the meaning by three illustrative anecdotes⁠—one of 諸葛亮 Chu-ko Liang, who when occupying 陽平 Yang-pʽing and about to be attacked by 司馬懿 Ssǔ-ma I, suddenly struck his colours, stopped the beating of the drums, and flung open the city gates, showing only a few men engaged in sweeping and sprinkling the ground. This unexpected proceeding had the intended effect; for Ssǔ-ma I, suspecting an ambush, actually drew off his army and retreated. What Sun Tzǔ is advocating here, therefore, is nothing more or less than the timely use of “bluff.” Capt. Calthrop translates: “and prevent the enemy from attacking by keeping him in suspense,” which shows that he has not fully grasped the meaning of .

  316. The conclusion is perhaps not very obvious, but Chang Yü (after Mei Yao-chʽên) rightly explains it thus: “If the enemy’s dispositions are visible, we can make for him in one body; whereas, our own dispositions being kept secret, the enemy will be obliged to divide his forces in order to guard against attack from every quarter.” is here used as an active verb: “to make to appear.” See IV, note 249. Capt. Calthrop’s “making feints” is quite wrong.

  317. The original text has 以敵攻其一也, which in accordance with the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan has been altered as above. I adopt the more plausible reading of the Tʽu Shu: 是以十攻其一也, in spite of having to refer to ourselves and not to the enemy. Thus Tu Yu and Mei Yao-chʽên both regard as the undivided force, consisting of so many parts, and as each of the isolated fractions of the enemy. The alteration of into can hardly be right, though the true text might conceivably have been 是以十共攻其一也.

  318. For , the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have . Tu Yu, followed by the other commentators, arbitrarily defines as 少而易勝 “few and easy to conquer,” but only succeeds thereby in making the sentence absolutely pointless. As for Capt. Calthrop’s translation: “In superiority of numbers there is economy of strength,” its meaning is probably known to himself alone. In justification of my own rendering of , I would refer to Lun Yü IV 2 and VII 25 (3).

  319. Sheridan once explained the reason of General Grant’s victories by saying that “while his opponents were kept fully employed wondering what he was going to do, he was thinking most of what he was going to do himself.”

  320. In Frederick the Great’s Instructions to His Generals we read: “A defensive war is apt to betray us into too frequent detachment. Those generals who have had but little experience attempt to protect every point, while those who are better acquainted with their profession, having only the capital object in view, guard against a decisive blow, and acquiesce in smaller misfortunes to avoid greater.”

  321. The highest generalship, in Col. Henderson’s words, is “to compel the enemy to disperse his army, and then to concentrate superior force against each fraction in turn.”

  322. There is nothing about “defeating” anybody in this sentence, as Capt. Calthrop translates. What Sun Tzǔ evidently has in mind is that nice calculation of distances and that masterly employment of strategy which enable a general to divide his army for the purpose of a long and rapid march, and afterwards to effect a junction at precisely the right spot and the right hour in order to confront the enemy in overwhelming strength. Among many such successful junctions which military history records, one of the most dramatic and decisive was the appearance of Blücher just at the critical moment on the field of Waterloo.

  323. The Chinese of this last sentence is a little lacking in precision, but the mental picture we are required to draw is probably that of an army advancing towards a given rendezvous in separate columns, each of which has orders to be there on a fixed date. If the general allows the various detachments to proceed at haphazard, without precise instructions as to the time and place of meeting, the enemy will be able to annihilate the army in detail. Chang Yü’s note may be worth quoting here: “If we do not know the place where our opponents mean to concentrate or the day on which they will join battle, our unity will be forfeited through our preparations for defence, and the positions we hold will be insecure. Suddenly happening upon a powerful foe, we shall be brought to battle in a flurried condition, and no mutual support will be possible between wings, vanguard, or rear, especially if there is any great distance between the foremost and hindmost divisions of the army.”

  324. Capt. Calthrop omits 以吾度之, and his translation of the remainder is flabby and inaccurate. As Sun Tzǔ was in the service of the Wu State, it has been proposed to read instead of ⁠—a wholly unnecessary tampering with the text. Yüeh coincided roughly with the present province of Chehkiang. Li Chʽüan very strangely takes not as the proper name, but in the sense of “to surpass.” No other commentator follows him. 勝敗 belongs to the class of expressions like 遠近 “distance,” 大小 “magnitude,” etc., to which the Chinese have to resort in order to express abstract ideas of degree. The Tʽu Shu, however, omits .

  325. Alas for these brave words! The long feud between the two states ended in 473 BC with the total defeat of Wu by 勾踐 Kou Chien and its incorporation in Yüeh. This was doubtless long after Sun Tzǔ’s death. With his present assertion compare chapter IV: 勝可知而不可為, “Hence the saying: One may know how to conquer⁠ ⁠…” (which is the obviously mistaken reading of the Yü Lan here). Chang Yü is the only one to point out the seeming discrepancy, which he thus goes on to explain: “In the chapter on Tactical Dispositions it is said, ‘One may know how to conquer without being able to do it,’ whereas here we have the statement that ‘victory can be achieved.’ The explanation is, that in the former chapter, where the offensive and defensive are under discussion, it is said if the enemy is fully prepared, one cannot make certain of beating him. But the present passage refers particularly to the soldiers of Yüeh who, according to Sun Tzǔ’s calculations, will be kept in ignorance of the time and place of the impending struggle. That is why he says here that victory can be achieved.”

  326. Capt. Calthrop quite unwarrantably translates: “If the enemy be many in number, prevent him,” etc.

  327. This is the first of four similarly constructed sentences, all of which present decided difficulties. Chang Yü explains 知得失之計 as 知其計之得失. This is perhaps the best way of taking the words, though Chia Lin, referring to ourselves and not the enemy, offers the alternative of 我得彼失之計皆先知也 “Know beforehand all plans conducive to our success and to the enemy’s failure.”

  328. Instead of , the Tʽung Tien, Yü Lan, and also Li Chʽüan’s text have , which the latter explains as “the observation of omens,” and Chia Lin simply as “watching and waiting.” is defined by Tu Mu as 激作, and Chang Yü tells us that by noting the joy or anger shown by the enemy on being thus distrubed, we shall be able to conclude whether his policy is to lie low or the reverse. He instances the action of Chu-ko Liang, who sent the scornful present of a woman’s headdress to Ssǔ-ma I, in order to goad him out of his Fabian tactics.

  329. Two commentators, Li Chʽüan and Chang Yü, take 形之 in the sense of 示之 “put on specious appearances.” The former says: “You may either deceive the enemy by a show of weakness⁠—striking your colours and silencing your drums; or by a show of strength⁠—making a hollow display of campfires and regimental banners.” And the latter quotes chapter V (“Thus one who is skilful⁠ ⁠…”), where 形之 certainly seems to bear this sense. On the other hand, I would point to earlier in this chapter (“By discovering the enemy’s dispositions⁠ ⁠…”), where must with equal certainty be active. It is hard to choose between the two interpretations, but the context here agrees better, I think, with the one that I have adopted. Another difficulty arises over 死生之地, which most of the commentators, thinking no doubt of the 死地 in chapter XI (“The art of war recognizes⁠ ⁠…”), refer to the actual ground on which the enemy is encamped. The notes of Chia Lin and Mei Yao-chʽên, however, seem to favour my view. The same phrase has a somewhat different meaning in chapter I. (“It is a matter of life and death⁠ ⁠…”)

  330. Tu Yu is right, I think, in attributing this force to ; Tsʽao Kung defines it simply as . Capt. Calthrop surpasses himself with the staggering translation “Flap the wings”! Can the Latin cornu (in its figurative sense) have been at the back of his mind?

  331. Cf. chapter IV. (“Standing on the defensive⁠ ⁠…”)

  332. The piquancy of the paradox evaporates in translation. 無形 is perhaps not so much actual invisibility (see supra, “O divine art⁠ ⁠…”) as “showing no sign” of what you mean to do, of the plans that are formed in your brain.

  333. 深閒 is expanded by Tu Mu into 雖有閒者深來窺我. (For , see XIII, note 727 on heading.) He explains 知者 in like fashion: 雖有智能之士亦不能謀我也 “though the enemy may have clever and capable officers, they will not be able to lay any plans against us.”

  334. All the commentators except Li Chʽüan make refer to the enemy. So Tsʽao Kung: 因敵形而立勝. is defined as . The Tʽu Shu has , with the same meaning. See chapter IV (“He wins his battles⁠ ⁠…”). The Yü Lan reads , evidently a gloss.

  335. I.e., everybody can see superficially how a battle is won; what they cannot see is the long series of plans and combinations which has preceded the battle. It seems justifiable, then, to render the first by “tactics” and the second by “strategy.”

  336. As Wang Hsi sagely remarks: “There is but one root-principle () underlying victory, but the tactics () which lead up to it are infinite in number.” With this compare Col. Henderson; “The rules of strategy are few and simple. They may be learned in a week. They may be taught by familiar illustrations or a dozen diagrams. But such knowledge will no more teach a man to lead an army like Napoleon than a knowledge of grammar will teach him to write like Gibbon.”

  337. is 劉晝子 Liu Chou-tzǔ’s reading for in the original text.

  338. Like water, taking the line of least resistance.

  339. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read 制形⁠—the latter also 制行. The present text is derived from Chêng Yu-hsien.

  340. Water, fire, wood, metal, earth.

  341. That is, as Wang Hsi says: 迭相克也 “they predominate alternately.”

  342. Literally, “have no invariable seat.”

  343. Cf. chapter V (“Indirect tactics, efficiently applied⁠ ⁠…”). The purport of the passage is simply to illustrate the want of fixity in war by the changes constantly taking place in Nature. The comparison is not very happy, however, because the regularity of the phenomena which Sun Tzǔ mentions is by no means paralleled in war.

  344. The commentators, as well as the subsequent text, make it clear that this is the real meaning of 軍爭. Thus, Li Chʽüan says that means 趨利 “marching rapidly to seize an advantage”; Wang Hsi says: 爭者爭利得利則勝 “ ‘Striving’ means striving for an advantage; this being obtained, victory will follow;” and Chang Yü: 兩軍相對而爭利也 “The two armies face to face, and each striving to obtain a tactical advantage over the other.” According to the latter commentator, then, the situation is analogous to that of two wrestlers manoeuvring for a “hold,” before coming to actual grips. In any case, we must beware of translating by the word “fighting” or “battle,” as if it were equivalent to . Capt. Calthrop falls into this mistake.

  345. For there is another reading , which Li Chʽüan explains as 恭行天罰 “being the reverent instrument of Heaven’s chastisement.”

  346. Tsʽao Kung takes as referring to the 和門 or main gate of the military camp. This, Tu Mu tells us, was formed with a couple of flags hung across. (Cf. Chou Li, ch. XXVII fol. 31 of the Imperial edition: 直旌門.) 交和 would then mean “setting up his 和門 opposite that of the enemy.” But Chia Lin’s explanation, which has been adopted above, is on the whole simpler and better. Chang Yü, while following Tsʽao Kung, adds that the words may also be taken to mean “the establishment of harmony and confidence between the higher and lower ranks before venturing into the field;” and he quotes a saying of Wu Tzǔ ( init.): “Without harmony in the State, no military expedition can be undertaken; without harmony in the army, no battle array can be formed.” In the historical romance 東周列國, chap. 75, Sun Tzǔ himself is represented as saying to 伍員 Wu Yüan: 大凡行兵之法先除內患然後方可外征 “As a general rule, those who are waging war should get rid of all domestic troubles before proceeding to attack the external foe.” is defined as . It here conveys the notion of encamping after having taken the field.

  347. I have departed slightly from the traditional interpretation of Tsʽao Kung, who says: 從始受命至於交和軍爭難也 “From the time of receiving the sovereign’s instructions until our encampment over against the enemy, the tactics to be pursued are most difficult.” It seems to me that the 軍爭 tactics or manoeuvres can hardly be said to begin until the army has sallied forth and encamped, and Chʽên Hao’s note gives colour to this view: “For levying, concentrating, harmonising and intrenching an army, there are plenty of old rules which will serve. The real difficulty comes when we engage in tactical operations.” Tu Yu also observes that “the great difficulty is to be beforehand with the enemy in seizing favourable positions.”

  348. 以迂為直 is one of those highly condensed and somewhat enigmatical expressions of which Sun Tzǔ is so fond. This is how it is explained by Tsʽao Kung: 示以遠速其道里先敵至也 “Make it appear that you are a long way off, then cover the distance rapidly and arrive on the scene before your opponent.” Tu Mu says: “Hoodwink the enemy, so that he may be remiss and leisurely while you are dashing along with the utmost speed.” Ho Shih gives a slightly different turn to the sentence: “Although you may have difficult ground to traverse and natural obstacles to encounter, this is a drawback which can be turned into actual advantage by celerity of movement.” Signal examples of this saying are afforded by the two famous passages across the Alps⁠—that of Hannibal, which laid Italy at his mercy, and that of Napoleon two thousand years later, which resulted in the great victory of Marengo.

  349. Chia Lin understands as the enemy’s line of march, thus: “If our adversary’s course is really a short one, and we can manage to divert him from it (迂之) either by simulating weakness or by holding out some small advantage, we shall be able to beat him in the race for good positions.” This is quite a defensible view, though not adopted by any other commentator. of course = , and and are to be taken as verbs. Tu Mu cites the famous march of 趙奢 Chao Shê in 270 BC to relieve the town of 閼與 O-yü, which was closely invested by a Chʽin army. (It should be noted that the above is the correct pronunciation of 閼與, as given in the commentary on the Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 34. Giles’ dictionary gives “Yü-yü,” and Chavannes, I know not on what authority, prefers to write “Yen-yü.” The name is omitted altogether from Playfair’s “Cities and Towns.”) The King of Chao first consulted 廉頗 Lien Pʽo on the advisability of attempting a relief, but the latter thought the distance too great, and the intervening country too rugged and difficult. His Majesty then turned to Chao Shê, who fully admitted the hazardous nature of the march, but finally said: “We shall be like two rats fighting in a hole⁠—and the pluckier one will win!” so he left the capital with his army, but had only gone a distance of 30 li when he stopped and began throwing up intrenchments. For 28 days he continued strengthening his fortifications, and took care that spies should carry the intelligence to the enemy. The Chʽin general was overjoyed, and attributed his adversary’s tardiness to the fact that the beleaguered city was in the Han State, and thus not actually part of Chao territory. But the spies had no sooner departed than Chao Shê began a forced march lasting for two days and one night, and arrived on the scene of action with such astonishing rapidity that he was able to occupy a commanding position on the 北山 “North hill” before the enemy had got wind of his movements. A crushing defeat followed for the Chʽin forces, who were obliged to raise the siege of O-yü in all haste and retreat across the border. (See 史記, chap. 81.)

  350. I here adopt the reading of the Tʽung Tien, Chêng Yu-hsien and the Tʽu Shu, where appears to supply the exact nuance required in order to make sense. The standard text, on the other hand, in which is repeated, seems somewhat pointless. The commentators take it to mean that manoeuvres may be profitable, or they may be dangerous: it all depends on the ability of the general. Capt. Calthrop translates 衆爭 “the wrangles of a multitude”!

  351. The original text has instead of ; but a verb is needed to balance .

  352. 委軍 is evidently unintelligible to the Chinese commentators, who paraphrase the sentence as though it began with 棄輜. Absolute tautology in the apodosis can then only be avoided by drawing an impossibly fine distinction between and . I submit my own rendering without much enthusiasm, being convinced that there is some deep-seated corruption in the text. On the whole, it is clear that Sun Tzǔ does not approve of a lengthy march being undertaken without supplies. Cf. infra. (“We may take it then that an army⁠ ⁠…”)

  353. 卷甲 does not mean “to discard one’s armour,” as Capt. Calthrop translates, but implies on the contrary that it is to be carried with you. Chang Yü says: 猶悉甲也 “This means, in full panoply.”

  354. The ordinary day’s march, according to Tu Mu, was 30 li; but on one occasion, when pursuing 劉備 Liu Pei, Tsʽao Tsʽao is said to have covered the incredible distance of 300 li within twenty-four hours.

  355. For , see note 212 on II. The moral is, as Tsʽao Kung and others point out: Don’t march a hundred li to gain a tactical advantage, either with or without impedimenta. Manoeuvres of this description should be confined to short distances. Stonewall Jackson said: “The hardships of forced marches are often more painful than the dangers of battle.” He did not often call upon his troops for extraordinary exertions. It was only when he intended a surprise, or when a rapid retreat was imperative, that he sacrificed everything to speed.777

  356. is explained as similar in meaning to : literally, “the leader of the first division will be torn away.” Cf. Tso Chuan, 19th year: 是謂蹶其本 “This is a case of [the falling tree] tearing up its roots.”

  357. In the Tʽung Tien is added: 以是知軍爭之難 “From this we may know the difficulty of manoeuvring.”

  358. 委積 is explained by Tu Yu as 芻草之屬 “fodder and the like;” by Tu Mu and Chang Yü as 財貨 “goods in general;” and by Wang Hsi as 薪鹽蔬材之屬 “fuel, salt, foodstuffs, etc.” But I think what Sun Tzǔ meant was “stores accumulated in dépôts,” as distinguished from 輜重 and 糧食, the various impedimenta accompanying an army on its march. Cf. Chou Li, ch. XVI fol. 10: 委人⁠ ⁠… 斂薪芻凡疏材木材凡畜聚之物.

  359. = . Li Chʽüan understands it as “guard against,” which is hardly so good. An original interpretation of is given by Tu Mu, who says it stands for 交兵 or 合戰 “join in battle.”

  360. , defined as 坑塹 (Tsʽao Kung) or 坑坎 (Chang Yü).

  361. , defined as 一高一下.

  362. , defined as 水草漸洳者.

  363. , defined as 衆水所歸而不流者.

  364. This and the previous two paragraphs are repeated in chap. XI. (“We cannot enter into alliance⁠ ⁠…”)

  365. According to Tu Mu, stands for 立勝. Cf. chapter I, “All warfare is based on deception.” In the tactics of Turenne, deception of the enemy, especially as to the numerical strength of his troops, took a very a prominent position.778

  366. This is the interpretation of all the commentators except Wang Hsi, who has the brief note 誘之也 “Entice out the enemy” (by offering him some apparent advantage).

  367. The simile is doubly appropriate, because the wind is not only swift but, as Mei Yao-chʽên points out, 無形跡 “invisible and leaves no tracks.”

  368. It is hardly possible to take here in its ordinary sense of “sedate,” as Tu Yu tries to do. Mêng Shih comes nearer the mark in his note 緩行須有行列 “When slowly marching, order and ranks must be preserved”⁠—so as to guard against surprise attacks. But natural forests do not grow in rows, whereas they do generally possess the quality of density or compactness. I think then that Mei Yao-chʽên uses the right adjective in saying 如林之森然.

  369. Cf. Shih Ching, IV 3 IV 6: 如火烈烈則莫我敢曷 “Fierce as a blazing fire which no man can check.”

  370. That is, when holding a position from which the enemy is trying to dislodge you, or perhaps, as Tu Yu says, when he is trying to entice you into a trap.

  371. The original text has instead of . Cf. chapter IV, “The general who is skilled⁠ ⁠…” Tu Yu quotes a saying of Tʽai Kung which has passed into a proverb: 疾雷不及掩耳疾電不及暝目 “You cannot shut your ears to the thunder or your eyes to the lightning⁠—so rapid are they.” Likewise, an attack should be made so quickly that it cannot be parried.

  372. The reading of Tu Yu, Chia Lin, and apparently Tsʽao Kung, is 指向分衆, which is explained as referring to the subdivision of the army, mentioned in chapter V (“The control of a large force⁠ ⁠…” and “Fighting with a large army⁠ ⁠…”), by means of banners and flags, serving to point out () to each man the way he should go (). But this is very forced, and the ellipsis is too great, even for Sun Tzǔ. Luckily, the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have the variant , which not only suggests the true reading , but affords some clue to the way in which the corruption arose. Some early commentator having inserted as the sound of , the two may afterwards have been read as one character; and this being interchangeable with , must finally have disappeared altogether. Meanwhile, would have been altered to in order to make sense. As regards 分衆, I believe that Ho Shih alone has grasped the real meaning, the other commentators understanding it as “dividing to men into parties” to search for plunder. Sun Tzǔ wishes to lessen the abuses of indiscriminate plundering by insisting that all booty shall be thrown into a common stock, which may afterwards be fairly divided amongst all.

  373. That this is the meaning, may be gathered from Tu Mu’s note: 開土拓境則分割與有功者. The 三略 gives the same advice: 獲地裂之. means “to enlarge” or “extend”⁠—at the expense of the enemy, understood. Cf. Shih Ching, III 1 VII 1: 懀其式廓 “hating all the great States.” Chʽên Hao also says 屯兵種蒔 “quarter your soldiers on the land, and let them sow and plant it.” It is by acting on this principle, and harvesting the lands they invaded, that the Chinese have succeeded in carrying out some of their most memorable and triumphant expeditions, such as that of 班超 Pan Chʽao who penetrated to the Caspian, and in more recent years, those of 福康安 Fu-kʽang-an and 左宗棠 Tso Tsung-tʽang.779

  374. Note that both these words, like the Chinese 懸權, are really metaphors derived from the use of scales.

  375. Chang Yü quotes 慰繚子 as saying that we must not break camp until we have gauged the resisting power of the enemy and the cleverness of the opposing general. Cf. the “seven comparisons” in chapter I. Capt. Calthrop omits this sentence.

  376. See supra, “After that, comes tactical manoeuvring⁠ ⁠…” and “Thus, to take a long and circuitous route⁠ ⁠…”

  377. With these words, the chapter would naturally come to an end. But there now follows a long appendix in the shape of an extract from an earlier book on War, now lost, but apparently extant at the time when Sun Tzǔ wrote. The style of this fragment is not noticeably different from that of Sun Tzǔ himself, but no commentator raises a doubt as to its genuineness.

  378. It is perhaps significant that none of the earlier commentators give us any information about this work. Mei Yao-Chʽên calls it 軍之舊典 “an ancient military classic,” and Wang Hsi, 古軍書 “an old book on war.” Considering the enormous amount of fighting that had gone on for centuries before Sun Tzǔ’s time between the various kingdoms and principalities of China, it is not in itself improbable that a collection of military maxims should have been made and written down at some earlier period.

  379. Implied, though not actually in the Chinese.

  380. I have retained the words 金鼓 of the original text, which recur in the next paragraph, in preference to the other reading 鼓鐸 “drums and bells,” which is found in the Tʽung Tien, Pei Tʽang Shu Chʽao and Yü Lan. is a bell with a clapper. See Lun Yü III 24, Chou Li XXIX 15, 29 of course would include both gongs and bells of every kind. The Tʽu Shu inserts a after each .

  381. The original text, followed by the Tʽu Shu, has for here and in the next two paragraphs. But, as we have seen, is generally used in Sun Tzǔ for the enemy.

  382. Note the use of as a verb. Chang Yü says: 視聽均齊則雖百萬之衆進退如一矣 “If sight and hearing converge simultaneously on the same object, the evolutions of as many as a million soldiers will be like those of a single man”!

  383. Chang Yü quotes a saying: 令不進而進與令不退而退厥罪惟均 “Equally guilty are those who advance against orders and those who retreat against orders.” Tu Mu tells a story in this connection of 吳起 Wu Chʽi, when he was fighting against the Chʽin State. Before the battle had begun, one of his soldiers, a man of matchless daring, sallied forth by himself, captured two heads from the enemy, and returned to camp. Wu Chʽi had the man instantly executed, whereupon an officer ventured to remonstrate, saying: “This man was a good soldier, and ought not to have been beheaded.” Wu Chʽi replied: “I fully believe he was a good soldier, but I had him beheaded because he acted without orders.”

  384. The Tʽung Tien has the bad variant 便 for . With regard to the latter word, I believe I have hit off the right meaning, the whole phrase being slightly elliptical for “influencing the movements of the army through their senses of sight and hearing.” Li Chʽüan, Tu Mu and Chia Lin certainly seem to understand it thus. The other commentators, however, take (or ) as the enemy, and as equivalent to 變惑 or 變亂 “to perplex” or “confound.” This does not agree so well with what has gone before, though on the other hand it renders the transition to the next paragraph less abrupt. The whole question, I think, hinges on the alternative readings and . The latter would almost certainly denote the enemy. Chʽên Hao alludes to 李光弼 Li Kuang-pi’s night ride to 河陽 Ho-yang at the head of 500 mounted men; they made such an imposing display with torches, that though the rebel leader 史思明 Shih Ssǔ-ming had a large army, he did not dare to dispute their passage. (Chʽên Hao gives the date as 天寶末 AD 756; but according to the 新唐書 New Tʽang History, 列傳 61, it must have been later than this, probably 760.)

  385. “In war,” says Chang Yü, “if a spirit of anger can be made to pervade all ranks of an army at one and the same time, its onset will be irresistable. Now the spirit of the enemy’s soldiers will be keenest when they have newly arrived on the scene, and it is therefore our cue not to fight at once, but to wait until their ardour and enthusiasm have worn off, and then strike. It is in this way that they be robbed of their keen spirit.” Li Chʽüan and others tell an anecdote (to be found in the Tso Chuan, 莊公 year 10, § 1) of 曹劌 Tsʽao Kuei, a protégé of Duke Chuang of Lu. The latter State was attacked by Chʽi, and the Duke was about to join battle at 長勺 Chʽang-cho, after the first roll of the enemy’s drums, when Tsʽao said: “Not just yet.” Only after their drums had beaten for the third time, did he give the word for attack. Then they fought, and the men of Chʽi were utterly defeated. Questioned afterwards by the Duke as to the meaning of his delay, Tsʽao Kuei replied: “In battle, a courageous spirit is everything. Now the first roll of the drum tends to create this spirit, but with the second it is already on the wane, and after the third it is gone altogether. I attacked when their spirit was gone and ours was at its height. Hence our victory.” 吳子 (chap. 4) puts “spirit” first among the “four important influences” in war, and continues: 三軍之衆百萬之師張設輕重在於一人是謂氣機 “The value of a whole army⁠—a mighty host of a million men⁠—is dependent on one man alone: such is the influence of spirit!”

  386. Capt. Calthrop goes woefully astray with “defeat his general’s ambition.” Chang Yü says: 心者將之所主也夫治亂勇怯皆主於心 “Presence of mind is the general’s most important asset. It is the quality which enables him to discipline disorder and to inspire courage into the panic-stricken.” The great general 李靖 Li Ching (AD 571⁠–⁠649) has a saying: 夫攻者不止攻其城擊其陳而已必有攻其心之術焉 “Attacking does not merely consist in assaulting walled cities or striking at an army in battle array; it must include the art of assailing the enemy’s mental equilibrium.” (問對, pt. 3.)

  387. Always provided, I suppose, that he has had breakfast. At the battle of the Trebia, the Romans were foolishly allowed to fight fasting, whereas Hannibal’s men had breakfasted at their leisure. See Livy, XXI, liv. 8, lv. 1 and 8.

  388. The , which certainly seems to be wanted here, is omitted in the Tʽu Shu.

  389. The Tʽung Tien, for reasons of 避諱 “avoidance of personal names of the reigning dynasty,” reads for in this and the two next paragraphs.

  390. The Tʽung Tien has for . The two characters are practically synonymous, but according to the commentary, the latter is the form always used in Sun Tzǔ.

  391. is the reading of the original text. But the 兵書要訣 quotes the passage with yao¹ (also meaning “to intercept”), and this is supported by the Pei Tʽang Shu Chʽao, the Yü Lan, and Wang Hsi’s text.

  392. For this translation of 堂堂, I can appeal to the authority of Tu Mu, who defines the phrase as 無懼. The other commentators mostly follow Tsʽao Kung, who says , probably meaning “grand and imposing.” Li Chʽüan, however, has 部分 “in subdivisions,” which is somewhat strange.

  393. I have not attempted a uniform rendering of the four phrases 治氣, 治心, 治力 and 治變, though really bears the same meaning in each case. It is to be taken, I think, not in the sense of “to govern” or “control,” but rather, as Kʽang Hsi defines it, = 簡習 “to examine and practise,” hence “look after,” “keep a watchful eye upon.” We may find an example of this use in the Chou Li, XVIII fol. 46: 治其大禮. Sun Tzǔ has not told us to control or restrain the quality which he calls , but only to observe the time at which it is strongest. As for , it is important to remember that in the present context it can only mean “presence of mind.” To speak of “controlling presence of mind” is absurd, and Capt. Calthrop’s “to have the heart under control” is hardly less so. The whole process recommended here is that of chapter VI: 致人而不致於人 (“Therefore the clever combatant⁠ ⁠…”)

  394. The Yü Lan reads for .

  395. Li Chʽüan and Tu Mu, with extraordinary inability to see a metaphor, take these words quite literally of food and drink that have been poisoned by the enemy. Chʽên Hao and Chang Yü carefully point out that the saying has a wider application. The Tʽung Tien reads “to covet” instead of . The similarity of the two characters sufficiently accounts for the mistake.

  396. The commentators explain this rather singular piece of advice by saying that a man whose heart is set on returning home will fight to the death against any attempt to bar his way, and is therefore too dangerous an opponent to be tackled. Chang Yü quotes the words of Han Hsin: 從思東歸之士何所不克 “Invincible is the soldier who hath his desire and returneth homewards.” A marvellous tale is told of Tsʽao Tsʽao’s courage and resource in ch. 1 of the San Kuo Chih, 武帝紀: In 198 AD, he was besieging 張繡 Chang Hsiu in Jang, when 劉表 Liu Piao sent reinforcements with a view to cutting off Tsʽao’s retreat. The latter was obliged to draw off his troops, only to find himself hemmed in between two enemies, who were guarding each outlet of a narrow pass in which he had engaged himself. In this desparate plight Tsʽao waited until nightfall, when he bored a tunnel into the mountain side and laid an ambush in it. Then he marched on with his baggage-train, and when it grew light, Chang Hsiu, finding that the bird had flown, pressed after him in hot pursuit. As soon as the whole army had passed by, the hidden troops fell on its rear, while Tsʽao himself turned and met his pursuers in front, so that they were thrown into confusion and annihilated. Tsʽao Tsʽao said afterwards: 虜遏吾歸師而與吾死地戰吾是以知勝矣 “The brigands tried to check my army in its retreat and brought me to battle in a desparate position: hence I knew how to overcome them.”

  397. This does not mean that the enemy is to be allowed to escape. The object, as Tu Mu puts it, is 示以生路令無必死之心 “to make him believe that there is a road to safety, and thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair.” Tu Mu adds pleasantly: 因而擊之 “After that, you may crush him.”

  398. For , the Tʽu Shu reads “pursue.” Chʽên Hao quotes the saying: 鳥窮則搏獸窮則噬 “Birds and beasts when brought to bay will use their claws and teeth.” Chang Yü says: 敵若焚舟破釜決一戰則不可逼迫來 “If your adversary has burned his boats and destroyed his cooking-pots, and is ready to stake all on the issue of a battle, he must not be pushed to extremities.” The phrase 窮宼 doubtless originated with Sun Tzǔ. The Pʽei Wên Yün Fu gives four examples of its use, the earliest being from the Chʽien Han Shu, and I have found another in chap. 34 of the same work. Ho Shih illustrates the meaning by a story taken from the life of 符彥卿 Fu Yen-chʽing in ch. 251 of the 宋史. That general, together with his colleague 杜重威 Tu Chung-wei, was surrounded by a vastly superior army of Khitans in the year 945 AD. The country was bare and desert-like, and the little Chinese force was soon in dire straits for want of water. The wells they bored ran dry, and the men were reduced to squeezing lumps of mud and sucking out the moisture. Their ranks thinned rapidly, until at last Fu Yen-chʽing exclaimed: “We are desperate men. Far better to die for our country than to go with fettered hands into captivity!” A strong gale happened to be blowing from the northeast and darkening the air with dense clouds of sandy dust. Tu Chung-wei was for waiting until this had abated before deciding on a final attack; but luckily another officer, 李守貞 Li Shou-chêng by name, was quicker to see an opportunity, and said: “They are many and we are few, but in the midst of this sandstorm our numbers will not be discernible; victory will go to the strenuous fighter, and the wind will be our best ally.” Accordingly, Fu Yen-chʽing made a sudden and wholly unexpected onslaught with his cavalry, routed the barbarians and succeeded in breaking through to safety. (Certain details in the above account have been added from the 歷代紀事年表, ch. 78.)

  399. Chêng Yu-hsien is his 遺說 inserts after . I take it that these words conclude the extract from the 軍政 which began at earlier with the words “The Book of Army Management says⁠ ⁠…”

  400. The heading means literally “The Nine Variations,” but as Sun Tzǔ does not appear to enumerate these, and as, indeed, he has already told us (chapter V, “Indirect tactics, efficiently applied⁠ ⁠…” through “The direct and the indirect lead on⁠ ⁠…”) that such deflections from the ordinary course are practically innumerable, we have little option but to follow Wang Hsi, who says that “Nine” stands for an indefinitely large number. “All it means is that in warfare 當極其變 we ought to vary our tactics to the utmost degree⁠ ⁠… I do not know what Tsʽao Kung makes these Nine Variations out to be [the latter’s note is 變其正得其所用九也], but it has been suggested that they are connected with the Nine Situations”⁠—of chap. XI. This is the view adopted by Chang Yü: see note 406 on 死地 (“In a desperate position⁠ ⁠…”). The only other alternative is to suppose that something has been lost⁠—a supposition to which the unusual shortness of the chapter lends some weight.

  401. Repeated from chapter VII (“In war, the general receives⁠ ⁠…”), where it is certainly more in place. It may have been interpolated here merely in order to supply a beginning to the chapter.

  402. For explanation of 圮地, see note 580 on XI.

  403. See XI, “Ground which forms the key⁠ ⁠…” and “On open ground⁠ ⁠…” Capt. Calthrop omits 衢地.

  404. 絕地 is not one of the Nine Situations as given in the beginning of chap. XI, but occurs later on (chapter XI, “When you leave your own country⁠ ⁠…” q.v.). We may compare it with 重地 (chapter XI, “When an army has penetrated⁠ ⁠…”). Chang Yü calls it a 危絕之地, situated across the frontier, in hostile territory. Li Chʽüan says it is “country in which there are no springs or wells, flocks or herds, vegetables or firewood;” Chia Lin, “one of gorges, chasms and precipices, without a road by which to advance.”

  405. See XI, “Ground which is reached⁠ ⁠…” and “On hemmed-in ground⁠ ⁠…” Capt. Calthrop has “mountainous and wooded country,” which is a quite inadequate translation of .

  406. See chapter XI (“Ground on which we can only be saved⁠ ⁠…” and “On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem⁠ ⁠…”) Chang Yü has an important note here, which must be given in full. “From 圮地無舍,” he says, “down to this point, the Nine Variations are presented to us. The reason why only five are given is that the subject is treated en précis (舉其大略也). So in chap. XI, where he discusses the variations of tactics corresponding to the Nine Grounds, Sun Tzǔ mentions only six variations; there again we have an abridgment. [I cannot understand what Chang Yü means by this statement. He can only be referring to the four paragraphs starting at either ‘On dispersive ground⁠ ⁠…’ or ‘Therefore, on dispersive ground⁠ ⁠…’ in chap. XI; but in both places all the nine grounds are discussed. Perhaps he is confusing these with the Six 地形, (‘We may distinguish six kinds of terrain⁠ ⁠…’) of chap. X] All kinds of ground have corresponding military positions, and also a variation of tactics suitable to each (凡地有勢有變). In chap. XI, what we find enumerated first [starting at ‘Ground which can be freely traversed⁠ ⁠…’] are the situations; afterwards [starting at ‘If the enemy has occupied⁠ ⁠…’] the corresponding tactics. Now, how can we tell that the 九變 ‘Nine Variations’ are simply the 九地之變 ‘variations of tactics corresponding to the Nine Grounds’? It is said further on [in chapter VIII] that ‘the general who does not understand the nine variations of tactics may be well acquainted with the features of the country, yet he will not be able to turn his knowledge to practical account.’ Again, in chap. XI [here] we read: ‘The different measures adapted to the nine varieties of ground (九地之變) and the expediency of aggressive or defensive tactics must be carefully examined.’ From a consideration of these passages the meaning is made clear. When later on the nine grounds are enumerated, Sun Tzǔ recurs to these nine variations. He wishes here to speak of the Five Advantages [see infra, ‘Ground which forms the key⁠ ⁠…’], so he begins by setting forth the Nine Variations. These are inseparably connected in practice, and therefore they are dealt with together.” The weak point of this argument is the suggestion that 五事 “five things” can stand as a 大畧, that is, an abstract or abridgment, of nine, when those that are omitted are not less important than those that appear, and when one of the latter is not included amongst the nine at all.

  407. “Especially those leading through narrow defiles,” says Li Chʽüan, “where an ambush is to be feared.”

  408. More correctly, perhaps, “there are times when an army must not be attacked.” Chʽên Hao says: “When you see your way to obtain a trivial advantage, but are powerless to inflict a real defeat, refrain attacking, for fear of overtaxing your men’s strengths.”

  409. Capt. Calthrop says “castles”⁠—an unfortunate attempt to introduce local colour.

  410. Cf. chapter III (“The rule is⁠ ⁠…”). Tsʽao Kung gives an interesting illustration from his own experience. When invading the territory of 徐州 Hsü-chou, he ignored the city of 華費 Hua-pi, which lay directly in his path, and pressed on into the heart of the country. This excellent strategy was rewarded by the subsequent capture of no fewer than fourteen important district cities. Chang Yü says: “No town should be attacked which, if taken, cannot be held, or if left alone, will not cause any trouble.” 荀罃 Hsün Ying, when urged to attack 偪陽 Pi-yang, replied: “The city is small and well-fortified; even if I succeed in taking it, ’t will be no great feat of arms; whereas if I fail, I shall make myself a laughingstock.” In the seventeenth century, sieges still formed a large proportion of war. It was Turenne who directed attention to the importance of marches, countermarches and manoeuvres. He said: “It is a great mistake to waste men in taking a town when the same expenditure of soldiers will gain a province.”780

  411. This is a hard saying for the Chinese, with their reverence for authority, and Wei Liao Tzǔ (quoted by Tu Mu) is moved to exclaim: 兵者凶器也爭者逆德也將者死官也 “Weapons are baleful instruments, strife is antagonistic to virtue, a military commander is the negation of civil order!” The unpalatable fact remains, however, that even Imperial wishes must be subordinated to military necessity. Cf. chapter III (“He will win who has military capacity⁠ ⁠…”) and chapter X (“If fighting is sure⁠ ⁠…”). The Tʽung Tien has 將在軍 before 君命, etc. This is a gloss on the words by Chu-ko Liang, which being repeated by Tu Yu became incorporated with the text. Chang Yü thinks that these five precepts are the 五利 referred to below (“So, the student of war⁠ ⁠…”). Another theory is that the mysterious 九變 are here enumerated, starting with 圮地無舍 and ending at 地有所不爭, while the final clause 君命有所不受 embraces and as it were sums up all the nine. Thus Ho Shih says: “Even if it be your sovereign’s command to encamp in difficult country, linger in isolated positions, etc., you must not do so.” The theory is perhaps a little too ingenious to be accepted with confidence.

  412. Before in the original text there is a which is obviously not required.

  413. Literally, “get the advantage of the ground,” which means not only securing good positions, but availing oneself of natural advantages in every possible way. Chang Yü says: “Every kind of ground is characterised by certain natural features, and also gives scope for a certain variability of plan. How is it possible to turn these natural features to account unless topographical knowledge is supplemented by versatility of mind?”

  414. Tsʽao Kung says that the 五利 are 下五事也 “the five things that follow;” but this cannot be right. We must rather look back to the five “variations” contained above (“There are roads⁠ ⁠…”). Chia Lin (who reads 五變 here to balance the 五利) tells us that these imply five obvious and generally advantageous lines of action, namely: “if a certain road is short, it must be followed; if an army is isolated, it must be attacked; if a town is in a parlous condition, it must be besieged; if a position can be stormed, it must be attempted; and if consistent with military operations, the ruler’s commands must be obeyed.” But there are circumstances which sometimes forbid a general to use these advantages. For instance, “a certain road may be the shortest way for him, but if he knows that it abounds in natural obstacles, or that the enemy has laid an ambush on it, he will not follow that road. A hostile force may be open to attack, but if he knows that it is hard-pressed and likely to fight with desperation, he will refrain from striking,” and so on. Here the comes in to modify the , and hence we see the uselessness of knowing the one without the other⁠—of having an eye for weaknesses in the enemy’s armour without being clever enough to recast one’s plans on the spur of the moment. Capt. Calthrop offers this slovenly translation: “In the management of armies, if the art of the Nine Changes be understood [sic], a knowledge of the Five Advantages is of no avail.”

  415. “Whether in an advantageous position or a disadvantageous one,” says Tsʽao Kung, “the opposite state should be always present to your mind.”

  416. , according to Tu Mu, is equivalent to , and 務可信也 is paraphrased by Chang Yü as 可以伸己之事. Tu Mu goes on to say: “If we wish to wrest an advantage from the enemy, we must not fix our minds on that alone, but allow for the possibility of the enemy also doing some harm to us, and let this enter as a factor into our calculations.”

  417. A translator cannot emulate the conciseness of 雜於害 “to blend [thoughts of advantage] with disadvantage,” but the meaning is as given. Tu Mu says: “If I wish to extricate myself from a dangerous position, I must consider not only the enemy’s ability to injure me, but also my own ability to gain an advantage over the enemy. If in my counsels these two considerations are properly blended, I shall succeed in liberating myself⁠ ⁠… For instance, if I am surrounded by the enemy and only think of effecting an escape, the nervelessness of my policy will incite my adversary to deliver a bold counterattack, and use the advantage thus gained to free myself from the enemy’s toils.” See the story of Tsʽao Tsʽao in note 396. In his first edition, Capt. Calthrop translated “Hence in the wise leader’s plans⁠ ⁠…” as follows: “The wise man perceives clearly wherein lies advantage and disadvantage. While recognising an opportunity, he does not overlook the risks, and saves future anxiety.” This has now been altered into: “The wise man considers well both advantage and disadvantage. He sees a way out of adversity, and on the day of victory to danger is not blind.” Owing to a needless inversion of the Chinese, the words which I have italicised are evidently intended to represent the previous paragraph!

  418. Chia Lin enumerates several ways of inflicting this injury, some of which would only occur to the Oriental mind:⁠—“Entice away the enemy’s best and wisest men, so that he may be left without counsellors. Introduce traitors into his country, that the government policy may be rendered futile. Foment intrigue and deceit, and thus sow dissension between the ruler and his ministers. By means of every artful contrivance, cause deterioration amongst his men and waste of his treasure. Corrupt his morals by insidious gifts leading him into excess. Disturb and unsettle his mind by presenting him with lovely women.” Chang Yü (after Wang Hsi) considers the to be military chastisement: “Get the enemy,” he says, “into a position where he must suffer injury, and he will submit of his own accord.” Capt. Calthrop twists Sun Tzǔ’s words into an absurdly barbarous precept: “In reducing an enemy to submission, inflict all possible damage upon him.”

  419. is defined by Tsʽao Kung as , and his definition is generally adopted by the commentators. Tu Mu, however, seems to take it in the sense of “possessions,” or, as we might say, “assets,” which he considers to be 兵衆國富人和令行 “a large army, a rich exchequer, harmony amongst the soldiers, punctual fulfilment of commands.” These give us a whip-hand over the enemy.

  420. , literally, “make servants of them.” Tu Yu says 令不得安佚 “prevent them from having any rest.”

  421. Mêng Shih’s note contains an excellent example of the idiomatic use of : 令忘變而速至 “cause them to forget pien (the reasons for acting otherwise than on their first impulse), and hasten in our direction.”

  422. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read 有能以待之也, but the conciser form is more likely to be right.

  423. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan insert 吾也 after the first , and omit 有所.

  424. 勇而無慮 “Bravery without forethought,” as Tsʽao Kung analyses it, which causes a man to fight blindly and desperately like a mad bull. Such an opponent, says Chang Yü, “must not be encountered with brute force, but may be lured into an ambush and slain.” Cf. Wu Tzǔ, chap. IV ad init.: 凡人論將常觀於勇勇之於將乃數分之一耳夫勇者必輕合而不知利未可也 “In estimating the character of a general, men are wont to pay exclusive attention to his courage, forgetting that courage is only one our of many qualities which a general should possess. The merely brave man is prone to fight recklessly; and he who fights recklessly, withou any perception of what is expedient, must be condemned.” The Ssǔ-ma Fa, too, makes the incisive remark 上死不勝 “Simply going to one’s death does not bring about victory.”

  425. 必生 is explained by Tsʽao Kung of the man “whom timidity prevents from advancing to seize an advantage,” and Wang Hsi adds, “who is quick to flee at the sight of danger.” Mêng Shih gives the closer paraphrase 志必生反 “he who is bent on returning alive,” that is, the man who will never take a risk. But, as Sun Tzǔ knew, nothing is to be achieved in war unless you are willing to take risks. Tʽai Kung said: 失利後時反受其殃 “He who lets an advantage slip will subsequently bring upon himself real disaster.” In 404 AD, 劉裕 Liu Yü pursued the rebel 桓玄 Huan Hsüan up the Yangtsze and fought a naval battle with him at 崢嶸洲 the island of Chʽêng-hung. The loyal troops numbered only a few thousands, while their opponents were in great force. But Huan Hsüan, fearing the fate which was in store for him should he be overcome, had a light boat made fast to the side of his war-junk, so that he might escape, if necessary, at a moment’s notice. The natural result was that the fighting spirit of his soldiers was utterly quenched, and when the loyalists made an attack from windward with fireships, all striving with the utmost ardour to be first in the fray, Huan Hsüan’s forces were routed, had to burn all their baggage and fled for two days and nights without stopping. (See 晉書, chap. 99, fol. 13.) Chang Yü tells a somewhat similar story of 趙嬰齊 Chao Ying-chʽi, a general of the Chin State who during a battle with the army of Chʽu in 597 BC had a boat kept in readiness for him on the river, wishing in case defeat to be the first to get across.

  426. I fail to see the meaning of Capt. Calthrop’s “which brings insult.” Tu Mu tells us that 姚襄 Yao Hsiang, when opposed in 357 AD by 黃眉 Huang Mei, 鄧羌 Têng Chʽiang and others, shut himself up behind his walls and refused to fight. Têng Chʽiang said: “Our adversary is of a choleric temper and easily provoked; let us make constant sallies and break down his walls, then he will grow angry and come out. Once we can bring his force to battle, it is doomed to be our prey.” This plan was acted upon, Yao Hsiang came out to fight, was lured on as far as 三原 San-yüan by the enemy’s pretended flight, and finally attacked and slain.

  427. This need not be taken to mean that a sense of honour is really a defect in a general. What Sun Tzǔ condemns is rather an exaggerated sensitiveness to slanderous reports, the thin-skinned man who is stung by opprobrium, however undeserved. Mei Yao-chʽên truly observes, though somewhat paradoxically: 徇名不顧 “The seeker after glory should be careless of public opinion.”

  428. Here again, Sun Tzǔ does not mean that the general is to be careless of the welfare of his troops. All he wishes to emphasise is the danger of sacrificing any important military advantage to the immediate comfort of his men. This is a shortsighted policy, because in the long run the troops will suffer more from the defeat, or, at best, the prolongation of the war, which will be the consequence. A mistaken feeling of pity will often induce a general to relieve a beleaguered city, or to reinforce a hard-pressed detachment, contrary to his military instincts. It is now generally admitted that our repeated efforts to relieve Ladysmith in the South African War were so many strategical blunders which defeated their own purpose. And in the end, relief came through the very man who started out with the distinct resolve no longer to subordinate the interests of the whole to sentiment in favour of a part. An old soldier of one of our generals who failed most conspicuously in this war, tried once, I remember, to defend him to me on the ground that he was always “so good to his men.” By this plea, but he but known it, he was only condemning him out of Sun Tzǔ’s mouth.

  429. The contents of this interesting chapter are better indicated in the first paragraph than by this heading.

  430. The discussion of 處軍, as Chang Yü points out, extends from here down to 伏姦之所藏處也 (“If in the neighborhood⁠ ⁠…”), and 相敵 from that point down to 必謹察之 (“If the enemy’s troops march up angrily⁠ ⁠…”). The rest of the chapter consists of a few desultory remarks, chiefly on the subject of discipline.

  431. For this use of , cf. note 437. See also 荀子, ch.fol. 2 (standard edition of 1876): 絕江河; Shih Chi, ch. 27 ad init.: 後六星絕漢.

  432. Tu Mu says that here = . The idea is, not to linger among barren uplands, but to keep close to supplies of water and grass. Capt. Calthrop translates “camp in valleys,” heedless of the very next sentence. Cf. Wu Tzǔ, ch. 3: 無當天竈 “Abide not in natural ovens,” i.e. 大谷之口 “the openings of large valleys.” Chang Yü tells the following anecdote: “武都羗 Wu-tu Chʽiang was a robber captain in the time of the Later Han, and 馬援 Ma Yüan was sent to exterminate his gang. Chʽiang having found a refuge in the hills, Ma Yüan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favourable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Chʽiang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender. He did not know the advantage of keeping in the neighbourhood of valleys.”

  433. Not on high hills, but on knolls or hillocks elevated above the surrounding country.

  434. 視生 = 面陽. Tu Mu takes this to mean “facing south,” and Chʽên Hao “facing east.” Cf. infra, “All armies prefer high ground⁠ ⁠…” and “When you come to a hill⁠ ⁠…”

  435. is here simply equivalent to . The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read .

  436. After , the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan insert .

  437. “In order to tempt the enemy to cross after you,” according to Tsʽao Kung, and also, says Chang Yü, “in order not to be impeded in your evolutions.” The Tʽung Tien reads 敵若絕水 “If the enemy crosses a river,” etc. But in view of the next sentence, this is almost certainly an interpolation.

  438. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read for , without change of meaning. Wu Tzǔ plagiarises this passage twice over:⁠—ch. II ad fin., 涉水半渡可擊; ch. V, 敵若絕水半渡而擊. Li Chʽüan alludes to the great victory won by Han Hsin over 龍且 Lung Chü at the Wei River. Turning to the Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 34, fol. 6 verso, we find the battle described as follows: “The two armies were drawn up on opposite sides of the river. In the night, Han Hsin ordered his men to take some ten thousand sacks filled with sand and construct a dam a little higher up. Then, leading half his army across, he attacked Lung Chü; but after a time, pretending to have failed in his attempt, he hastily withdrew to the other bank. Lung Chü was much elated by this unlooked-for success and exclaiming: ‘I felt sure that Han Hsin was really a coward!’ he pursued him and began crossing the river in his turn. Han Hsin now sent a party to cut open the sandbags, thus releasing a great volume of water, which swept down and prevented the greater portion of Lung Chü’s army from getting across. He then turned upon the force which had been cut off, and annihilated it, Lung Chü himself being amongst the slain. The rest of the army, on the further bank, also scattered and fled in all directions.”

  439. For fear of preventing his crossing. Capt. Calthrop makes the injunction ridiculous by omitting 欲戰者.

  440. See supra (“Camp in high places, facing the sun.”). The repetition of these words in connection with water is very awkward. Chang Yü has the note: 或岸邊為陳或水上泊舟皆須面陽而居高 “Said either of troops marshalled on the riverbank, or of boats anchored in the stream itself; in either case it is essential to be higher than the enemy and facing the sun.” The other commentators are not at all explicit. One is much tempted to reject their explanation of 視生 altogether, and understand it simply as “seeking safety.” (Cf. 必生 in note 425 on VIII, and note 446 on the current chapter.) It is true that this involves taking in an unusual, though not, I think, an impossible sense. Of course the earlier passage would then have to be translated in like manner.

  441. Tu Mu says: “As water flows downwards, we must not pitch our camp on the lower reaches of a river, for fear the enemy should open the sluices and sweep us away in a flood. This is implied above in the words 視生處高. Chu-ko Wu-hou has remarked that ‘in river warfare we must not advance against the stream,’ which is as much as to say that our fleet must not be anchored below that of the enemy, for then they would be able to take advantage of the current and make short work of us.” There is also the danger, noted by other commentators, that the enemy may throw poison on the water to be carried down to us. Capt. Calthrop’s first version was: “Do not cross rivers in the face of the stream”⁠—a sapient piece of advice, which made one curious to know what the correct way of crossing rivers might be. He has now improved this into: “Do not fight when the enemy is between the army and the source of the river.”

  442. Becuase of the lack of fresh water, the poor quality of the herbage, and last but not least, because they are low, flat, and exposed to attack.

  443. Li Chʽüan remarks that the ground is less likely to be treacherous where there are trees, while Tu Yu says that they will serve to protect the rear. Capt. Calthrop, with a perfect genius for going wrong, says “in the neighbourhood of a marsh.” For the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan wrongly read , and the latter also has instead of .

  444. This is doubtless the force of , its opposite being . Thus, Tu Mu explains it as 坦易平穩之處 “ground that is smooth and firm,” and therefore adapted for cavalry; Chang Yü as 坦易無坎陷之處 “level ground, free from depressions and hollows.” He adds later on that although Sun Tzǔ is discussing flat country, there will nevertheless be slight elevations and hillocks.

  445. The Yü Lan again reads for . Tu Mu quotes Tʽai Kung as saying: “An army should have a stream or a marsh on its left, and a hill or tumulus on its right.”

  446. Wang Hsi thinks that 後生 contradicts the saying 視生 above (“Camp in high places, facing the sun.”), and therefore suspects a mistake in the text.

  447. Those, namely, concerned with (1) mountains, (2) rivers, (3) marshes, and (4) plains. Compare Napoleon’s Military Maxims, no. 1.

  448. Mei Yao-chʽên asks, with some plausibility, whether is not a mistake for “armies,” as nothing is known of Huang Ti having conquered four other Emperors. The Shih Chi (ch. I ad init.) speaks only of his victories over 炎帝 Yen Ti and 蚩尤 Chʽih Yu. In the 六韜 it is mentioned that he “fought seventy battles and pacified the Empire.” Tsʽao Kung’s explanation is, that the Yellow Emperor was the first to institute the feudal system of vassal princes, each of whom (to the number of four) originally bore the title of Emperor. Li Chʽüan tells that the art of war originated under Huang Ti, who received it from his Minister 風后 Fêng Hou.

  449. “High ground,” says Mei Yao-chʽên, “is not only more agreeable and salubrious, but more convenient from a military point of view; low ground is not only damp and unhealthy, but also disadvantageous for fighting.” The original text and the Tʽu Shu have instead of .

  450. Tsʽao Kung says: 向水草可放牧養畜 “Make for fresh water and pasture, where you can turn out your animals to graze.” And the other commentators follow him, apparently taking as = . Cf. Mencius, V 1 IX 1, where 養牲者 means a cattle-keeper. But here 養生 surely has reference to the health of the troops. It is the title of Chuang Tzǔ’s third chapter, where it denotes moral rather than physical well-being.

  451. must mean dry and solid, as opposed to damp and marshy, ground. This is to be found as a rule in high places, so the commentators explain as practically equivalent to .

  452. Chang Yü says: “The dryness of the climate will prevent the outbreak of illness.”

  453. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have a superfluous before .

  454. 絕澗, explained by Mei Yao-chʽên as 前後險峻水橫其中.

  455. 天井, explained as 四面峻坂澗壑所歸 “places enclosed on every side by steep banks, with pools of water at the bottom.”

  456. 天牢 “natural pens or prisons,” explained as 三面環絕易入難出 “places surrounded by precipices on three sides⁠—easy to get into, but hard to get out of.”

  457. 天羅, explained as 草木蒙密鋒鏑莫施 “places covered with such dense undergrowth that spears cannot be used.”

  458. 天陷, explained as 卑下汙𣾈車騎不通 “low-lying places, so heavy with mud as to be impassible for chariots and horsemen.”

  459. 天隙 is explained by Mei Yao-chʽên as 兩山相向洞道狹惡 “a narrow difficult way between beetling cliffs,” but Tsʽao Kung says 山澗迫狹地形深數尺長數丈者, which seems to denote something on a much smaller scale. Tu Mu’s note is 地多溝坑坎陷木石 “ground covered with trees and rocks, and intersected by numerous ravines and pitfalls.” This is very vague, but Chia Lin explains it clearly enough as a defile or narrow pass: 兩邊險絕形狹長而數里, and Chang Yü takes much the same view. On the whole, the weight of the commentators certainly inclines to the rendering “defile.” But the ordinary meaning of (a crack or fissure) and the fact that 絕澗 above must be something in the nature of a defile, make me think that Sun Tzǔ is here speaking of crevasses. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read for , with the same meaning; the latter also has 大害 after 天郄⁠—a palpable gloss.

  460. The original text has 軍行, but has been generally adopted as yielding much better sense.

  461. 險阻 is 邱阜之地, according to Chang Yü.

  462. The original text omits and , so that and join to make a pair: “ponds and basins.” This is plausible enough at first sight, but there are several objections to the reading: (1) is unlikely to have got into text as a gloss on ; (2) it is easy to suppose, on the other hand, that and afterwards (to restore the balance of the sentence) were omitted by a copyist who jumped to the conclusion that and must go together; (3) the sense, when one comes to consider it, actually requires , for it is absurd to talk of pools and ponds as in themseles suitable places for an ambush; (4) Li Ching (571⁠–⁠649 AD) in his 兵法 Art of War has the words: 蔣潢蘙會則必索其伏. This is evidently a reminiscence of Sun Tzǔ, so there can be little doubt that stood in the text at this early date. It may be added that the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan both have , and the latter also reads for .

  463. I read 小林 with the Yü Lan in preference to 山林, given in the original text, which is accepted by the commentators without question. The text of the Tʽu Shu up to this point runs as follows: 潢井蒹葭林木蘙會者.

  464. The original text omits , which has been restored from the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan. The Tʽu Shu omits as well, making a substantive. On Chang Yü has the note: 又慮姦細潛隱覘我虛實聽我號令伏姦當為兩事 “We must also be on our guard against traitors who may lie in close covert, secretly spying out our weaknesses and overhearing out instructions. Fu and chien are to be taken separately.”

  465. Here begin Sun Tzǔ’s remarks on the reading of signs, much of which is so good that it could almost be included in a modern manual like Gen. Baden-Powell’s Aids to Scouting.

  466. Probably because we are in a strong position from which he wishes to dislodge us. “If he came close up to us,” says Tu Mu, “and tried to force a battle, he would seem to despise us, and there would be less probability of our responding to the challenge.”

  467. is here the opposite of used previously (“When the enemy is close at hand⁠ ⁠…”). The reading of the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan, 其所處者居易利也, is pretty obviously corrupt. The original text, which transposes and , may very possibly be right. Tu Mu tells us that there is yet another reading: 士爭其所居者易利也.

  468. Tsʽao Kung explains this as “felling trees to clear a passage,” and Chang Yü says: “Every army sends out scouts to climb high places and observe the enemy. If a scout sees that the trees of a forest are moving and shaking, he may know that they are being cut down to clear a passage for the enemy’s march.”

  469. Whenever the meaning of a passage happens to be somewhat elusive, Capt. Calthrop seems to consider himself justified in giving free rein to the imagination. Thus, though his text is here identical with ours, he renders the above: “Broken branches and trodden grass, as of the passing of a large host, must be regarded with suspicion.” Tu Yu’s explanation, borrowed from Tsʽao Kung, is as follows: “The presence of a number of screens or sheds in the midst of thick vegetation is a sure sign that the enemy has fled and, fearing pursuit, has constructed these hiding-places in order to make us suspect an ambush.” It appears that these “screens” were hastily knotted together out of any long grass which the retreating enemy happended to come across.

  470. Chang Yü’s explanation is doubtless right: “When birds that are flying along in a straight line suddenly shoot upwards, it means that soldiers are in ambush at the spot beneath.”

  471. As example of fou⁴ in the meaning of “ambuscade” may be found in the Tso Chuan, 9th year: 君為三覆以待之. In the present passage, however, it is to be distinguished from just above, in that it implies onward motion on the part of the attacking force. Thus, Li Chʽüan defines it as 不意而至, and Tu Mu as 來襲我也.

  472. 高而銳 “high and sharp,” or rising to a peak, is of course somewhat exaggerated as applied to dust. The commentators explain the phenomenon by saying that horses and chariots, being heavier than men, raise more dust, and also follow one another in the same wheel-track, whereas foot-soldiers would be marching in ranks, many abreast. According to Chang Yü, “every army on the march must have scouts (探侯之人) some way in advance, who on sighting dust raised by the enemy, will gallop back and report it to the commander-in-chief.” Cf. Gen. Baden-Powell: “As you move along, say, in a hostile country, your eyes should be looking afar for the enemy or any signs of him: figures, dust rising, birds getting up, glitter of arms, etc.781

  473. There is some doubt about the reading 樵採. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have 薪採, and Li Chʽüan proposes 薪來.

  474. Chang Yü says: “In apportioning the defences for a cantonment, light horse will be sent out to survey the position and ascertain the weak and strong points all along its circumference. Hence the small quantity of dust and its motion.”

  475. “As though they stood in great fear of us,” says Tu Mu. “Their object is to make us contemptuous and careless, after which they will attack us.” Chang Yü alludes to the story of 田單 Tʽien Tan of the Chʽi State, who in 279 BC was hard-pressed in his defence of 即墨 Chi-mo against the Yen forces, led by 騎劫 Chʽi Chieh. In ch. 82 of the Shih Chi we read: “Tʽien Tan openly said: ‘My only fear is that the Yen army may cut off the noses of their Chʽi prisoners and place them in the front rank to fight against us; that would be the undoing of our city.’ The other side being informed of this speech, at once acted on the suggestion; but those within the city were enraged at seeing their fellow-countrymen thus mutilated, and fearing only lest they should fall into the enemy’s hands, were nerved to defend themselves more obstinately than ever. Once again Tʽien Tan sent back converted spies who reported these words to the enemy: ‘What I dread most is that the men of Yen may dig up the ancestral tombs outside the town, and by inflicting this indignity on our forefathers cause us to become fainthearted.’ Forthwith the besiegers dug up all the graves and burned the corpses lying in them. And the inhabitants of Chi-mo, witnessing the outrage from the city-walls, wept passionately and were all impatient to go out and fight, their fury being increased tenfold. Tʽien Tan knew then that his soldiers were ready for any enterprise. But instead of a sword, he himself took a mattock in his hands, and ordered others to be distributed amongst his best warriors, while the ranks were filled up with their wives and concubines. He then served out all the remaining rations and bade his men eat their fill. The regular soldiers were told to keep out of sight, and the walls were manned with the old and weaker men and with women. This done, envoys were despatched to the enemy’s camp to arrange terms of surrender, whereupon the Yen army began shouting for joy. Tʽien Tan also collected 20,000 ounces of silver from the people, and got the wealthy citizens of Chi-mo to send it to the Yen general with the prayer that, when the town capitulated, he would not allow their homes to be plundered or their women to be maltreated. Chʽi Chieh, in high good humour, granted their prayer; but his army now became increasingly slack and careless. Meanwhile, Tʽien Tan got together a thousand oxen, decked them with pieces of red silk, painted their bodies, dragon-like, with coloured stripes, and fastened sharp blades on their horns and well-greased rushes on their tails. When night came on, he lighted the ends of the rushes, and drove the oxen through a number of holes which he had pierced in the walls, backing them up with a force of 5000 picked warriors. The animals, maddened with pain, dashed furiously into the enemy’s camp where they caused the utmost confusion and dismay; for their tails acted as torches, showing up the hideous pattern on their bodies, and the weapons on their horns killed or wounded any with whom they came into contact. In the meantime, the band of 5000 had crept up with gags in their mouths, and now threw themselves on the enemy. At the same moment a frightful din arose in the city itself, all those that remained behind making as much noise as possible by banging drums and hammering on bronze vessels, until heaven and earth were convulsed by the uproar. Terror-stricken, the Yen army fled in disorder, hotly pursued by the men of Chʽi, who succeeded in slaying their general Chʽi Chieh⁠ ⁠… The result of the battle was the ultimate recovery of some seventy cities which had belonged to the Chʽi State.”

  476. I follow the original text here, also adopted by the Tʽu Shu. The standard text reads 辭詭而强進驅者退也 on the strength of Tsʽao Kung’s commentary 詭詐也, which shows that his text included the word . Strong as this ground is, I do not think it can counterbalance the obvious superiority of the other reading in point of sense. not only provides no antithesis to , but makes the whole passage absurd; for if the language of the enemy is calculated to deceive, it cannot be known as deceitful at the time, and can therefore afford no “sign.” Moreover, the extra word in 强進驅者 (an awkward locution, by the way) spoils the parallelism with 益備者.

  477. The same, according to Tu Yu, as the 馳車 of chapter II (“In the operations of war⁠ ⁠…”).

  478. The Tʽung Tien omits .

  479. Tu Yu defines as 要約, and Li Chʽüan as 質盟之約 “a treaty confirmed by oaths and hostages.” Wang Hsi and Chang Yü, on the other hand, simply say 無故 “without reason,” “on a frivolous pretext,” as though bore the rather unusual sense of “important.” Capt. Calthrop has “without consultation,” which is too loose.

  480. Every man hastening to his proper place under his own regimental banner.

  481. I follow the Tʽu Shu in omitting after . Tu Mu quotes the Chou Li, ch. XXIX fol. 31: 車驟徒趨及表乃止.

  482. What Chia Lin calls 晷刻之期, as opposed to 尋常之期.

  483. Capt. Calthrop is hardly right in translating: “An advance, followed by sudden retirement.” It is rather a case of feigned confusion. As Tu Mu says: 偽為雜亂不整之狀.

  484. is here probably not a synonym for , but = “a weapon.” The original text has 杖而立者, which has been corrected from the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan.

  485. As Tu Mu remarks: 覩一人三軍可知也 “One may know the condition of a whole army from the behaviour of a single man.” The may mean either that they drink before drawing water for the army or before they return to camp. Chang Yü takes the latter view. The Tʽung Tien has the faulty reading 汲役先飲者, and the Yü Lan worse still, 汲設飲者.

  486. Not necessarily “booty,” as Capt. Calthrop translates it. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read 向人見利, etc.

  487. A useful fact to bear in mind when, for instance, as Chʽen Hao says, the enemy has secretly abandoned his camp.

  488. Owing to false alarms; or, as Tu Mu explains it: 恐懼不安故夜呯以自壯也 “Fear makes men restless; so they fall to shouting at night in order to keep up their courage.” The Tʽung Tien inserts before .

  489. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan omit .

  490. And therefore, as Capt. Calthrop says, slow to obey. Tu Yu understands the sentence differently: “If all the officers of an army are angry with their general, it means that they are broken with fatigue” (owing to the exertions which he has demanded from them).

  491. 粟馬肉食 is expanded by Mei Yao-chʽên (following Tu Mu) into 給糧以秣乎馬殺畜以饗乎士, which is the sense I have given above. In the ordinary course of things, the men would be fed on grain and the horses chiefly on grass.

  492. The Tʽung Tien reads , which is much the same as , and the Yü Lan , which is manifestly wrong.

  493. For , the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan both read .

  494. For 窮宼, see note 398 on VII. I may quote here the illustrative passage from the Hou Han Shu, ch. 71, given in abbreviated form by the Pʽei Wên Yün Fu: “The rebel 王國 Wang Kuo of Liang was besieging the town of 陳倉 Chʽên-tsʽang, and 皇甫嵩 Huang-fu Sung, who was in supreme command, and 董卓 Tung Cho were sent out against him. The latter pressed for hasty measures, but Sung turned a deaf ear to his counsel. At last the rebels were utterly worn out, and began to throw down their weapons of their own accord. Sung was now for advancing to the attack, but Cho said: ‘It is a principle of war not to pursue desperate men and not to press a retreating host.’ Sung answered: ‘That does not apply here. What I am about to attack is a jaded army, not a retreating host; with disciplined troops I am falling on a disorganised multitude, not a band of desperate men.’ Thereupon he advanced to the attack unsupported by his colleague, and routed the enemy, Wang Kuo being slain.” The inferior reading of the Tʽu Shu for this paragraph is as follows: 殺馬肉食者軍無糧也縣缻不返其舍者窮宼也. The first clause strikes me as rather shallow for Sun Tzǔ, and it is hard to make anything of 縣缻 in the second without the negative. Capt. Calthrop, nothing daunted, set down in his first edition: “When they cast away their cooking-pots.” He now has: “When the cooking-pots are hung up on the wall.”

  495. 諄諄 is well explained by Tu Mu as 乏氣聲促 “speaking with bated breath.”

  496. The Shuo Wên rather strangely defines by the word , but the Êrh Ya says “to join” or “contract,” which is undoubtedly its primary meaning. Chang Yü is right, then, in explaining it here by the word . The other commentators are very much at sea: Tsʽao Kung says 失志貌, Tu Yu 不眞, Tu Mu 顚倒失次貌, Chia Lin 不安貌, Mei Yao-chʽên 曠職事, Wang Hsi 患其上.

  497. 入入 is said to be the same as 如如.

  498. 失衆 is equivalent to 失其衆心, the subject of course being “the general,” understood. In the original text, which seems to be followed by several commentators, the whole passage stands thus: 諄諄翕翕徐與人言者失衆也. Here it would be the general who is talking to his men, not the men amongst themselves. For , which is the chief stumbling-block in the way of this reading, the Tʽu Shu gives the very plausible emendation 𧬈 (also read hsi, and defined by Kʽang Hsi as 疾言 “to speak fast”). But this is unnecessary if we keep to the standard text.

  499. Because, when an army is hard pressed, as Tu Mu says, there is always a fear of mutiny, and lavish rewards are given to keep the men in good temper.

  500. Because in such case discipline becomes relaxed, and unwonted severity is necessary to keep the men to their duty.

  501. I follow the interpretation of Tsʽao Kung: 先輕敵後聞其衆則心惡之也, also adopted by Li Chʽüan, Tu Mu and Chang Yü. Another possible meaning, set forth by Tu Yu, Chia Lin, Mei Yao-chʽên and Wang Hsi, is: “The general who is first tyrannical towards his men, and then in terror lest they should mutiny, etc.” This would connect the sentence with what before about rewards and punishments. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read “affection” instead of .

  502. Tu Mu says: 所以委質來謝此乃勢已窮或有他故必欲休息也 “If the enemy opens friendly relations by sending hostages, it is a sign that they are anxious for an armistice, either because their strength is exhausted or for some other reason.” But it hardly needs a Sun Tzǔ to draw such an obvious inference; and although Tu Mu is supported by Mei Yao-chʽên and Chang Yü, I cannot think that hostages are indicated by the word .

  503. Capt. Calthrop falls into a trap which often lurks in the word . He translates: “When both sides, eager for a fight, face each other for a considerable time, neither advancing nor retiring,” etc. Had he reflected a little, he would have seen that this is meaningless as addressed to a commander who has control over the movements of his own troops. 相迎, then, does not mean that the two armies go to meet each other, but simply that the other side comes up to us. Likewise with 相去. If this were not perfectly clear of itself, Mei Yao-chʽên’s paraphrase would make it so: 怒而來逆我, etc. As Tsʽao Kung points out, a manoeuvre of this sort may be only a ruse to gain time for an unexpected flank attack or the laying of an ambush.

  504. Wang Hsi’s paraphrase, partly borrowed from Tsʽao Kung, is 權力均足矣. Another reading, adopted by Chia Lin and the Tʽu Shu, is 兵非貴益多, which Capt. Calthrop renders, much too loosely: “Numbers are no certain mark of strength.”

  505. Literally, “no martial advance.” That is to say, chêng” tactics and frontal attacks must be eschewed, and stratagem resorted to instead.

  506. This is an obscure sentence, and none of the commentators succeed in squeezing very good sense out of it. The difficulty lies chiefly in the words 取人, which have been taken in every possible way. I follow Li Chʽüan, who appears to offer the simplest explanation: 惟得人者勝也 “Only the side that gets more men will win.” Tsʽao Kung’s note, concise as usual to the verge of incomprehensibility, is 廝養足也. Fortunately we have Chang Yü to expound its meaning to us in language which is lucidity itself: 兵力旣均又未見便雖未足剛進足以取人於廝養之中以并兵合力察敵而取勝不必假他兵以助己 “When the numbers are even, and no favourable opening presents itself, although we may not be strong enough to deliver a sustained attack, we can find additional recruits amongst our sutlers and camp-followers, and then, concentrating our forces and keeping a close watch on the enemy, contrive to snatch the victory. But we must avoid borrowing foreign soldiers to help us.” He then quotes from Wei Liao Tzǔ, ch. 3: 助卒名為十萬其實不過數萬耳 “The nominal strength of mercenary troops may by 100,000, but their real value will be not more than half that figure.” According to this interpretation, 取人 means “to get recruits,” not from outside, but from the ragtag and bobtail which follows in the wake of a large army. This does not sound a very soldierly suggestion, and I feel convinced that it is not what Sun Tzǔ meant. Chia Lin, on the other hand, takes the words in a different sense altogether, namely “to conquer the enemy” (cf. note 187 on I). But in that case they could hardly be followed by 而已. Better than this would be the rendering “to make isolated captures,” as opposed to 武進 “a general attack.”

  507. The force of 夫惟 is not easy to appreciate. Chʽên Hao says 殊無遠慮但輕敵者, thus referring to the second verb. He continues, quoting from the Tso Chuan: 蜂蠆有毒而况國乎則小敵亦不可輕 “If bees and scorpions carry poison, how much more will a hostile state! [僖公, XXII 3.] Even a puny opponent, then, should not be treated with contempt.”

  508. This is wrongly translated by Capt. Calthrop: “If the troops know the general, but are not affected by his punishments, they are useless.”

  509. and , according to Tsʽao Kung, are here equivalent to and respectively. Compare our two uses of the word “civil.” 晏子 Yen Tzǔ (BC 493) said of 司馬穰苴 Ssǔ-ma Jang-chü: 文能附衆武能威敵也 “His civil virtues endeared him to the people; his martial prowess kept his enemies in awe.” Cf. Wu Tzǔ, ch.init.: 夫總文武者軍之將也兼剛柔者兵之事也 “The ideal commander unites culture with a warlike temper; the profession of arms requires a combination of hardness and tenderness.” Again I must find fault with Capt. Calthrop’s translation: “By humane treatment we obtain obedience; authority brings uniformity.”

  510. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read: 令素行以教其人者也令素行則人服令素不行則人不服.

  511. The original text has 令素行者. 令素 is certainly awkward without , but on the other hand it is clear that Tu Mu accepted the Tʽung Tien text, which is identical with ours. He says: “A general ought in time of peace to show kindly confidence in his men and also make his authority respected, so that when they come to face the enemy, orders may be executed and discipline maintained, because they all trust and look up to him.” What Sun Tzǔ has said in the previous paragraph, however, would lead one rather to expect something like this: “If a general is always confident that his orders will be carried out,” etc. Hence I am tempted to think that he may have written 令素信行者. But this is perhaps too conjectural.

  512. Chang Yü says: 上以信使民民以信服上是上下相得也 “The general has confidence in the men under his command, and the men are docile, having confidence in him. Thus the gain is mutual.” He quotes a pregnant sentence from Wei Liao Tzǔ, ch. 4: 令之之法小過無更小疑無中 “The art of giving orders is not to try to rectify minor blunders and not to be swayed by petty doubts.” Vacillation and fussiness are the surest means of sapping the confidence of an army. Capt. Calthrop winds up the chapter with a final mistranslation of a more than usually heinous description: “Orders are always obeyed, if general and soldiers are in sympathy.” Besides inventing the latter half of the sentence, he has managed to invert protasis and apodosis.

  513. Only about a third of the chapter, up to “These six are the principles⁠ ⁠…”, deals with 地形, the subject being more fully treated in ch. XI. The “six calamities” are discussed in the next paragraphs (up to “These are six ways of courting defeat⁠ ⁠…”) and the rest of the chapter is again a mere string of desultory remarks, though not less interesting, perhaps on that account.

  514. Mei Yao-chʽên says: 道路交達 “plentifully provided with roads and means of communication.”

  515. Mei Yao-chʽên says: 網羅之地往必掛綴 “Net-like country, venturing into which you become entangled.”

  516. Tu Yu explains as . This meaning is still retained in modern phrases such as 支托, 支演 “stave off,” “delay.” I do not know why Capt. Calthrop calls 支地 “suspended ground,” unless he is confusing it with 挂地.

  517. The root idea in is narrowness; in , steepness.

  518. It is hardly necessary to point out the faultiness of this classification. A strange lack of logical perception is shown in the Chinaman’s unquestioning of glaring cross-divisions such as the above.

  519. Generally speaking, 平陸 “level country” is meant. Cf. note 444 on IX: 處易.

  520. The Tʽung Tien reads 居通地.

  521. See chapter IX, “Camp in high places, facing the sun.” The Tʽung Tien reads 先據其地.

  522. A curious use of as a verb, if our text is right. The general meaning is doubtless, as Tu Yu says, 無使敵絕己糧道 “not to allow the enemy to cut your communications.” Tu Mu, who was not a soldier and can hardly have had any practical experience of fighting, goes more into detail and speaks of protecting the line of communications by a wall (), or enclosing it by embankments on each side (作甬道)! In view of Napoleon’s dictum, “the secret of war lies in the communications,”782 we could wish that Sun Tzǔ had done more than skirt the edge of this important subject here and in chapter I (“By Method and discipline⁠ ⁠…”) and chapter VII (“We may take it then that an army⁠ ⁠…”). Col. Henderson says: “The line of supply may be said to be said to be as vital to the existence of an army as the heart to the life of a human being. Just as the duelist who finds his adversary’s point menacing him with certain death, and his own guard astray, is compelled to conform to his adversary’s movements, and to content himself with warding off his thrusts, so the commander whose communications are suddenly threatened finds himself in a false position, and he will be fortunate if he has not to change all his plans, to split up his force into more or less isolated detachments, and to fight with inferior numbers on ground which he has not had time to prepare, and where defeat will not be an ordinary failure, but will entail the ruin or the surrender of his whole army.”783

  523. Omitted by Capt. Calthrop.

  524. Capt. Calthrop is wrong in translating “retreat from it.”

  525. 不利 (an example of litotes) is paraphrased by Mei Yao-chʽên as 必受制 “you will receive a check.”

  526. 俱不便久相持也 “Each side finds it inconvenient to move, and the situation remains at a deadlock” (Tu Yu).

  527. Tu Yu says 佯背我去 “turning their backs on us and pretending to flee.” But this is only one of the lures which might induce us to quit our position. Here again is used as a verb, but this time in a different sense: “to hold out an advantage.”

  528. Mei Yao-chʽên paraphrases the passage in a curious jingle, the scheme of rhymes being abcbdd: 各居所險, 先出必敗, 利而誘我, 我不可愛, 僞去引敵, 半出而擊.

  529. Capt. Calthrop says: “Defiles, make haste to occupy.” But this is a conditional clause, answering to 若敵先居之 in the next paragraph.

  530. Because then, as Tu Yu observes, 皆制在我然後出奇以制敵 “the initiative will lie with us, and by making sudden and unexpected attacks we shall have the enemy at our mercy.” The commentators make a great bother about the precise meaning of , which to the foreign reader seems to present no difficulty whatever.

  531. Tsʽao Kung says: 地形險隘尤不可致於人 “The particular advantage of securing heights and defiles is that your actions cannot then be dictated by the enemy.” (For the enunciation of the grand principle alluded to, see chapter VI, “Therefore the clever combatant⁠ ⁠…”). Chang Yü tells the following anecdote of 裴行儉 Pʽei Hsing-chien (AD 619⁠–⁠682), who was sent on a punitive expedition against the Turkic tribes. “At nightfall he pitched his camp as usual, and it had already been completely fortified by wall and ditch, when suddenly he gave orders that the army should shift its quarters to a hill near by. This was highly displeasing to his officers, who protested loudly against the extra fatigue which it would entail on the men. Pʽei Hsing-chien, however, paid no heed to their remonstrances and had the camp moved as quickly as possible. The same night, a terrific storm came on, which flooded their former place of encampment to the depth of over twelve feet. The recalcitrant officers were amazed at the sight, and owned that they had been in the wrong. ‘How did you know what was going to happen?’ they asked. Pʽei Hsing-chien replied: ‘From this time forward be content to obey orders without asking unnecessary questions.’ [See Chiu Tʽang Shu, ch. 84, fol. 12 ro, and Hsin Tʽang Shu ch. 108, fol.vo.] From this it may be seen,” Chang Yü continues, “that high and sunny places are advantageous not only for fighting, but also because they are immune from disastrous floods.”

  532. The turning-point of 李世民 Li Shih-min’s campaign in 621 AD against the two rebels, 竇建德 Tou Chien-tê, King of Hsia, and 王世充 Wang Shih-chʽung, Prince of Chêng, was his seizure of the heights of 武牢 Wu-lao, in spite of which Tou Chien-tê persisted in his attempt to relieve his ally in Lo-yang, was defeated and taken prisoner. (See Chiu Tʽang Shu, ch. 2, fol.vo, and also ch. 54.)

  533. The Tʽung Tien reads 夫通形均勢.

  534. Tsʽao Kung says that 挑戰 means 延敵 “challenging the enemy.” But the enemy being far away, that plainly involves, as Tu Yu says, 迎敵 “going to meet him.” The point of course is, that we must not think of undertaking a long and wearisome march, at the end of which 是我困敵銳 “we should be exhausted and our adversary fresh and keen.”

  535. Or perhaps, “the principles relating to ground.” See, however, chapter I, “Earth comprises distances⁠ ⁠…”

  536. Capt. Calthrop omits 至任. Out of the foregoing six 地形, it will be noticed that nos. 3 and 6 have really no reference to the configuration of the country, and that only 4 and 5 can be said to convey any definite geographical idea.

  537. The Tʽu Shu reads 天地之災.

  538. I take exception to Capt. Calthrop’s rendering of and as “distress” and “disorganisation,” respectively.

  539. Cf. chapter III, “Hence, though an obstinate fight⁠ ⁠…” The general’s fault here is that of 不料力 “not calculating the enemy’s strength.” It is obvious that cannot have the same force as above (“If you are situated at a great distance⁠ ⁠…”), where it was equivalent to 兵力. I should not be inclined, however, to limit, with Chang Yü, to 將之智勇兵之利銳 “the wisdom and valour of the general and the sharpness of the weapons.” As Li Chʽüan very justly remarks, 若得形便之地用奇伏之計則可矣 “Given a decided advantage in position, or the help of some stratagem such as a flank attack or an ambuscade, it would be quite possible [to fight in the ratio of one to ten].”

  540. “laxity”⁠—the metaphor being taken from an unstrung bow. Capt. Calthrop’s “relaxation” is not good, on account of its ambiguity. Tu Mu cites the unhappy case of 田布 Tʽien Pu (Hsin Tʽang Shu, ch. 148), who was sent to Wei in 821 AD with orders to lead an army against 王廷湊 Wang Tʽing-tsʽou. But the whole time he was in command, his soldiers treated him with the utmost contempt, and openly flouted his authority by riding about the camp on donkeys, several thousands at a time. Tʽien Pu was powerless to put a stop to this conduct, and when, after some months had passed, he made an attempt to engage the enemy, his troops turned tail and dispersed in every direction. After that, the unfortunate man committed suicide by cutting his throat.

  541. Tsʽao Kung says: 吏强欲進卒弱輒陷 “The officers are energetic and want to press on, the common soldiers are feeble and suddenly collapse.” Note that is to be taken literally of physical weakness, whereas in the former clause it is figurative. Li Chʽüan makes equivalent to , and Tu Mu explains it as 陷沒於死地 “stumbling into a deathtrap.”

  542. 大吏, according to Tsʽao Kung, and the 小將 “generals of inferior rank.” But Li Chʽüan, Chʽên Hao and Wang Hsi take the term as simply convertible with or 大將.

  543. Tsʽao Kung makes 大將, understood, the subject of , which seems rather farfetched. Wang Hsi’s note is: 謂將怒不以理且不知裨佐之才激致其兇懟如山之崩壞也 “This means, the general is angry without just cause, and at the same time does not appreciate the ability of his subordinate officers; thus he arouse fierce resentment and brings an avalanche of ruin upon his head.” He takes , therefore, in the sense of ; but I think that Chʽên Hao is right in his paraphrase 不顧能否 “they don’t care if it be possible or no.” My interpretation of the whole passage is that of Mei Yao-chʽên and Chang Yü. Tu Mu gives a long extract from the Tso Chuan, 宣公, XII 3, showing how the great battle of Pi (597 BC) was lost for the Chin State through the contumacy of 先縠 Hsien Hu and the resentful spite of 魏錡 Wei I and 趙旃 Chao Chan. Chang Yü also alludes to the mutinous conduct of 欒黶 Luan Yen (Tso Chuan 襄公, XIV 3).

  544. Wei Liao Tzǔ (ch. 4) says: 上無疑令, 則衆不二聽, 動無疑事, 則衆不二志 “If the commander gives his orders with decision, the soldiers will not wait to hear them twice; if his moves are made without vacillation, the soldiers will not be in two minds about doing their duty.” General Baden-Powell says, italicising the words: “The secret of getting successful work out of your trained men lies in one nutshell⁠—in the clearness of the instructions they receive.”784 Assuming that clear instructions beget confidence, this is very much what Wei Liao Tzǔ (loc. cit.) goes on to say: 未有不信其心而能得其力者也. Cf. also Wu Tzǔ ch. 3: 用兵之害猶豫最大三軍之災生於狐疑 “the most fatal defect in a military leader is diffidence; the worst calamitites that befall an army arise from hesitation.”

  545. 史卒皆不拘常度 “Neither officers nor men have any regular routine” (Tu Mu).

  546. Chang Yü paraphrases the latter part of the sentence 不選驍勇之士使為先鋒兵必敗北也, and continues: 凡戰必用精銳為前鋒者一則壯吾志一則挫敵威也 “Whenever there is fighting to be done, the keenest spirits should be appointed to serve in the front ranks, both in order to strengthen the resolution of our own men and to demoralise the enemy.” Cf. the primi ordines of Caesar (De Bello Gallico, V 28, 44 et al.). There seems little to distinguish from above (“Other conditions being equal⁠ ⁠…”), except that is a more forcible word.

  547. Chʽên Hao makes them out to be: (1) 不量寡衆 “neglect to estimate the enemy’s strength;” (2) 本乏刑德 “want of authority;” (3) 失於訓練 “defective training;” (4) 非理興怒 “unjustifiable anger;” (5) 法令不行 “nonobservance of discipline;” (6) 不擇驍果 “failure to use picked men.”

  548. See supra, “These six are the principles connected with Earth.”

  549. Chia Lin’s text has the reading for . Chʽên Hao says: 天時不如地利 “The advantages of weather and season are not equal to those connected with ground.”

  550. The insertion of a “but” is necessary to show the connection of thought here. A general should always utilise, but never rely wholly on natural advantages of terrain.

  551. 制勝 is one of those condensed expressions which mean so much in Chinese, and so little in an English translation. What it seems to imply is complete mastery of the situation from the beginning.

  552. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read 計極險易利害遠近. I am decidedly puzzled by Capt. Calthrop’s translation: “an eye for steepness, command and distances.” Where did he find the word which I have put in italics?

  553. A somewhat free translation of . As Chang Yü remarks, these are 兵之本 “the essentials of soldiering,” ground being only a helpful accessory.

  554. Cf. chapter VIII, “… commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.” Huang-shih Kung of the Chʽin dynasty, who is said to have been the patron of 張良 Chang Liang and to have written the 三略, has these words attributed to him: 出軍行師將在自專進退內御則功難成故聖主明王跪而推轂 “The responsibility of setting an army in motion must devolve on the general alone; if advance and retreat are controlled from the Palace, brilliant results will hardly be achieved. Hence the godlike ruler and the enlightened monarch are content to play a humble part in furthering their country’s cause [lit., kneel down to push the chariot wheel].” This means that 閫外之事將軍裁之 “in matters lying outside the zenana, the decision of the military commander must be absolute.” Chang Yü also quotes the saying: 軍中不聞天子之詔 “Decrees of the Son of Heaven do not penetrate the walls of a camp.” Napoleon, who has been accused of allowing his generals too little independence of action, speaks in the same sense: “Un général en chef n’est pas à couvert de ses fautes à la guerre par un ordre de son souverain ou du ministre, quand celui qui le donne est éloigné du champ d’opération, et qu’il connaît pas du tout le dernier état des choses.785

  555. It was Wellington, I think, who said that the hardest thing of all for a soldier is to retreat.

  556. , which is omitted by the Tʽu Shu, is said by Chʽên Hao to be equivalent to . If it had to be separately translated, it would be something like our word “accrue.”

  557. A noble presentment, in few words, of the Chinese “happy warrior.” Such a man, says Ho Shih, 罪及其身不悔也 “even if he had to suffer punishment, would not regret his conduct.”

  558. Cf. chapter I, “The Moral Law causes the people⁠ ⁠…” In this connection, Tu Mu draws for us an engaging picture of the famous general Wu Chʽi, from whose treatise on war I have frequently had occasion to quote: “He wore the same clothes and ate the same food as the meanest of his soldiers, refused to have either a horse to ride or a mat to sleep on, carried his own surplus rations wrapped in a parcel, and shared every hardship with his men. One of his soldiers was suffering from an abscess, and Wu Chʽi himself sucked out the virus. The soldier’s mother, hearing this, began wailing and lamenting. Somebody asked her, saying: ‘Why do you cry? Your son is only a common soldier, and yet the commander-in-chief himself has sucked the poison from his sore.’ The woman replied: ‘Many years ago, Lord Wu performed a similar service for my husband, who never left him afterwards, and finally met his death at the hands of the enemy. And now that he has done the same for my son, he too will fall fighting I know not where.’ ” Li Chʽüan mentions 楚子 the Viscount of Chʽu, who invaded the small state of Hsiao during the winter. 申公 The Duke of Shên said to him: “Many of the soldiers are suffering severely from the cold.” So he made a round of the whole army, comforting and encouraging the men; and straightway they felt as if they were clothed in garments lined with floss silk. (Tso Chuan, 宣公, XII 5.) Chang Yü alludes to the same passage, saying: 温言一撫士同挾纊.

  559. Capt. Calthrop has got these three clauses quite wrong. The last he translates: “overindulgence may produce disorder.”

  560. Cf. chapter IX, “If soldiers are punished⁠ ⁠…” We read in the 陰符經, pt. 2: 害生于思 “Injury comes out of kindness.” Li Ching once said that if you could make your soldiers afraid of you, they should not be afraid of the enemy. Tu Mu recalls an instance of stern military discipline which occurred in 219 AD, when 呂蒙 Lü Mêng was occupying the town of 江陵 Chiang-ling. He had given stringent orders to his army not to molest the inhabitants nor take anything from them by force. Nevertheless, a certain officer serving under his banner, who happened to be a fellow-townsman, ventured to appropriate a bamboo hat () belonging to one of the people, in order to wear it over his regulation helmet as a protection against the rain. Lü Mêng considered that the fact of his being also a native of 汝南 Ju-nan should not be allowed to palliate a clear breach of discipline, and accordingly he ordered his summary execution, the tears rolling down his face, however, as he did so. This act of severity filled the army with wholesome awe, and from that time forth even articles dropped in the highway were not picked up. (San Kuo Chih, ch. 54, f. 13 ro & vo).

  561. That is, as Tsʽao Kung says, “the issue in this case is uncertain.”

  562. Cf. chapter III, “By commanding the army to advance⁠ ⁠…”

  563. I may take this opportunity of pointing out the rather nice distinction in meaning between and . The latter is simply “to attack” without any further implication, whereas is a stronger word which in nine cases out of ten means “to attack with expectation of victory,” “to fall upon,” as we should say, or even “to crush.” On the other hand, is not quite synonymous with , which is mostly used of operations on a larger scale, as of one State making war on another, often with the added idea of invasion. , finally, has special reference to the subjugation of rebels. See Mencius, VII 2 II 2.

  564. The reason being, according to Tu Mu, that he has taken his measures so thoroughly as to ensure victory beforehand. “He does not move recklessly,” says Chang Yü, “so that when he does move, he makes no mistakes.” Another reading substitutes for and for . The latter variant only is adopted by the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan. Note that here means “at the end of his mental resources.”

  565. Capt. Calthrop makes the saying end here, which cannot be justified.

  566. and are transposed for the sake of the jingle between and . The original text, however, has 知天知地, and the correction has been made from the Tʽung Tien.

  567. As opposed to 勝之半, above. The original text has 勝乃不窮, the corruption being perhaps due to the occurrence of 不窮 in the preceding sentence. Here, however 不窮 would not be synonymous with 不困, but equivalent to 不可以窮 “inexhaustible,” “beyond computation.” Cf. chapter V, “The direct and the indirect⁠ ⁠…” The Tʽung Tien has again supplied the true reading. Li Chʽüan sums up as follows: 人事天時地利三者同知則百戰百勝 “Given a knowledge of three things⁠—the affairs of man, the seasons of heaven and the natural advantages of earth⁠—, victory will invariably crown your battles.”

  568. Li Chʽüan is not quite right in calling these 勝敵之地. As we shall see, some of them are highly disadvantageous from the military point of view. Wang Hsi more correctly says: 用兵之地利害有九也 “There are nine military situations, good and bad.” One would like to distinguish the 九地 from the six 地形 of chap. X by saying that the latter refer to the natural formation or geographical features of the country, while the 九地 have more to do with the condition of the army, being 地勢 “situations” as opposed to “grounds.” But it is soon found impossible to carry out the distinction. Both are cross-divisions, for among the 地形 we have “temporising ground” side by side with “narrow passes,” while in the present chapter there is even greater confusion.

  569. So called because the soldiers, being near to their homes and anxious to see their wives and children, are likely to seize the opportunity afforded by a battle and scatter in every direction. “In their advance,” observes Tu Mu, “they will lack the valour of desperation, and when they retreat, they will find harbours of refuge.” The , which appears in the Tʽu Shu, seems to have been accidentally omitted in my edition of the standard text.

  570. Li Chʽüan and Ho Shih say 輕於退也 “because of the facility for retreating,” and the other commentators give similar explanations. Tu Mu remarks: 師出越境必焚舟梁示民無返顧之心 “When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.” I do not think that “disturbing ground,” Capt. Calthrop’s rendering of 輕地, has anything to justify it. If an idiomatic translation is out of the question, one should at least attempt to be literal.

  571. I must apologise for using this word in a sense not known to the dictionary, i.e. “to be contended for”⁠—Tu Mu’s 必爭之地. Tsʽao Kung says: 可以少勝衆弱勝强 “ground on which the few and the weak can defeat the many and the strong,” such as 阨喉 “the neck of a pass,” instanced by Li Chʽüan. Thus, Thermopylae was a 爭地, because the possession of it, even for a few days only, meant holding the entire invading army in check and thus gaining invaluable time. Cf. Wu Tzǔ, ch. V ad init.: 以一擊十莫善於阨 “For those who have to fight in the ratio of one to ten, there is nothing better than a narrow pass.” When 呂光 Lü Kuang was returning from his triumphant expedition to Turkestan in 385 AD, and had got as far as 宜禾 I-ho, laden with spoils, 梁熙 Liang Hsi, administrator of 涼州 Liang-chou, taking advantage of the death of Fu Chien, King of Chʽin, plotted against him and was for barring his way into the province. 楊翰 Yang Han, governor of 高昌 Kao-chʽang, counselled him, saying: “Lü Kuang is fresh from his victories in the west, and his soldiers are vigorous and mettlesome. If we oppose him in the shifting sands of the desert, we shall be no match for him, and we must therefore try a different plan. Let us hasten to occupy the defile at the mouth of the 高梧 Kao-wu pass, thus cutting him off from supplies of water, and when his troops prostrated with thirst, we can dictate our own terms without moving. Or if you think that the pass I mention is too far off, we could make stand against him at the 伊吾 I-wu pass, which is nearer. The cunning and resource of 子房 Tzǔ-fang himself [i.e. 張良] would be expended in vain against the enormous strength of these two positions.” Liang Hsi, refusing to act on this advice, was overwhelmed and swept away by the invader. (See 晉書, ch. 122,, and 歷代紀事年表, ch. 43, fol. 26.)

  572. This is only a makeshift translation of , which according to Tsʽao Kung stands for 交錯 “ground covered with a network of roads,” like a chessboard. Another interpretation, suggested by Ho Shih, is 交通 “ground on which intercommunication is easy.” In either case, it must evidently be 平原 “flat country,” and therefore 不可杜絕 “cannot be blocked.” Cf. 通形, chapter X. (“Ground which can be freely traversed⁠ ⁠…”

  573. 我與敵相當而旁有他國也 “Our country adjoining the enemy’s and a third country conterminous with both.” (Tsʽao Kung.) Mêng Shih instances the small principality of Chêng, which was bounded on the northeast by Chʽi, on the west by Chin, and on the south by Chʽu.

  574. 天下 of course stands for the loose confederacy of states into which China was divided under the Chou dynasty. The belligerent who holds this dominating position can constrain most of them to become his allies. See infra, “On open ground, I would⁠ ⁠…” appears at first sight to be “the masses” or “population” of the Empire, but it is more probably, as Tu Yu says, 諸侯之衆.

  575. Capt. Calthrop’s “path-ridden ground” might stand well enough for 交地 above, but it does not bring out the force of 衢地, which clearly denotes the central position where important highways meet.

  576. After , the Tʽung Tien intercalates the gloss 難以返.

  577. Wang Hsi explains the name by saying that 兵至此者事勢重也 “when an army has reached such a point, its situation is serious.” Li Chʽüan instances (1) the victorious march of 樂毅 Yo I into the capital of Chʽi in 284 BC, and (2) the attack on Chʽu, six years later, by the Chʽin general 白起 Po Chʽi.

  578. Or simply, “forests.” I follow the Tʽu Shu in omitting the before 山林, given in the standard text, which is not only otiose but spoils the rhythm of the sentence.

  579. pʽi³ (to be distinguished from i⁴) is defined by Kʽang Hsi (after the Shuo Wên as “to destroy.” Hence Chia Lin explains 圮地 as ground 經水所毀 “that has been ruined by water passing over it,” and Tu Yu simply as 沮洳之地 “swampy ground.” But Chʽên Hao says that the word is specially applied to deep hollows⁠—what Chu-ko Liang, he tells us, used to designate by the expressive term 地獄 “earth-hells.” Compare the 天井 of note 455 on IX.

  580. The situation, as pictured by Tsʽao Kung, is very similar to the 圍地, except that here escape is no longer possible: 前有高山後有大水進則不得退則有礙 “A lofty mountain in front, a large river behind, advance impossible, retreat blocked.” Chʽên Hao says: 人在死地如坐漏船伏燒屋 “to be on ‘desperate ground’ is like sitting in a leaking boat or crouching in a burning house.” Tu Mu quotes from Li Ching a vivid description of the plight of an army thus entrapped: “Suppose an army invading hostile territory without the aid of local guides:⁠—it falls into a fatal snare and is at the enemy’s mercy. A ravine on the left, a mountain on the right, a pathway so perilous that the horses have to be roped together and the chariots carried in slings, no passage open in front, retreat cut off behind, no choice but to proceed in single file (鴈行魚貫之嚴). Then, before there is time to range our soldiers in order of battle, the enemy in overwhelming strength suddenly appears on the scene. Advancing, we can nowhere take a breathing-space; retreating, we have no haven of refuge. We seek a pitched battle, but in vain; yet standing on the defensive, none of us has a moment’s respite. If we simply maintain our ground, whole days and months will crawl by; the moment we make a move, we have to sustain the enemy’s attacks on front and rear. The country is wild, destitute of water and plants; the army is lacking in the necessaries of life, the horses are jaded and the men worn-out, all the resources of strength and skill unavailing, the pass so narrow that single man defending it can check the onset of ten thousand; all means of offence in the hands of the enemy, all points of vantage already forfeited by ourselves:⁠—in this terrible plight, even though we had the most valiant soldiers and the keenest of weapons, how could they be employed with the slightest effect?” Students of Greek history may be reminded of the awful close to the Sicilian expedition, and the agony of the Athenians under Nicias and Demosthenes. (See Thucydides, VII 78 sqq.)

  581. But rather let all your energies be bent on occupying the advantageous position first. So Tsʽao Kung. Li Chʽüan and others, however, suppose the meaning to be that the enemy has already forestalled us, so that it the meaning to be that the enemy has already forestalled us, so that it would be sheer madness to attack. In the 孫子敘錄, when the King of Wu inquires what should be done in this case, Sun Tzǔ replies: “The rule with regard to contentious ground is that those in possession have the advantage over the other side. If a position of this kind is secured first by the enemy, beware of attacking him. Lure him away by pretending to flee⁠—show your banners and sound your drums⁠—make a dash for other places that he cannot afford to lose⁠—trail brushwood and raise a dust⁠—counfound his ears and eyes⁠—detach a body of your best troops, and place it secretly in ambuscade. Then your opponent will sally forth to the rescue.”

  582. Because the attempt would be futile, and would expose the blocking force itself to serious risks. There are two interpretations of 無絕. I follow that of Chang Yü (不可以兵阻絕其路). The other is indicated in Tsʽao Kung’s brief note: 相及屬也 “Draw closer together”⁠—i.e., see that a portion of your own army is not cut off. Wang Hsi points out that 交地 is only another name for the 通地 “accessible ground” of chapter X (“Ground which can be freely traversed⁠ ⁠…”), and says that the advice here given is simply a variation of 利糧道 “keep a sharp eye on the line of supplies,” be careful that your communications are not cut. The Tʽung Tien reads 無相絕.

  583. Or perhaps, “form alliances with neighbouring states.” Thus Tsʽao Kung has: 結諸侯也. Capt. Calthrop’s “cultivate intercourse” is much too timid and vague. The original text reads 交合.

  584. On this, Li Chʽüan has the following delicious note: 深入敵境不可非義失人心如漢高𥘲入秦無犯婦女無取寶貨得人心也此筌以掠字為無掠字 “When an army penetrates far into the enemy’s country, care must be taken not to alienate the people by unjust treatment. Follow the example of the Han Emperor Kao Tsu, whose march into Chʽin territory was marked by no violation of women or looting of valuables. [Nota bene: this was in 207 BC, and may well cause us to blush for the Christian armies that entered Peking in 1900 AD.] Thus he won the hearts of all. In the present passage, then, I think that the true reading must be, not ‘plunder,’ but 無掠 ‘do not plunder.’ ” Alas, I fear that in this instance the worthy commentator’s feelings outran his judgment. Tu Mu, at least, has no such illusions. He says: “When encamped on ‘serious ground,’ there being no inducement as yet to advance further, and no possibility of retreat, one ought to take measures for a protracted resistance by bringing in provisions from all sides, and keep a close watch on the enemy.” Cf. also chapter II: 因糧於敵 (“Bring war material⁠ ⁠…”).

  585. Or, in the words of chapter VIII, 無舍 “do not encamp.”

  586. Tsʽao Kung says: 發奇謀 “Try the effect of some unusual artifice;” and Tu Yu amplifies this by saying: 居此則當權謀詐譎可以免難 “In such a position, some scheme must be devised which will suit the circumstances, and if we can succeed in deluding the enemy, the peril may be escaped.” This is exactly what happened on the famous occasion when Hannibal was hemmed in among the mountains on the road to Casilinum, and to all appearances entrapped by the Dictator Fabius. The stratagem which Hannibal devised to baffle his foes remarkably like that which Tʽien Tan had also employed with success exactly 62 years before. (See IX, note 475.) When night came on, bundles of twigs were fastened to the horns of some 2000 oxen and set on first, the terrified animals being then quickly driven along the mountain side towards the passes which were beset by the enemy. The strange spectacle of these rapidly moving lights so alarmed and discomfited the Romans that they withdrew from their position, and Hannibal’s army passed safely through the defile. (See Polybius, III 93, 94; Livy, XXII 16, 17.)

  587. For, as Chia Lin remarks: 力戰或生守隅則死 “if you fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; whereas death is certain if you cling to your corner.”

  588. 所謂 is omitted in the Tʽu Shu text.

  589. More literally, “cause the front and rear to lose touch with each other.”

  590. I doubt if 貴賤 can mean “officers and men,” as Capt. Calthrop translates. This is wanted for 上下.

  591. The reading , derived from the Yü Lan, must be considered very doubtful. The original text has , and the Tʽu Shu .

  592. 卒離 “they scattered the enemy,” which cannot be right.

  593. Mei Yao-chʽên’s note makes the sense plain: 或已離而不能合或雖合而不能齊. All these clauses, of course, down to 不齊, are dependent on 使, in the previous paragraph.

  594. Mei Yao-chʽên connects this with the foregoing: 然能使敵若此當須有利則動無利則止 “Having succeeded in thus dislocating the enemy, they would push forward in order to secure any advantage to be gained; if there was no advantage to be gained, they would remain where they were.”

  595. 敢問 is like 或問, introducing a supposed question.

  596. Opinions differ as to what Sun Tzǔ had in mind. Tsʽao Kung thinks it is 其所恃之利 “some strategical advantage on which the enemy is depending.” Tu Mu says: 據我便地畧我田野利其糧道斯三者敵人之所愛惜倚恃者也 “The three things which an enemy is anxious to do, and on the accomplishment of which his success depends, are: (1) to capture our favourable positions; (2) to ravage our cultivated land; (3) to guard his own communications.” Our object then must be to thwart his plans in these three directions and thus render him helpless. (Cf. chapter III, “Thus the highest form of generalship⁠ ⁠…”) But this exegesis unduly strains the meaning of and , and I agree with Chʽên Hao, who says that 所愛 does not refer only to strategical advantages, but is any person or thing that may happen to be of importance to the enemy. By boldly seizing the initiative in this way, you at once throw the other side on the defensive.

  597. 兵之情 means “the conditions of war,” not, as Capt. Calthrop says, “the spirit of the troops.” According to Tu Mu, 此統言兵之情狀 “this is a summary of leading principles in warfare,” and he adds: 此乃兵之深情將之至事也 “These are the profoundest truths of military science, and the chief business of the general.” The following anecdotes, told by Ho Shih, show the importance attached to speed by two of China’s greatest generals. In 227 AD, 孟達 Mêng Ta, governor of 新城 Hsin-chʽêng under the Wei Emperor Wên Ti, was meditating defection to the House of Shu, and had entered into correspondence with Chu-ko Liang, Prime Minister of that State. The Wei general Ssǔ-ma I was then military governor of Wan, and getting wind of Mêng Ta’s treachery, he at once set off with an army to anticipate his revolt, having previously cajoled him by a specious message of friendly import. Ssǔ-ma’s officers came to him and said: “If Mêng Ta has leagued himself with Wu and Shu, the matter should be thoroughly investigated before we make a move.” Ssǔ-ma I replied: “Mêng Ta is an unprincipled man, and we ought to go and punish him at once, while he is still wavering and before he has thrown off the mask.” Then, by a series of forced marches, he brought his army under the walls of Hsin-chʽêng within the space of eight days. Now Mêng Ta had previously said in a letter to Chu-ko Liang: “Wan is 1200 li from here. When the news of my revolt reaches Ssǔ-ma I, he will at once inform his Imperial master, but it will be a whole month before any steps can be taken, and by that time my city will be well fortified. Besides, Ssǔ-ma I is sure not to come himself, and the generals that will be sent against us are not worth troubling about.” The next letter, however, was filled with consternation: “Though only eight days have passed since I threw off my allegiance, an army is already at the city-gates. What miraculous rapidity is this!” A fortnight later, Hsin-chʽêng had fallen and Mêng Ta had lost his head. (See Chin Shu, ch. 1, f. 3.) In 621 AD, Li Ching was sent from 夔州 Kʽuei-chou in Ssǔ-chʽuan to reduce the successful rebel 蕭銑 Hsiao Hsien, who had set up as Emperor at the modern 荆州 Ching-chou Fu in Hupeh. It was autumn, and the Yangtsze being then in flood, Hsiao Hsien never dreamt that his adversary would venture to come down through the gorges, and consequently made no preparations. But Li Ching embarked his army without loss of time, and was just about to start when the other generals implored him to postpone his departure until the river was in a less dangerous state for navigation. Li Ching replied: “To the soldier, overwhelming speed is of paramount importance, and he must never miss opportunitites. Now is the time to strike, before Hsiao Hsien even knows that we have got an army together. If we seize the present moment when the river is in flood, we shall appear before his capital with startling suddenness, like the thunder which is heard before you have time to stop your ears against it. [See VII, note 371.] This is the great principle in war. Even if he gets to know of our approach, he will have to levy his soldiers in such a hurry that they will not be fit to oppose us. Thus the full fruits of victory will be ours.” All came about as he predicted, and Hsiao Hsien was obliged to surrender, nobly stipulating that his people should be spared and he alone suffer the penalty of death. (See Hsin Tʽang Shu, ch. 93, f.vo)

  598. Cf. supra, “On serious ground, gather in plunder.” Li Chʽüan does not venture on a note here.

  599. 謹養, according to Wang Hsi, means: 撫循飲食周謹之 “Pet them, humour them, give them plenty of food and drink, and look after them generally.”

  600. Tu Mu explains these words in a rhyming couplet: 氣全力盛一發取勝; and Chʽên Hao recalls the line of action adopted in 224 BC by the famous general 王翦 Wang Chien, whose military genius largely contributed to the success of the First Emperor. He had invaded the Chʽu State, where a universal levy was made to oppose him. But, being doubtful of the temper of his troops, he declined all invitations to fight and remained strictly on the defensive. In vain did the Chʽu general try to force a battle: day after day Wang Chien kept inside his walls and would not come out, but devoted his whole time and energy to winning the affection and confidence of his men. He took care that they should be well fed, sharing his own meals with them, provided facilities for bathing, and employed every method of judicious indulgence to weld them into a loyal and homogenous body. After some time had elapsed, he told off certain persons to find out how the men were amusing themselves. The answer, that they were contending with one another in putting the weight and long-jumping (投石超距). When Wang Chien heard that they were engaged in these athletic pursuits, he knew that their spirits had been strung up to the required pitch and that they were now ready for fighting. By this time the Chʽu army, after repeating their challenge again and again, had marched away eastwards in disgust. The Chʽin general immediately broke up his camp and followed them, and in the battle that ensued they were routed with great slaughter. Shortly afterwards, the whole of Chʽu was conquered by Chʽin, and the king 負芻 Fu-chʽu led into captivity. (See Shih Chi, ch. 73, It should be noted that, being a taboo character under the Chʽin dynasty, the name figures as throughout.)

  601. In order that the enemy may never know exactly where you are. It has struck me, however, that the true reading might be, not 運兵, but 連兵 “link your army together” (cf. supra, 吾將使之屬 “Therefore, on dispersive ground⁠ ⁠…”), which would be more in keeping with 併氣積力. Capt. Calthrop cuts the Gordian knot by omitting the words altogether.

  602. Chʽang Yü’s paraphrase is: 常為不可測度之計.

  603. Cf. Nicias’ speech to the Athenians: Τό τε ξύμπαν γνῶτε, ὦ ἄνδρες στρατιῶται, ἀναγκαῖόν τε ὂν ὑμῖν ἀνδράσιν ἀγαθοῖς γίγνεσθαι ὡς μὴ ὄντος χωρίου ἐγγὺς ὅποι ἂν μαλακισθέντες σωθείητε, etc. (Thucydides VII 77 VII)

  604. by itself constitutes the protasis, and is the interrogative = . Capt. Calthrop makes the protasis end with : “If there be no alternative but death.” But I do not see how this is to be got out of the Chinese. Chang Yü gives a clear paraphrase: 士卒死戰安不得志, and quotes his favourite Wei Liao Tzǔ (ch. 3): 一夫仗劔擊於巿萬人無不避之者臣謂非一人之獨勇萬人皆不肖也何則必死與必生固不侔也 “If one man were to run amok with a sword in the marketplace, and everybody else tried to get out of his way, I should not allow that this man alone had courage and that all the rest were contemptible cowards. The truth is, that a desperado and a man who sets some value on his life do not meet on even terms.”

  605. 士人 appears to stand for the more usual 士卒. Chang Yü says: 同在難地安得不共竭其力 “If they are in an awkward place together, they will surely exert their united strength to get out of it.”

  606. Capt. Calthrop weakly says: “there is unity,” as though the text were 則專, as above (“The following are the principles⁠ ⁠…”). But introduces quite a new idea⁠—that of tenacity⁠—which Tsʽao Kung tries to explain by the word “to bind fast.”

  607. Tu Mu says: 不待修整而自戒懼. Capt. Calthrop wrongly translates 不修 “without warnings.”

  608. Literally, “without asking, you will get.” Chang Yü’s paraphrase is: 不求索而得情意.

  609. Chang Yü says: 不約束而親上.

  610. This last clause is very similar in sense to the one preceding, except that indicates the soldiers’ attachment to their leader, and the leader’s attitude towards them. I rather doubt if can mean “they will have confidence in their leader,” as the commentary seems to indicate. That way, the sense is not nearly so good. On the other hand, it is just possible that here, as in VIII, note 416 and note 663, may = : “without orders, they will carry out [their leader’s plans].” The whole of this paragraph, of course, has reference to “desperate ground.”

  611. is amplified by Tsʽao Kung into 妖祥之言, and into 疑惑之計. Cf. the Ssǔ-ma Fa, ch. 3: 滅厲祥.

  612. The superstitious, “bound in to saucy doubts and fears,” degenerate into cowards and “die many times before their deaths.” Tu Mu quotes Huang-shih Kung: 禁巫祝不得為吏士卜問軍之吉凶恐亂軍士之心 “ ‘Spells and incantations should be strictly forbidden, and no officer allowed to inquire by divination into the fortunes of an army, for fear the soldiers’s minds should be seriously perturbed.’ The meaning is,” he continues, “that if all doubts and scruples are discarded, your men will never falter in their resolution until they die.” The reading of the standard text is 無所之 “there will be no refuge,” which does not fit in well here. I therefore prefer to adopt the variant , which evidently stood in Li Chʽüan’s text.

  613. Chang Yü has the best note on this passage: 貨與壽人之所愛也所以燒擲財寶割棄性命者非懀惡之也不得已也 “Wealth and long life are things for which all men have a natural inclination. Hence, if they burn or fling away valuables, and scarifice their own lives, it is not that they dislike them, but simply that they have no choice.” Sun Tzǔ is slyly insinuating that, as soldiers are but human, it is for the general to see that temptations to shirk fighting and grow rich are not thrown in their way. Capt. Calthrop, mistaking for the adjective, has: “not because money is a bad thing⁠ ⁠… not because long life is evil.”

  614. The word in the Chinese is “snivel.” This is taken to indicate more genuine grief than tears alone.

  615. Not because they are afraid, but because, as Tsʽao Kung says, 皆持必死之計 “all have embraced the firm resolution to do or die.” We may remember that the heroes of the Iliad were equally childlike in showing their emotion. Chang Yü alludes to the mournful parting at the I River between 荆軻 Ching Kʽo and his friends, when the former was sent to attempt the life of the King of Chʽin (afterwards First Emperor) in 227 BC. The tears of all flowed down like rain as he bade them farewell and uttered the following lines: 風蕭蕭兮, 易水寒, 壯士一去兮, 不復還 “The shrill blast is blowing, Chilly the burn; Your champion is going⁠—Not to return.”786

  616. was the personal name of 專諸 Chuan Chu, a native of the Wu State and contemporary with Sun Tzǔ himself, who was employed by 公子光 Kung-tzǔ Kuang, better known as Ho Lü Wang, to assassinate his sovereign 王僚 Wang Liao with a dagger which he secreted in the belly of a fish served up at a banquet. He succeeded in his attempt, but was immediately hacked to pieces by the king’s bodyguard. This was in 515 BC. The other hero referred to, 曹劌 Tsʽao Kuei (or Tsʽao Mo), performed the exploit which has made his name famous 166 years earlier, in 681 BC. Lu had been thrice defeated by Chʽi, and was just about to conclude a treaty surrendering a large slice of territory, when Tsʽao Kuei suddenly seized 桓公 Huan Kung, the Duke of Chʽi, as he stood on the altar steps and held a dagger against his chest. None of the Duke’s retainers dared to move a muscle, and Tsʽao Kuei proceeded to demand full restitution, declaring that Lu was being unjustly treated because she was a smaller and weaker state. Huan Kung, in peril of his life, was obliged to consent, whereupon Tsʽao Kuei flung away his dagger and quietly resumed his place amid the terrified assemblage without having so much as changed colour. As was to be expected, the Duke wanted afterwards to repudiate the bargain, but his wise old counsellor 管仲 Kuan Chung pointed out to him the impolicy of breaking his word, and the upshot was that this bold stroke regained for Lu the whole of what she had lost in three pitched battles. (For another anecdote of Tsʽao Kuei see VII, note 385; and for the biographies of these three bravos, Tsʽao, Chuan and Ching, see Shih Chi, ch. 86.)

  617. 率然 means “suddenly” or “rapidly,” and the snake in question was doubtless so called owing to the rapidity of its movements. Through this passage, the term has now come to be used in the sense of “military manoeuvres.” The 常山 have apparently not been identified.

  618. Another reading in the Yü Lan for is “belly.”

  619. That is, as Mei Yao-chʽên says, 可使兵首尾率然相應如一體乎 “Is it possible to make the front and rear of an army each swiftly responsive to attack on the other, just as though they were parts of a single living body?”

  620. Cf. chapter VI, “Though according to my estimate⁠ ⁠…”

  621. The meaning is: If two enemies will help each other in a time of common peril, how much more should two parts of the same army, bound together as they are by every tie of interest and fellow-feeling. Yet it is notorious that many a campaign has been ruined through lack of cooperation, especially in the case of allied armies.

  622. is said here to be equivalent to .

  623. These quaint devices to prevent one’s army from running away recall the Athenian hero Sôphanes, who carried an anchor with him at the battle of Plataea, by means of which he fastened himself firmly to one spot. (See Herodotus, IX 74.) It is not enough, says Sun Tzǔ, to render flight impossible by such mechanical means. You will not succeed unless your man have tenacity and unity of purpose, and, above all, a spirit of sympathetic cooperation. This is the lesson which can be learned from the shuai-jan.

  624. Literally, “level the courage [of all] as though [it were that of] one.” If the ideal army is to form a single organic whole, then it follows that the resolution and spirit of its component parts must be of the same quality, or at any rate must not fall below a certain standard. Wellington’s seemingly ungrateful description of his army at Waterloo as “the worst he had ever commanded” meant no more than that it was deficient in this important particular⁠—unity of spirit and courage. Had he not foreseen the Belgian defections and carefully kept those troops in the background, he would almost certainly have lost the day.

  625. This is rather a hard sentence on the first reading, but the key to it will be found, firstly, in the pause after , and next, in the meaning of itself. The best equivalent for this that I can think of is the German zur Geltung kommen. Mei Yao-chʽên’s paraphrase is: 兵無强弱皆得用者是困地之勢也 “The way to eliminate the differences of strong and weak and to make both serviceable is to utilise accidental features of the ground.” Less reliable troops, if posted in strong positions, will hold out as long as better troops on more exposed terrain. The advantage of position neutralises the inferiority in stamina and courage. Col. Henderson says: “With all respect to the text books, and to ordinary tactical teaching, I am inclined to think that the study of ground is often overlooked, and that by no means sufficient importance is attached to the selection of positions⁠ ⁠… and to the immense advantages that are to be derived, whether you are defending or attacking, from the proper utilisation of natural features.”787

  626. Tu Mu says: 喩易也 “The simile has reference to the ease with which he does it.” 不得已 means that he makes it impossible for his troops to do otherwise than obey. Chang Yü quotes a jingle, to be found in Wu Tzǔ, ch. 4: 將之所揮, 莫不從移, 將之所指, 莫不前死.

  627. seems to combine the meanings “noiseless” and “imperturbable,” both of which attributes would of course conduce to secrecy. Tu Mu explains as 幽深難測 “deep and inscrutable,” and as 平正無偏 “fair and unbiased.” Mei Yao-chʽên alone among the commentators takes in the sense of 自治 “self-controlled.” and are causally connected with and respectively. This is not brought out at all in Capt. Calthrop’s rendering: “The general should be calm, inscrutable, just and prudent.” The last adjective, moreover, can in no sense be said to represent .

  628. Literally, “to deceive their eyes and ears”⁠— being here used as a verb in the sense of .

  629. Tsʽao Kung gives us one of his excellent apophthegms: 民可與樂成不可與慮始 “The troops must not be allowed to share your schemes in the beginning; they may only rejoice with you over their happy outcome.” “To mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy,” is one of the first principles in war, as has been frequently pointed out. But how about the other process⁠—the mystification of one’s own men? Those who may think that Sun Tzǔ is over-emphatic on this point would do well to read Col. Henderson’s remarks on Stonewall Jackson’s Valley campaign: “The infinite pains,” he says, “with which Jackson sought to conceal, and his thoughts, a commander less thorough would have pronounced useless”⁠—etc. etc.788 In the year 88 AD, as we read in ch. 47 of the Hou Han Shu, “Pan Chʽao took the field with 25,000 men from Khotan and other Central Asian states with the object of crushing Yarkand. The King of Kutcha replied by dispatching his chief commander to succour the place with an army drawn from the kingdoms of Wên-su, Ku-mo and Wei-tʽou, totalling 50,000 men. Pan Chʽao summoned his officers and also the King of Khotan to a council of war, and said: ‘Our forces are now outnumbered and unable to make head against the enemy. The best plan, then, is for us to separate and disperse, each in a different direction. The King of Khotan will march away by the easterly route, and I will then return myself towards the west. Let us wait until the evening drum has sounded and then start.’ Pan Chʽao now secretly released the prisoners whom he had taken alive, and the King of Kutcha was thus informed of his plans. Much elated by the news, the latter set off at once at the head of 10,000 horsemen to bar Pan Chʽao’s retreat in the west, while the King of Wên-su rode eastwards with 8000 horse in order to intercept the King of Khotan. As soon as Pan Chʽao knew that the two chieftains had gone, he called his divisions together, got them well in hand, and at cockcrow hurled them against the army of Yarkand, as it lay encamped. The barbarians, panic-stricken, fled in confusion, and were closely pursued by Pan Chʽao. Over 5000 heads were brought back as trophies, besides immense spoils in the shape of horses and cattle and valuables of every description. Yarkand then capitulating, Kutcha and the other kingdoms drew off their respective forces. From that time forward, Pan Chʽao’s prestige completely overawed the countries of the west.” In this case, we see that the Chinese general not only kept his own officers in ignorance of his real plans, but actually took the bold step of dividing his army in order to deceive the enemy.

  630. Wang Hsi thinks that this means, not using the same stratagem twice. He says: 已行之事已施之謀當革易之不可再之.

  631. Note that denotes the enemy, as opposed to the 士卒 of the previous paragraph. Capt. Calthrop, not perceiving this, joins the two paragraphs into one. Chang Yü quotes 太白山人 as saying: 兵貴詭道者非止詭敵也抑詭我士卒使由而不使知之也 “The axiom, that war is based on deception, does not apply only to deception of the enemy. You must deceive even your own soldiers. Make them follow you, but without letting them know why.”

  632. Wang Hsi paraphrases 易其居 as 處易者 “camp on easy ground,” and Chang Yü follows him, saying: 其居則去險而就易. But his is an utterly untenable view. For 迂其途, cf. note 349 on VII. Chia Lin, retaining his old interpretation of those words, is now obliged to explain 易其居 as “cause the enemy to shift his camp,” which is awkward in the extreme.

  633. I must candidly confess that I do not understand the syntax of 帥與之期, though the meaning is fairly plain. The difficulty has evidently been felt, for Tu Mu tells us that one text omits 期如. It is more likely, however, that a couple of characters have dropped out.

  634. 發其機, literally, “releases the spring” (see chapter V, “Energy may be likened⁠ ⁠…”), that is, takes some decisive step which makes it impossible for the army to return⁠—like 項羽 Hsiang Yü, who sunk his ships after crossing a river. Chʽên Hao, followed by Chia Lin, understands the words less well as 發其心機 “puts forth every artifice at his command.” But in this derived sense occurs nowhere else in Sun Tzǔ.

  635. Omitted in the Tʽu Shu.

  636. The Tʽu Shu inserts another after . Tu Mu says: 三軍但知進退之命不知攻取之端也 “The army is only cognisant of orders to advance or retreat; it is ignorant of the ulterior ends of attacking and conquering.”

  637. Sun Tzǔ means that after mobilisation there should be no delay in aiming a blow at the enemy’s heart. With 投之於險 cf. supra: 投之無所往 “Throw your soldiers⁠ ⁠…”. Note how he returns again and again to this point. Among the warring states of ancient China, desertion was no doubt a much more present fear and serious evil than it is in the armies of today.

  638. Chang Yü says: 九地之法不可拘泥 “One must not be hidebound in interpreting the rules for the nine varieties of ground.

  639. The use of 屈伸 “contraction and expansion” may be illustrated by the saying 屈以求伸, which almost exactly corresponds to the French il faut reculer pour mieux sauter.789 Capt. Calthrop, more suo, avoids a real translation and has: “the suiting of the means to the occasion.”

  640. Cf. supra, “The following are the principles⁠ ⁠…”

  641. Chang Yü’s paraphrase is 而用師者.

  642. This “ground” is cursorily mentioned in chapter VIII (“When in difficult country⁠ ⁠…”), but it does not figure among the Nine of this chapter or the Six 地形 in chap. X. One’s first impulse would be to translate it “distant ground” (絕域 is commonly used in the sense of “distant lands”), but this, if we can trust the commentators, is precisely what is not meant here. Mei Yao-chʽên says it is 進不及輕退不及散在二地之間也 “a position not far enough advanced to be called ‘facile,’ and not near enough to home to be called ‘dispersive,’ but something between the two.” That, of course, does not explain the name , which seems to imply that the general has severed his communications and temporarily cut himself off from his base. Thus, Wang Hsi says: “It is ground separated from home by an interjacent state, whose territory we have had to cross in order to reach it. Hence it is incumbent on us to settle our business there quickly.” He adds that this position is of rare occurrence, which is the reason why it is not included among the 九地. Capt. Calthrop gives but a poor rendering of this sentence: “To leave home and cross the borders is to be free from interference.”

  643. The Tʽu Shu reads for .

  644. From 四達 down to “When you have the enemy’s strongholds⁠ ⁠…”, we have some of the definitions of the early part of the chapter repeated in slightly different language. Capt. Calthrop omits these altogether.

  645. = 險固.

  646. This end, according to Tu Mu, is best attained by remaining on the defensive, and avoiding battle. Cf. supra, “On dispersive ground⁠ ⁠…”

  647. The Tʽung Tien has instead of . The present reading is supported by the 遺說 of Chêng Yu-hsien. As Tu Mu says, the object is to guard against two possible contingencies: 一者備其逃逸二者恐其敵至 “(1) the desertion of our own troops; (2) a sudden attack on the part of the enemy.” Cf. chapter VII: 其徐如林 “… your compactness that of the forest.” Mei Yao-chʽên says: 行則隊校相繼止則營壘聯屬 “On the march, the regiments should be in close touch; in an encampment, there should be continuity between the fortifications.” He seems to have forgotten, by the way, what Sun Tzǔ says above: 輕地則無止.

  648. This is Tsʽao Kung’s interpretation. Chang Yü adopts it, saying: 當疾進其後使首尾俱至 “We must quickly bring up our rear, so that head and tail may both reach the goal.” That is, they must not be allowed to straggle up a long way apart. Mei Yao-chʽên offers another equally plausible explanation: 敵未至其地我若在後則當疾趨以爭之 “Supposing the enemy has not yet reached the coveted position, and we are behind him, we should advance with all speed in order to dispute its possession.” would thus denote the enemy, being the preposition, and would retain its usual intransitive sense. Cf. chapter VII: 後人發先人至 “Thus, to take a long and circuitous route⁠ ⁠…” Chʽên Hao, on the other hand, assuming that the enemy has had time to select his own ground, quotes chapter VI (“Whoever is first in the field⁠ ⁠…”), where Sun Tzǔ warns us against coming exhausted to the attack. His own idea of the situation is rather vaguely expressed: 若地利在前先分精銳以據之彼若恃衆來爭我以大衆趨其後無不尅者 “If there is a favourable position lying in front of you, detach a picked body of troops to occupy it; then if the enemy, relying on their numbers, come up to make a fight for it, you may fall quickly on their rear with your main body, and victory will be assured.” It was thus, he adds, that Chao Shê beat the army of Chʽin. (See note 349) Li Chʽüan would read for , it is not easy to see why.

  649. As Wang Hsi says, 懼襲我也 “fearing a surprise attack.” The Tʽung Tien reads here 固其結 (see next sentence).

  650. The Tʽung Tien reads 謹其巿, which Tu Yu explains as “watching the market towns,” 變事之端 “the hotbeds of revolution.” Capt. Calthrop translates 固其結 by the same words as 合交 above (“On open ground⁠ ⁠…”): “cultivate intercourse.”

  651. The commentators take this as referring to forage and plunder, not, as one might expect, to an unbroken communication with a home base. One text, indeed, gives the reading 掠其食. Cf. supra, “On serious ground⁠ ⁠…” Capt. Calthrop’s “be careful of supplies” fails to render the force of .

  652. Capt. Calthrop’s “do not linger” cannot be called a translation, but only a paraphrase of the paraphrase offered by Tsʽao Kung: 疾過去也 “Pass away from it in all haste.”

  653. 意欲突圍示以守固 “To make it seem that I mean to defend the position, whereas my real intention is to burst suddenly through the enemy’s lines” (Mêng Shih); 使士卒必死戰也 “in order to make my soldiers fight with desperation” (Mei Yao-chʽên); 懼人有走心 “fearing lest my men be tempted to run away” (Wang Hsi). Tu Mu points out that this is the converse of chapter VII (“When you surround an army⁠ ⁠…”), where it is the enemy who is surrounded. In 532 AD, 高歡 Kao Huan, afterwards Emperor and canonised as 神武 Shên-wu, was surrounded by a great army under 爾朱兆 Êrh-chu Chao and others. His own force was comparatively small, consisting only of 2000 horse and something under 30,000 foot. The lines of investment had not been drawn very closely together, gaps being left at certain points. But Kao Huan, instead of trying to escape, actually made a shift to block all the remaining outlets himself by driving into them a number of oxen and donkeys roped together. As soon as his officers and men saw that there was nothing for it but to conquer or die, their spirits rose to an extraordinary pitch of exaltation, and they charged with such desperate ferocity that the opposing ranks broke and crumbled under their onslaught. (See Tu Mu’s commentary, and 北齊書 ch. 1, fol. 6.)

  654. Tu Yu says: 焚輜重窠糧食塞井夷竈示之無活必殊死戰也 “Burn your baggage and impedimenta, throw away your stores and provisions, choke up the wells, destroy your cooking-stoves, and make it plain to your men that they cannot survive, but must fight to the death.” Mei Yao-chʽên says epigrammatically: 必死可生 “The only chance of life lies in giving up all hope of it.” This concludes what Sun Tzǔ has to say about “grounds” and the “variations” corresponding to them. Reviewing the passages which bear on this important subject, we cannot fail to be struck by the desultory and unmethodical fashion in which it is treated. Sun Tzǔ begins abruptly in chapter VIII (“When in difficult country⁠ ⁠…”) to enumerate “variations” before touching on “grounds” at all, but only mentions five, namely nos. 7, 5, 8 and 9 of the subsequent list, and one that is not included in it. A few varieties of ground are dealt with in the earlier portion of chap. IX, and then chap. X sets forth six new grounds, with six variations of plan to match. None of these is mentioned again, though the first is hardly to be distinguished from ground no. 4 in the next chapter. At last, in chap. XI, we come to the Nine Grounds par excellence, immediately followed by the variations. This takes us down to “On hemmed-in ground, resort to stratagem.” Starting at “When you leave your own country behind⁠ ⁠…”, fresh definitions are provided for nos. 5, 6, 2, 8 and 9 (in the order given), as well as for the tenth ground noticed in chap VIII; and finally, the nine variations are enumerated once more from beginning to end, all, with the exception of 5, 6 and 7, being different from those previously given. Though it is impossible to account for the present state of Sun Tzǔ’s text, a few suggestive facts may be brought into prominence: (1) Chap. VIII, according to the title, should deal with nine variations, whereas only five appear. (2) It is an abnormally short chapter. (3) Chap. XI is entitled The Nine Grounds. Several of these are defined twice over, besides which there are two distinct lists of the corresponding variations. (4) The length of the chapter is disproportionate, being double that of any other except IX. I do not propose to draw inferences from these facts, beyond the general conclusion that Sun Tzǔ’s work cannot have come down to us in the shape in which it left his hands: chap. VIII is obviously defective and probably out of place, while XI seems to contain matter that has either been added by a later hand or ought to appear elsewhere.

  655. 過則從 is rendered by Capt. Calthrop: “to pursue the enemy if he retreat.” But cannot mean “to retreat.” Its primary sense is to pass over, hence to go too far, to exceed or to err. Here, however, the word has lost all implication of censure, and appears to mean “to pass the boundary line dividing safety from danger,” or, as Chang Yü puts it, 深陷于危難之地 “to be deeply involved in a perilous position.” The latter commentator alludes to the conduct of Pan Chʽao’s devoted followers in 73 AD. The story runs thus in the Hou Han Shu, ch. 47, fol.vo: “When Pan Chʽao arrived at 鄯善 Shan-shan, Kuang, the King of the country, received him at first with great politeness and respect; but shortly afterwards his behaviour underwent a sudden change, and he became remiss and negligent. Pan Chʽao spoke about this to the officers of his suite: ‘Have you not noticed,’ he said, ‘that Kuang’s polite intentions are on the wane? This must signify that envoys have come from the Northern barbarians, and that consequently he is in a state of indecision, not knowing with which side to throw in his lot. That surely is the reason. The truly wise man, we are told, can perceive things before they have come to pass; how much more, then, those that are already manifest!’ Thereupon he called one of the natives who had been assigned to his service, and set a trap for him, saying: ‘Where are those envoys from the Hsiung-nu who arrived some days ago?’ The man was so taken aback that between surprise and fear he presently blurted out the whole truth. Pan Chʽao, keeping his informant carefully under lock and key, then summoned a general gathering of his officers, thirty-six in all, and began drinking with them. When the wine had mounted into their heads a little, he tried to rouse their spirit still further by addressing them thus: ‘Gentlemen, here we are in the heart of an isolated region, anxious to achieve riches and honour by some great exploit. Now it happens that an ambassador from the Hsiung-nu arrived in the kingdom only a few days ago, and the result is that the respectful courtesy extended towards us by our royal host has disappeared. Should this envoy prevail upon him to seize our party and hand us over to the Hsiung-nu, our bones will become food for the wolves of the desert. What are we to do?’ With one accord, the officers replied: ‘Standing as we do in peril of our lives, we will follow our commander through life and death’ (今在危亡之地死生從司馬).” For the sequel of this adventure, see chap. XII, note 693.

  656. These three sentences are repeated from chapter VII⁠—in order to emphasise their importance, the commentators seem to think. I prefer to regard them as interpolated here in order to form an antecedent to the following words. With regard to local guides, Sun Tzǔ might have added that there is always the risk of going wrong, either through their treachery or some misunderstanding such as Livy records (XXII 13): Hannibal, we are told, ordered a guide to lead him into the neighbourhood of Casinum, where there was an important pass to be occupied; but his Carthaginian accent, unsuited to the pronunciation of Latin names, caused the guide to understand Casilinum instead of Casinum, and turning from his proper route, he took the army in that direction, the mistake not being discovered until they had almost arrived.

  657. Referring, I think, to what is contained in the following two paragraphs. Tsʽao Kung, thinking perhaps of the 五利 in chapter VIII (“So, the student of war⁠ ⁠…”), takes them to be 九地之利害 “the advantages and disadvantages attendant on the nine varieties of ground.” The Tʽu Shu reads 此五者.

  658. 霸王, “one who rules by force,” was a term specially used for those princes who established their hegemony over other feudal states. The famous 五霸 of the 7th century BC were (1) 齊桓公 Duke Huan of Chʽi (2) 晉文公 Duke Wên of Chin, (3) 宋襄公 Duke Hsiang of Sung, (4) 楚莊王 Prince Chuang of Chʽu, (5) 秦穆公 Duke Mu of Chʽin. Their reigns covered the period 685⁠–⁠591 BC.

  659. Here and in the next sentence, the Yü Lan inserts after .

  660. Mei Yao-chʽên constructs one of the chains of reasoning that are so much affected by the Chinese: “In attacking a powerful state, if you can divide her forces, you will have a superiority in strength; if you have a superiority in strength, you will overawe the enemy; if you overawe the enemy, the neighbouring states will be frightened; and if the neighbouring states are frightened, the enemy’s allies will be prevented from joining her.” The following gives a stronger meaning to 威加: 若大國一敗則小國離而不聚矣 “If the great state has once been defeated (before she has had time to summon her allies), then the lesser states will hold aloof and refrain from massing their forces.” Chʽên Hao and Chang Yü take the sentence in quite another way. The former says: “Powerful though a prince may be, if he attacks a large state, he will be unable to raise enough troops, and must rely to some extent on external aid; if he dispenses with this, and with overweening confidence in his own strength, simply tries to intimidate the enemy, he will surely be defeated.” Chang Yü puts his view thus: “If we recklessly attack a large state, our own people will be discontented and hang back. But if (as will then be the case) our display of military force is inferior by half to that of the enemy, the other chieftains will take fright and refuse to join us.” According to this interpretation, would refer, not to the 大國, but to the 霸王 himself.

  661. For the Yü Lan reads .

  662. 天下, as earlier (“Ground which forms the key⁠ ⁠…”), stands for 諸侯 “the feudal princes,” or the states ruled by them.

  663. For (read shên¹) in the meaning of , cf. note 416 on VIII. The commentators are unanimous on this point, and we must therefore beware of translating 信己之私 by “secretly self-confident” or the like. Capt. Calthrop (omitting 之私) has: “he has confidence in himself.”

  664. The train of thought appears to be this: Secure against a combination of his enemies. 能絕天下之交惟得伸己之私志威而無外交者 “he can afford to reject entangling alliances and simply pursue his own secret designs, his prestige enabling him to dispense with external friendships.” (Li Chʽüan.)

  665. This paragraph, though written many years before the Chʽin State became a serious menace, is not a bad summary of the policy by which the famous Six Chancellors gradually paved the way for her final triumph under Shih Huang Ti. Chang Yü, following up his previous note, thinks that Sun Tzǔ is condemning this attitude of cold-blooded selfishness and haughty isolation. He again refers to the warlike prince, thus making it appear that in the end he is bound to succumb.

  666. Wu Tzǔ (ch. 3) less wisely says: 進有重賞退有重刑 “Let advance be richly rewarded and retreat be heavily punished.”

  667. , literally, “hang” or “post up.”

  668. 杜姦媮 “In order to prevent treachery,” says Wang Hsi. The general meaning is made clear by Tsʽao Kung’s quotation from the Ssǔ-ma: 見敵作誓瞻攻作賞 “Give instructions only on sighting the enemy; give rewards only when you see deserving deeds.” 無政, however, presents some difficulty. Tsʽao Kung’s paraphrase, 軍法令不應預施懸也, I take to mean: “The final instructions you give to your army should not correspond with those that have been previously posted up.” Chang Yü simiplifies this into 政不預告 “your arrangements should not be divulged beforehand.” And Chia Lin says: 不守常法常政 “there should be no fixity in your rules and arrangements.” Not only is there danger in letting your plans be known, but war often necessitates the entire reversal of them at the last moment.

  669. , according to Tsʽao Kung, is here equal to . The exact meaning is brought out more clearly in the next paragraph.

  670. Cf. supra, “Thus the skilful general⁠ ⁠…”

  671. Literally, “do not tell them words;” i.e. do not give your reasons for any order. Lord Mansfield once told a junior colleague to “give no reasons” for his decisions, and the maxim is even more applicable to a general than to a judge. Capt. Calthrop translates this sentence with beautiful simplicity: “Orders should direct the soldiers.” That is all.

  672. Compare the paradoxical saying 亡者存之基死者生之本. These words of Sun Tzǔ were once quoted by Han Hsin in explanation of the tactics he employed in one of his most brilliant battles, already alluded to in note 258. In 204 BC, he was sent against the army of Chao, and halted ten miles from the mouth of the 井陘 Ching-hsing pass, where the enemy had mustered in full force. Here, at midnight, he detached a body of 2000 light cavalry, every man of which was furnished with a red flag. Their instructions were to make their way through narrow defiles and keep a secret watch on the enemy. “When the men of Chao see me in full flight,” Han Hsin said, “they will abandon their fortifications and give chase. This must be the sign for you to rush in, pluck down the Chao standards and set up the red banners of Han in their stead.” Turning then to his other officers, he remarked: “Our adversary holds a strong position, and is not likely to come out and attack us until he sees the standard and drums of the commander-in-chief, for fear I should turn back and escape through the mountains.” So saying, he first of all sent out a division consisting of 10,000 men, and ordered them to form in line of battle with their backs to the River Ti. Seeing this manoeuvre, the whole army of Chao broke into loud laughter. By this time it was broad daylight, and Han Hsin, displaying the generalissimo’s flag, marched out of the pass with drums beating, and was immediately engaged by the enemy. A great battle followed, lasting for some time; until at length Han Hsin and his colleague 張耳 Chang Ni, leaving drums and banner on the field, fled to the division on the river bank, where another fierce battle was raging. The enemy rushed out to pursue them and to secure the trophies, thus denuding their ramparts of men; but the two generals succeeded in joining the other army, which was fighting with the utmost desperation. The time had now come for the 2000 horsemen to play their part. As soon as they saw the men of Chao following up their advantage, they galloped behind the deserted walls, tore up the enemy’s flags and replaced them by those of Han. When the Chao army turned back from the pursuit, the sight of these red flags struck them with terror. Convinced that the Hans had got in and overpowered their king, they broke up in wild disorder, every effort of their leader to stay the panic being in vain. Then the Han army fell on them from both sides and completed the rout, killing a great number and capturing the rest, amongst whom was King Ya himself⁠ ⁠… After the battle, some of Han Hsin’s officers came to him and said: “In the Art of War we are told to have a hill or tumulus on the right rear, and a river or marsh on the left front. [This appears to be a blend of Sun Tzǔ and Tʽai Kung. See chapter IX, and note 445.] You, on the contrary, ordered us to draw up our troops with the river at our back. Under these conditions, how did you manage to gain the victory?” The general replied: “I fear you gentlemen have not studied the Art of War with sufficient care. Is it not written there: ‘Plunge your army into desperate straits and it will come off in safety; place it in deadly peril and it will survive’? Had I taken the usual course, I should never have been able to bring my colleagues round. What says the Military Classic ()?⁠—‘Swoop down on the marketplace and drive the men off to fight’ (敺巿人而戰之). [This passage does not occur in the present text of Sun Tzǔ.] If I had not placed my troops in a position where they were obliged to fight for their lives, but had allowed each man to follow his own discretion, there would have been a general débandade, and it would have been impossible to do anything with them.” The officers admitted the force of his argument, and said: “These are higher tactics than we should have been capable of.” (See Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 34, ff. 4, 5.)

  673. Danger has a bracing effect.

  674. Tsʽao Kung says: 佯愚也 “Feign stupidity”⁠—by an appearance of yielding and falling in with the enemy’s wishes. Chang Yü’s note makes the meaning clear: “If the enemy shows an inclination to advance, lure him on to do so; if he is anxious to retreat, delay of purpose that he may carry out his intention.” The object is to make him remiss and contemptuous before we deliver our attack.

  675. I understand the first four words to mean “accompanying the enemy in one direction.” Tsʽao Kung says: 幷兵向敵 “unite the soldiers and make for the enemy.” But such a violent displacement of characters is quite indefensible. Mei Yao-chʽên is the only commentator who seems to have grasped the meaning: 隨敵一向然後發伏出奇. The Tʽu Shu reads 并力.

  676. Literally, “after a thousand li.”

  677. Always a great point with the Chinese.

  678. The Tʽu Shu has 是謂巧於成事, and yet another reading, mentioned by Tsʽao Kung, is 巧攻成事. Capt. Calthrop omits this sentence, after having thus translated the two preceding: “Discover the enemy’s intentions by conforming to his movements. When these are discovered, then, with one stroke, the general may be killed, even though he be one hundred leagues distant.”

  679. 政舉 does not mean “when war is declared,” as Capt. Calthrop says, not yet exactly, as Tsʽao Kung paraphrases it, 謀定 “when your plans are fixed,” when you have mapped out your campaign. The phrase is not given in the Pʽei Wên Yün Fu. There being no causal connection discoverable between this and the preceding sentence, 是故 must perforce be left untranslated.

  680. is explained by Mei Yao-chʽên as 滅塞.

  681. The locus classicus for these tallies is Chou Li, XIV fol. 40 (Imperial edition): 門關用符節貨賄用璽節道路用旌節. The generic term thus appears to be , being the special kind used at city-gates and on the frontier. They were tablets of bamboo or wood, one half of which was issued as a permit or passport by the official in charge of a gate (司門 or 司關. Cf. the 封人 “border-warden” of Lun Yü III 24, who may have had similar duties.) When this half was returned to him, within a fixed period, he was authorised to open the gate and let the traveller through.

  682. Either to or from the enemy’s country.

  683. Show no weakness, and insist on your plans being ratified by the sovereign. 廊廟 indicates a hall or temple in the Palace. Cf. chapter I, “Now the general who wins⁠ ⁠…” It is not clear if other officers would be present. Hardly anything can be made of , the reading of the standard text, so I have adopted Tu Mu’s conjecture , which appears in the Tʽu Shu.

  684. Tsʽao Kung explains by , and Ho Shih by 責成. Another reading is , and Mei Yao-chʽên, adopting this, understands the whole sentence to mean: Take the strictest precautions to ensure secrecy in your deliberations. Capt. Calthrop glides rather too smoothly over the rough places. His translation is: “conduct the business of the government with vigilance.”

  685. This looks a very simple sentence, yet Tsʽao Kung is the only commentator who takes it as I have done. Mêng Shih, followed by Mei Yao-chʽên and Chang Yü, defines 開闔 as 間者 “spies,” and makes an active verb: “If spies come from the enemy, we must quickly let them in.” But I cannot find that the words 開闔 have this meaning anywhere else. On the other hand, they may be taken as two verbs, 或開或闔, expressing the enemy’s indecision whether to advance or retreat, that being the best moment to attack him. (Cf. Tao Tê Ching, chap. X: 天門開闔能為雌平; also Li Chi, 曲禮, I II 25.) It is not easy to choose between this and Tsʽao Kung’s explanation; the fact that 敵人開戶 occurs shortly afterwards, in the last paragraph of the chapter, might be adduced in support of either. must be understood in the sense of or . The only way to avoid this is to put 開闔 between commas and translate: “If we leave a door open, the enemy is sure to rush in.”

  686. Cf. supra, “If asked how to cope⁠ ⁠…”

  687. Capt. Calthrop hardly attempts to translate this difficult paragraph, but invents the following instead: “Discover what he most values, and plan to seize it.” Chʽên Hao’s explanation, however, is clear enough: 我若先奪便地而敵不至雖有其利亦奚用之是以欲取其愛惜之處必先微與敵人相期誤之使必至 “If I manage to seize a favourable position, but the enemy does not appear on the scene, the advantage thus obtained cannot be turned to any practical account. He who intends, therefore, to occupy a position of importance to the enemy, must begin by making an artful appointment, so to speak, with his antagonist, and cajole him into going there as well.” Mei Yao-chʽên explains that this “artful appointment” is to be made through the medium of the enemy’s own spies, who will carry back just the amount of information that we choose to give them. Then, having cunningly disclosed our intentions, 我後人發先人至 “we must manage, though starting after the enemy, to arrive before him” (chapter VII, “Thus, to take a long and circuitous route⁠ ⁠…”). We must start after him in order to ensure his marching thither; we must arrive before him in order to capture the place without trouble. Taken thus, the present passage lends some support to Mei Yao-chʽên’s interpretation of the earlier passage “On contentious ground, I would hurry up my rear.”

  688. stands for 繩墨 “a marking-line,” hence a rule of conduct. See Mencius VII 1 XLI 2. Tsʽao Kung explains it by the similar metaphor 規矩 “square and compasses.” The baldness of the sentiment rather inclines me to favour the reading adopted by Chia Lin in place of , which yields an exactly opposite sense, namely: “Discard hard and fast rules.” Chia Lin says: 惟勝是利不可守以繩墨而為 “Victory is the only thing that matters, and this cannot be achieved by adhering to conventional canons.” It is unfortunate that this variant rests on very slight authority, for the sense yielded is certainly much more satisfactory. Napoleon, as we know, according to the veterans of the old school whom he defeated, won his battles by violating every accepted canon of warfare.

  689. The last four words of the Chinese are omitted by Capt. Calthrop. Tu Mu says: 隨敵人之形若有可乘之勢則出而決戰 “Conform to the enemy’s tactics until a favourable opportunity offers; then come forth and engage in a battle that shall prove decisive.”

  690. As the hare is noted for its extreme timidity, the comparison hardly appears felicitous. But of course Sun Tzǔ was thinking only of its speed. The words have been taken to mean: You must flee from the enemy as quickly as an escaping hare; but this is rightly rejected by Tu Mu. Capt. Calthrop is wrong in translating “rabbit.” Rabbits are not indigenous to China, and were certainly not known there in the 6th century BC. The last sixteen characters evidently form a sort of four-line jingle. Chap. X, it may be remembered, closed in similar fashion.

  691. Rather more than half the chapter (up to “Hence those who use fire⁠ ⁠…”) is devoted to the subject of fire, after which the author branches off into other topics.

  692. So Tu Mu. Li Chʽüan says: 焚其營殺其士卒也 “Set fire to the camp, and kill the soldiers” (when they try to escape from the flames). Pan Chʽao, sent on a diplomatic mission to the King of Shan-shan (see XI, note 655), found himself placed in extreme peril by the unexpected arrival of an envoy from the Hsiung-nu (the mortal enemies of the Chinese). In consultation with his officers, he exclaimed: “ ‘Never venture, never win!790 The only course open to us now is to make an assault by fire on the barbarians under cover of night, when they will not be able to discern our numbers. Profiting by their panic, we shall exterminate them completely; this will cool the King’s courage and cover us with glory, besides ensuring the success of our mission.’ The officers all replied that it would be necessary to discuss the matter first with the Intendant (從事). Pan Chʽao then fell into a passion: ‘It is today,’ he cried, ‘that our fortunes must be decided! The Intendant is only a humdrum civilian, who on hearing of our project will certainly be afraid, and everything will be brought to light. An inglorious death is no worthy fate for valiant warriors.’ All then agreed to do as he wished. Accordingly, as soon as night came on, he and his little band quickly made their way to the barbarian camp. A strong gale was blowing at the time. Pan Chʽao ordered ten of the party to take drums and hide behind the enemy’s barracks, it being arranged that when they saw flames shoot up, they should begin drumming and yelling with all their might. The rest of his men, armed with bows and crossbows, he posted in ambuscade at the gate of the camp. He then set fire to the place from the windward side, whereupon a deafening noise of drums and shouting arose on the front and rear of the Hsiung-nu, who rushed out pell-mell in frantic disorder. Pan Chʽao slew three of them with his own hand, while his companions cut off the heads of the envoy and thirty of his suite. The remainder, more than a hundred in all, perished in the flames. On the following day, Pan Chʽao went back and informed 郭恂 Kuo Hsün [the Intendant] of what he had done. The latter was greatly alarmed and turned pale. But Pan Chʽao, divining his thoughts, said with uplifted hand: ‘Although you did not go with us last night, I should not think, Sir, of taking sole credit for our exploit.’ This satisfied Kuo Hsün, and Pan Chʽao, having sent for Kuang, King of Shan-shan, showed him the head of the barbarian envoy. The whole kingdom was seized with fear and trembling, which Pan Chʽao took steps to allay by issuing a public proclamation. Then, taking the king’s son as hostage, he returned to make his report to 竇固 Tou Ku.” (Hou Han Shu, ch. 47, ff. 1, 2.)

  693. Tu Mu says: 糧食薪芻 “Provisions, fuel and fodder.” In order to subdue the rebellious population of Kiangnan, 高潁 Kao Kêng recommended Wên Ti of the Sui dynasty to make periodical raids and burn their stores of grain, a policy which in the long run proved entirely successful. (隋書, ch. 41, fol. 2.)

  694. An example given is the destruction of 袁紹 Yüan Shao’s wagons and impedimenta by Tsʽao Tsʽao in 200 AD.

  695. Tu Mu says that the things contained in and are the same. He specifies weapons and other implements, bullion and clothing. Cf. chapter VII, “We may take it then that an army⁠ ⁠…”

  696. No fewer than four totally diverse explanations of this sentence are given by the commentators, not one of which is quite satisfactory. It is obvious, at any rate, that the ordinary meaning of (“regiment” or “company”) is here inadmissible. In spite of Tu Mu’s note, 焚其行伍因亂而擊之, I must regard “company burning” (Capt. Calthrop’s rendering) as nonsense pure and simple. We may also, I think, reject the very forced explanation given by Li Chʽüan, Mei Yao-chʽên and Chang Yü, of whom the last-named says: 焚其隊仗使兵無戰具 “burning a regiment’s weapons, so that the soldiers may have nothing to fight with.” That leaves only two solutions open: one, favoured by Chia Lin and Ho Shih, is to take in the somewhat uncommon sense of “a road,” = . The commentary on a passage in the 穆天子傳, quoted in Kʽang Hsi, defines (read sui) as 谷中險阻道 “a difficult road leading through a valley.” Here it would stand for the 糧道 “line of supplies,” which might be effectually interrupted if the country roundaout was laid waste with fire. Finally, the interpretation which I have adopted is that given by Tu Yu in the Tʽung Tien. He reads (which is not absolutely necessary, chui being sometimes used in the same sense), with the following note: 以火墮敵營中也火墜之法以鐵籠火着箭頭頸强弩射敵營中 “To drop fire into the enemy’s camp. The method by which this may be done is to set the tips of arrows alight by dipping them into a brazier, and then shoot them from powerful crossbows into the enemy’s lines.”

  697. Tsʽao Kung thinks that 姦人 “traitors in the enemy’s camp” are referred to. He thus takes as the efficient cause only. But Chʽên Hao is more likely to be right in saying: 須得其便不獨姦人 “We must have favourable circumstances in general, not merely traitors to help us.” Chia Lin says: 因風燥 “We must avail ourselves of wind and dry weather.”

  698. 煙火 is explained by Tsʽao Kung as 燒具 “appliances for making fire.” Tu Mu suggests 艾蒿荻葦薪芻膏油之屬 “dry vegetable matter, reeds, brushwood, straw, grease, oil, etc.” Here we have the material cause. Chang Yü says: 貯火之器燃火之物 “vessels for hoarding fire, stuff for lighting fires.”

  699. A fire must not be begun “recklessly” or 偶然 “at haphazard.”

  700. These are, respectively, the 7th, 14th, 27th, and 28th of the 二十八宮 Twenty-eight Stellar Mansions, corresponding roughly to Sagittarius, Pegasus, Crater and Corvus. The original text, followed by the Tʽu Shu, has in place of 宿; the present reading rests on the authority of the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan. Tu Mu says: 宿; the present reading rests on the authority of the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan. Tu Mu says: 宿者月之所宿也. For 箕壁, both Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan give the more precise location 戊箕東壁. Mei Yao-chʽên tells us that by is meant the tail of the Dragon; by , the eastern part of that constellation; by and , the tail of the Quail.

  701. 此四宿者 is elliptical for 月在此四宿之日. 蕭繹 Hsiao I (afterwards fourth Emperor of the Liang dynasty, AD 552⁠–⁠555) is quoted by Tu Yu as saying that the days 丙丁 of spring, 戊已 of summer, 壬癸 of autumn, and 甲乙 of winter bring fierce gales of wind and rain.

  702. I take as qualifying , not , and therefore think that Chang Yü is wrong in referring 五火 to the five methods of attack set forth at the beginning of the chapter. What follows has certainly nothing to do with these.

  703. The Yü Lan incorrectly reads for .

  704. The original text omits 而其. The prime object of attacking with fire is to throw the enemy into confusion. If this effect is not produced, it means that the enemy is ready to receive us. Hence the necessity for caution.

  705. Tsʽao Kung says: 見可而進知難而退 “If you see a possible way, advance; but if you find the difficulties too great, retire.”

  706. Tu Mu says that the previous paragraphs had reference to the fire breaking out (either accidentally, we may suppose, or by the agency of incendiaries) inside the enemy’s camp. “But,” he continues, 若敵居荒澤草穢或營柵可焚之地卽須及時發火不必更待內發作然後應之恐敵人自燒野草我起火無益 “if the enemy is settled in a waste place littered with quantities of grass, or if he has pitched his camp in a position which can be burnt out, we must carry our fire against him at any seasonable opportunity, and not wait on in hopes of an outbreak occurring within, for fear our opponents should themselves burn up the surrounding vegetation, and thus render our own attempts fruitless.” The famous 李陵 Li Ling once baffled the 單于 leader of the Hsiung-nu in this way. The latter, taking advantage of a favourable wind, tried to set fire to the Chinese general’s camp, but found that every scrap of combustible vegetation in the neighbourhood had already been burnt down. On the other hand, 波才 Po-tsʽai, a general of the 黃巾賊 Yellow Turban rebels, was badly defeated in 184 AD through his neglect of this simple precaution. “At the head of a large army he was beseiging 長社 Chʽang-shê, which was held by 皇甫嵩 Huang-fu Sung. The garrison was very small, and general feeling of nervousness pervaded the ranks; so Huang-fu Sung called his officers together and said: ‘In war, there are various indirect methods of attack, and numbers do not count for everything. [The commentator here quotes Sun Tzǔ, chapter V “In all fighting⁠ ⁠…”, “Indirect tactics, efficiently applied⁠ ⁠…”, and “In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack⁠ ⁠…”] Now the rebels have pitched their camp in the midst of thick grass (依草結營), which will easily burn when the wind blows. If we set fire to it at night, they will be thrown into a panic, and we can make a sortie and attack them on all sides at once, thus emulating the achievement of Tʽien Tan.’ [See note 475] That same evening, a strong breeze sprang up; so Huang-fu Sung instructed his soldiers to bind reels together into torches and mount guard on the city walls, after which he sent out a band of daring men, who stealthily made their way through the lines and started the fire with loud shouts and yells. Simultaneously, a glare of light shot up from the city walls, and Huang-fu Sung, sounding his drums, led a rapid charge, which threw the rebels into confusion and put them to headlong flight.” (Hou Han Shu, ch. 71,

  707. Chang Yü, following Tu Yu, says: 燒之必退退而逆擊之必死戰則不便也 “When you make a fire, the enemy will retreat away from it; if you oppose his retreat and attack him then, he will fight desperately, which will not conduce to your success.” A rather more obvious explanation is given by Tu Mu: “If the wind is in the east, begin burning to the east of the enemy, and follow up the attack yourself from that side. If you start the fire on the east side, and then attack from the west, you will suffer in the same way as your enemy.”

  708. Cf. Lao Tzǔ’s saying: 飄風不終朝 “A violent wind does not last the space of a morning.” (Tao Tê Ching, chap. 23.) Mei Yao-chʽên and Wang Hsi say: “A day breeze dies down at nightfall, and a night breeze at daybreak. This is what happens as a general rule.” The phenomenon observed may be correct enough, but how this sense is to be obtained is not apparent.

  709. Tu Mu’s commentary shows what has to be supplied in order to make sense out of 以數守之. He says: 須筭星𨇠之數守風起之日乃可發火 “We must make calculations as to the paths of the stars, and watch for the days on which wind will rise, before making attack with fire.” Chang Yü seems to take in the sense of : “We must not only know how to assail our opponents with fire, but also be on our guard against similar attacks from them.”

  710. I have not the least hesitation in rejecting the commentators’ explanation of as = 明白. Thus Chang Yü says: 灼然可以取勝 “… will clearly [i.e. obviously] be able to gain the victory.” This is not only clumsy in itself, but does not balance in the next clause. For “intelligent,” cf. infra (“Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler⁠ ⁠…”), and Lun Yü XII 6.

  711. Capt. Calthrop gives an extraordinary rendering of the paragraph: “… if the attack is to be assisted, the fire must be unquenchable. If water is to assist the attack, the flood must be overwhelming.”

  712. Tsʽao Kung’s note is: 但可以絕敵道分敵軍不可以奪敵畜積 “We can merely obstruct the enemy’s road or divide his army, but not sweep away all his accumulated stores.” Water can do useful service, but it lacks the terrible destructive power of fire. This is the reason, Chang Yü concludes, why the former is dismissed in a couple of sentences, whereas the attack by fire is discussed in detail. Wu Tzǔ (ch. 4) speaks thus of the two elements: 居軍下濕水無所通霖雨數至可灌而沉居軍荒澤草楚幽穢風飆數至可焚而滅 “If an army is encamped on low-lying marshy ground, from which the water cannot run off, and where the rainfall is heavy, it may be submerged by a flood. If an army is encamped in wild marsh thickly overgrown with weeds and brambles, and visited by frequent gales, it may be exterminated by fire.”

  713. This is one of the most perplexing passages in Sun Tzǔ. The difficulty lies mainly in 不修其功, of which two interpretations appear possible. Most of the commentators understand in the sense (not known to Kʽang Hsi) of “reward” or “promote,” and 其功 as referring to the merit of officers and men. Thus Tsʽao Kung says: 賞善不踰日 “Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.” And Tu Mu: “If you do not take opportunity to advance and reward the deserving, your subordinates will not carry out your commands, and disaster will ensue.” 費留 would then probably mean 留滯費耗 “stoppage of expenditure,” or as Chia Lin puts it, 惜費 “the grudging of expenditure.” For several reasons, however, and in spite of the formidable array of scholars on the other side, I prefer the interpretation suggested by Mei Yao-chʽên alone, whose words I will quote: 欲戰必勝攻必取者在因時乘便能作為功也作為功者修火攻水攻之類不可坐守其利也坐守其利者凶也 “Those who want to make sure of succeeding in their battles and assaults must seize the favourable moments when they come and not shrink on occasion from heroic measures: that is to say, they must resort to such means of attack as fire, water and the like. What they must not do, and what will prove fatal, is to sit still and simply hold on to the advantages they have got.” This retains the more usual meaning of , and also brings out a clear connection of thought with the previous part of the chapter. With regard to 費留, Wang Hsi paraphrases it as 費財老師 “expending treasure and tiring out [lit., ageing] the army.” of course is expenditure or waste in general, either of time, money or strength. But the soldier is less concerned with the saving of money than of time. For the metaphor expressed in “stagnation” I am indebted to Tsʽao Kung, who says: 若水之留不復還也. Capt. Calthrop gives a rendering which bears but little relation to the Chinese text: “unless victory or possession be obtained, the enemy quickly recovers, and misfortunes arise. The war drags on, and money is spent.”

  714. As Sun Tzǔ quotes this jingle in support of his assertion in the previous paragraph, we must suppose 修之 to stand for 修其功 or something analogous. The meaning seems to be that the ruler lays plans which the general must show resourcefulness in carrying out. It is now plainer than ever that cannot mean “to reward.” Nevertheless, Tu Mu quotes the following from the 三略, ch. 2: 霸者制士以權結士以信使士以賞信衰則士疏賞虧則士不用命 “The warlike prince controls his soldiers by his authority, knits them together by good faith, and by rewards makes them serviceable. If faith decays, there will be disruption; if rewards are deficient, commands will not be respected.”

  715. , the Yü Lan’s variant for , is adopted by Li Chʽüan and Tu Mu.

  716. Sun Tzǔ may at times appear to be overcautious, but he never goes so far in that direction as the remarkable passage in the Tao Tê Ching. ch. 69: 吾不敢為主而為客不敢進寸而退尺 “I dare not take the initiative, but prefer to act on the defensive; I dare not advance an inch, but prefer to retreat a foot.”

  717. Again compare Lao Tzǔ, ch. 68: 善戰者不怒. Chang Yü says that is a weaker word than , and is therefore applied to the general as opposed to the sovereign. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read for , and the latter for .

  718. This is repeated from chapter XI (“When it was to their advantage⁠ ⁠…”). Here I feel convinced that it is an interpolation, for it is evident that the next paragraph ought to follow immediately on the previous. For , the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have . Capt. Calthrop invents a sentence which he inserts before this one: “Do not make war unless victory may be gained thereby.” While he was about it, he might have credited Sun Tzǔ with something slightly less inane.

  719. According to Chang Yü, denotes joy outwardly manifested in the countenance, the inward sensation of happiness.

  720. The Wu State was destined to be a melancholy example of this saying. See note 325.

  721. , which usually means “to warn,” is here equal to . This is a good instance of how Chinese characters, which stand for ideas, refuse to be fettered by dictionary-made definitions. The Tʽu Shu reads 故曰, as above (“Hence the saying: The enlightened ruler⁠ ⁠…”).

  722. It is odd that 全軍 should not have the same meaning here as in chapter III (“In the practical art of war⁠ ⁠…”, q.v.). This has led me to consider whether it might not be possible to take the earlier passage thus: “to preserve your own army (country, regiment, etc.) intact is better than to destroy the enemy’s.” The two words do not appear in the Tʽung Tien or the Yü Lan. Capt. Calthrop misses the point by translating: “then is the state secure, and the army victorious in battle.”

  723. is really a vulgar form of , and does not appear in the Shuo Wên. In practice, however, it has gradually become a distinct character with special meanings of its own, and I have therefore followed my edition of the standard text in retaining this form throughout the chapter. In chapter VI (“In making tactical dispositions⁠ ⁠…”), on the other hand, the correct form will be found. The evolution of the meaning “spy” is worth considering for a moment, provided it be understood that this is very doubtful ground, and that any dogmatism is out of place. The Shuo Wên defines as (the old form of ) “a crack” or “chink,” and on the whole we may accept 徐鍇 Hsü Chʽieh’s analysis as not unduly fanciful: 夫門夜閉閉而見月光者有閒隟也 “At night, a door is shut; if, when it is shut, the light of the moon is visible, it must come through a chink.” From this it is an easy step to the meaning “space between,” or simply “between,” as for example in the phrase 往來閒諜 “to act as a secret spy between enemies.” Here is the word which means “spy;” but we may suppose that constant association so affected the original force of , that could at last be dropped altogether, leaving to stand alone with the same signification. Another possible theory is that the word may first have come to mean “to peep” (see 博雅, quoted in Kʽang Hsi), which would naturally be suggested by “crack” or “crevice,” and afterwards the man who peeps, or spy.

  724. Cf. II, “In the operations of war⁠ ⁠…” and “With this loss of substance⁠ ⁠…”.

  725. 怠於道路, which is omitted by the Yü Lan, appears at first sight to be explained by the words immediately following, so that the obvious translation would be “(enforced) idleness along the line of march.” (Cf. Tao Tê Ching, ch. 30: 師之所處荆棘生焉 “Where troops have been quartered, brambles and thorns spring up.”) The commentators, however, say that is here equivalent to ⁠—a meaning which is still retained in the phrase 倦怠. Tu Mu refers to those who are engaged in conveying provisoins to the army. But this can hardly be said to emerge clearly from Sun Tzǔ’s text. Chang Yü has the note: “We may be reminded of the saying: ‘On serious ground, gather in plunder’ [chapter XI]. Why then should carriage and transportation cause exhaustion on the highways?⁠—The answer is, that not victuals alone, but all sorts of munitions of war have to be conveyed to the army. Besides, the injunction to ‘forage on the enemy’ only means that when an army is deeply engaged in hostile territory, scarcity of food must be provided against. Hence, without being solely dependent on the enemy for corn, we must forage in order that there may be an uninterrupted flow of supplies. Then, again, there are places like salt deserts (磧鹵之地), where provisions being unobtainable, supplies from home cannot be dispensed with.”

  726. Mei Yao-chʽên says: 廢於耒耜 “Men will be lacking at the plough-tail.” The allusion is to 井田 the system of dividing land into nine parts, as shown in the character , each consisting of a or (about 15 acres), the plot in the centre being cultivated on behalf of the State by the tenants of the other eight. It was here also, so Tu Mu tells us, that their cottages were built and a well sunk, to be used by all in common. (See II, note 210.) These groups of eight peasant proprietors were called . In time of war, one of the families had to serve in the army, while the other seven contributed to its support (一家從軍七家奉之). Thus, by a levy of 100,000 men (reckoning one able-bodied soldier to each family) the husbandry of 700,000 families would be affected.

  727. “For spies” is of course the meaning, though it would spoil the effect of this curiously elaborate exordium if spies were actually mentioned at this point.

  728. Sun Tzǔ’s argument is certainly ingenious. He begins by adverting to the frightful misery and vast expenditure of blood and treasure which war always brings in its train. Now, unless you are kept informed of the enemy’s condition, and are ready to strike at the right moment, a war may drag on for years. The only way to get this information is to employ spies, and it is impossible to obtain trustworthy spies unless they are properly paid for their services. But it is surely false economy to grudge a comparatively trifling amount for this purpose, when every day that the war lasts eats up an incalculably greater sum. This grievous burden falls on the shoulders of the poor, and hence Sun Tzǔ concludes that to neglect the use of spies is nothing less than a crime against humanity.

  729. An inferior reading for is , thus explained by Mei Yao-chʽên: 非以仁佐國者也.

  730. This idea, that the true object of war is peace, has its root in the national temperament of the Chinese. Even so far back as 597 BC, these memorable words were uttered by Prince Chuang of the Chʽu State: 夫文止戈為武⁠ ⁠… 夫武禁暴戢兵保大定功安民和衆豐財者也 “The character for ‘prowess’ () is made up of ‘to stay’ and ‘a spear’ (cessation of hostilities). Military prowess is seen in the repression of cruelty, the calling in of weapons, the preservation of the appointment of Heaven, the firm establishment of merit, the bestowal of happiness on the people, putting harmony between the princes, the diffusion of wealth.” (Tso Chuan, 宣公 XIIad fin.)

  731. That is, knowledge of the enemy’s dispositions, and what he means to do.

  732. 以禱祀 “by prayers or sacrifices,” says Chang Yü. are the disembodied spirits of men, and supernatural beings or “gods.”

  733. Tu Mu’s note makes the meaning clear: , he says, is the same as reasoning by analogy; 不可以他事比類而求 “[knowledge of the enemy] cannot be gained by reasoning from other analogous cases.”

  734. Li Chʽüan says: 夫長短闊狹遠近小大卽可驗之於度數人之情偽度不能知也 “Quantities like length, breadth, distance and magnitude, are susceptible of exact mathematical determination; human actions cannot be so calculated.”

  735. Mei Yao-chʽên has rather an interesting note: 鬼神之情可以筮卜知形氣之物可以象類求天地之理可以度數驗唯敵之情必由間者而後知也 “Knowledge of the spirit-world is to be obtained by divination; information in natural science may be sought by inductive reasoning; the laws of the universe can be verified by mathematical calculation: but the dispositions of an enemy are ascertainable through spies and spies alone.”

  736. is explained by Tu Mu as 其情泄形露之道 “the way in which facts leak out and dispositions are revealed.”

  737. is the reading of the standard text, but the Tʽung Tien, Yü Lan and Tʽu Shu all have .

  738. Capt. Calthrop translates 神紀 “the Mysterious Thread,” but Mei Yao-chʽên’s paraphrase 神妙之綱紀 shows that what is meant is the control of a number of threads.

  739. “Cromwell, one of the greatest and most practical of all cavalry leaders, had officers styled ‘scout masters,’ whose business it was to collect all possible information regarding the enemy, through scouts and spies, etc., and much of his success in war traceable to the previous knowledge of the enemy’s moves thus gained.”791

  740. 鄉間 is the emended reading of Chia Lin and the Tʽu Shu for the unintelligible 因間, here and in the list of spies, of the standard text, which nevertheless reads 鄉間 in a later paragraph (“It is through the information⁠ ⁠…”).

  741. Tu Mu says: “In the enemy’s country, win people over by kind treatment, and use them as spies.”

  742. includes both civil and military officials. Tu Mu enumerates the following classes as likely to do good service in this respect: “Worthy men who have been degraded from office, criminals who have undergone punishment; also favourite concubines who are greedy for gold, men who are aggrieved at being in subordinate positions, or who have been passed over in the distribution of posts, others who are anxious that their side should be defeated in order that they may have a chance of displaying their ability and talents, fickle turncoats who always want to have a foot in each boat (飜覆變詐常持兩端之心者). Officials of these several kinds,” he continues, “should be secretly approached and bound to one’s interests by means of rich presents. In this way you will be able to find out the state of affairs in the enemy’s country, ascertain the plans that are being formed against you, and moreover disturb the harmony and create a breach between the sovereign and his ministers.” The necessity for extreme caution, however, in dealing with “inward spies,” appears from an historical incident related by Ho Shih: “羅尚 Lo Shang, Governor of 益州 I-chou, sent his general 隗伯 Wei Po to attach the rebel 李雄 Li Hsiung of Shu in his stronghold at Pʽi. After each side had experienced a number of victories and defeats, Li Hsiung had recourse to the services of a certain 朴泰 Pʽo-tʽai, a native of 武都 Wu-tu. He began by having him whipped until the blood came, and then sent him off to Lo Shang, whom he was to delude by offering to cooperate with him from inside the city, and to give a fire signal at the right moment for making a general assault. Lo Shang, confiding in these promises, marched out all his best troops, and placed Wei Po and others at their head with orders to attack at Pʽo-tʽai’s bidding. Meanwhile, Li Hsiung’s general, 李驤 Li Hsiang, had prepared an ambuscade on their line of march; and Pʽo-tʽai, having reared long scaling-ladders against the city walls, now lighted the beacon-fire. Wei Po’s men raced up on seeing the signal and began climbing the ladders as fast as they could, while othere were drawn up by ropes lowered from above. More than a hundred of Lo Shang’s soldiers entered the city in this way, every one of whom was forthwith beheaded. Li Hsiung then charged with all his forces, both inside and outside the city, and routed the enemy completely.” (This happened in 303 AD. I do not know where Ho Shih got the story from. It is not given in the biography of Li Hsiung or that of his father Li Tʽê, Chin Shu, ch. 120, 121.)

  743. By means of heavy bribes and liberal promises detaching them from the enemy’s service, and inducing them to carry back false information as well as to spy in turn on their own countrymen. Thus Tu Yu: 因厚賂重許反使為我間也. On the other hand, 蕭世諴 Hsiao Shih-hsien in defining the 反間 says that we pretend not to have detected him, but contrive to let him carry away a false impression of what is going on (敵使人來候我我佯不知而示以虛事). Several of the commentators accept this as an alternative definition; but that it is not what Sun Tzǔ meant is conclusively proved by his subsequent remarks about treating the converted spy generously (“The enemy’s spies⁠ ⁠…” sqq.). Ho Shih notes three occasions on which converted spies were used with conspicuous success: 1) by Tʽien Tan in his defence of Chi-mo (see supra, note 475); 2) by Chao Shê on his march to O-yü (see note 349); and by the wily 范雎 Fan Chü in 260 BC, when Lien Pʽo was conducting a defensive campaign against Chʽin. The King of Chao strongly disapproved of Lien Pʽo’s cautious and dilatory methods, which had been unable to avert a series of minor disasters, and therefore lent a ready ear to the reports of his spies, who had secretly gone over to the enemy and were already in Fan Chü’s pay. They said: “The only thing which causes Chʽin anxiety is lest 趙括 Chao Kua should be made general. Lien Pʽo they consider an easy opponent, who is sure to be vanquished in the long run.” Now this Chao Kua was a son of the famous Chao Shê. From his boyhood, he had been wholly engrossed in the study of war and military matters, until at last he came to believe that there was no commander in the whole Empire who could stand against him. His father was much disquieted by this overweening conceit, and the flippancy with which he spoke of such a serious thing as war, and solemnly declared that if ever Kua was appointed general, he would bring ruin on the armies of Chao. This was the man who, in spite of earnest protests from his own mother and the veteran statesman 藺相如 Lin Hsiang-ju, was now sent to succeed Lien Pʽo. Needless to say, he proved no match for the redoubtable Po Chʽi and the great military power of Chʽin. He fill into a trap by which his army was divided into two and his communications cut; and after a desperate resistance lasting 46 days, during which the famished soldiers devoured one another, he was himself killed by an arrow, and his whole force, amounting, it is said, to 400,000 men, ruthlessly put to the sword. (See 歷代紀事年表, ch. 19, ff. 48⁠–⁠50).

  744. is Li Chʽüan’s conjecture for , which is found in the Tʽung Tien and the Yü Lan. The Tʽu Shu, unsupported by any good authority, adds 間也 after . In that case, the doomed spies would be those of the enemy, to whom our own spies had conveyed false information. But this is unnecessarily complicated. Tu Yu gives the best exposition of the meaning: “We ostentatiously do things calculated to deceive our own spies, who must be led to believe that they have been unwittingly disclosed. Then, when spies are captured in the enemy’s lines, they will make an entirely false report, and the enemy will take measures accordingly, only to find that we do something quite different. The spies will thereupon be put to death.” Capt. Calthrop makes a hopeless muddle of the sentence. As an example of doomed spies, Ho Shih mentions the prisoners released by Pan Chʽao in his campaign against Yarkand. (See note 629) He also refers to 唐儉 Tʽang Chien, who in 630 AD was sent by Tʽai Tsung to lull the Turkish Khan 頡利 Chieh-li into fancied security, until Li Ching was able to deliver a crushing blow against him. Chang Yü says that the Turks revenged themselves by killing Tʽang Chien, but this is a mistake, for we read in both the Old and the New Tʽang History (ch. 58, fol. 2 and ch. 89, fol. 8 respectively) that he escaped and lived on until 656. 酈食其 Li I-chi792 played a somewhat similar part in 203 BC, when sent by the King of Han to open peaceful negotiations with Chʽi. He has certainly more claim to be described as a 死間; for the King of Chʽi, being subsequently attacked without warning by Han Hsin, and infuriated by what he considered the treachery of Li I-chi, ordered the unfortunate envoy to be boiled alive.

  745. This is the ordinary class of spies, properly so called, forming a regular part of the army. Tu Mu says: 生間者必取內明外愚形劣心壯趫健勁勇閑於鄙事能忍饑寒垢耻者為之 “Your surviving spy must be a man of keen intellect, though in outward appearance a fool; of shabby exterior, but with a will of iron. He must be active, robust, endowed with physical strength and courage; thoroughly accustomed to all sorts of dirty work, able to endure hunger and cold, and to put up with shame and ignominy.” Ho Shih tells the following story of 達奚武 Ta-hsi Wu of the Sui dynasty: “When he was governor of Eastern Chʽin, 神武 Shên-wu of Chʽi made a hostile movement upon 沙苑 Sha-yüan. The Emperor Tʽai Tsu [? Kao Tsu] sent Ta-hsi Wu to spy upon the enemy. He was accompanied by two other men. All three were on horseback and wore the enemy’s uniform. When it was dark, they dismounted a few hundred feet away from the enemy’s camp and stealthily crept up to listen, until they succeeded in catching the passwords used by the army. Then they got on their horses again and boldly passed through the camp under the guise of night-watchmen (警夜者); and more than once, happening to come across a soldier who was committing some breach of discipline, they actually stopped to give the culprit a sound cudgelling! Thus they managed to return with the fullest possible information about the enemy’s dispositions, and received warm commendation from the Emperor, who in consequence of their report was able to inflict a severe defeat on his adversary.” With the above classification it is interesting to compare the remarks of Frederick the Great:793Es giebt vielerley Sorten von Spions: 1. Geringe Leute, welche sich von diesem Handwerk meliren. 2. Doppelte Spions. 3. Spions von Consequenz, und endlich 4. Diejenigen, welche man zu diesem unglücklichen Hankwerk zwinget.” This of course is a bad cross-division. The first class (Bürgersleute, Bauern, Priesters, etc.) corresponds roughly to Sun Tzǔ’s “local spies,” and the third to “inward spies.” Of Doppelte Spions it is broadly stated that they are employed “um dem Feinde falsche Nachrichten aufzubinden.” Thus they would include both converted and doomed spies. Frederick’s last class of spies does not appear in Sun Tzǔ’s list, perhaps because the risk in using them is too great.

  746. The original text and the Tʽu Shu have in place of the first . Tu Mu and Mei Yao-chʽên point out that the spy is privileged to enter even the general’s private sleeping-tent. Capt. Calthrop has an inaccurate translation: “In connection with the armies, spies should be treated with the greatest kindness.”

  747. Frederick concludes his chapter on spies with the words: “Zu allem diesem füge ich noch hinzu, dass man in Bezahlung der Spions freygebig, ja verschwenderisch seyn muss. Ein Mench, der um eures Dienstes halber den Strick waget, verdienet dafür belohnet zu werden.

  748. Tu Mu gives a graphic touch: 出口入耳也, that is to say, all communications with spies should be carried on “mouth-to-ear.” Capt. Calthrop has: “All matters relating to spies are secret,” which is distinctly feeble. An inferior reading for is . The following remarks on spies may be quoted from Turenne, who made perhaps larger use of them than any previous commander: “Spies are attached to those who give them most, he who pays them ill is never served. They should never be known to anybody; not should they know one another. When they propose anything very material, secure their persons, or have in your possession their wives and children as hostages for their fidelity. Never communicate anything to them but what it is absolutely necessary that they should know.”794

  749. This is the nuance of Tu Yu’s paraphrase 不能得間人之用.

  750. Mei Yao-chʽên says: 知其情偽辨其邪正則能用 “In order to use them, one must know fact from falsehood, and be able to discriminate between honesty and double-dealing.” Wang Hsi takes and separately, defining the former as 通而先識 “intuitive perception” and the latter as 明於事 “practical intelligence.” Tu Mu strangely refers these attributes to the spies themselves: 先量間者之性誠實多智然後可用之 “Before using spies we must assure ourselves as to their integrity of character and the extent of their experience and skill.” But he continues: 厚貌深情險於山川非聖人莫能知 “A brazen face and a crafty disposition are more dangerous than mountains or rivers; it takes a man of genius to penetrate such.” So that we are left in some doubt as to his real opinion on the passage.

  751. Chang Yü says that means “not grudging them honours and pay;” , “showing no distrust of their honesty.” “When you have attracted them by substantial offers, you must treat them with absolute sincerity; then they will work for you with all their might.”

  752. Mei Yao-chʽên says: “Be on your guard against the possibility of spies going over to the service of the enemy.” The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan read for .

  753. Cf. chapter VI: 微乎微乎 “O divine art⁠ ⁠…” Capt. Calthrop translates: “Wonderful indeed is the power of spies.”

  754. The Chinese here is so concise and elliptical that some expansion is necessary for the proper understanding of it. 間事 denotes important information about the enemy obtained from a surviving spy. The subject of 未發, however, is not this information itself, but the secret strategem built up on the strength of it. 聞者 means “is heard”⁠—by anybody else. Thus, word for word, we get: “If spy matters are heard before [our plans] are carried out,” etc. Capt. Calthrop, in translating 間與所告者 “the spy who told the matter, and the man who repeated the same,” may appeal to the authority of the commentators; but he surely misses the main point of Sun Tzǔ’s injunction. For, whereas you kill the spy himself 惡其泄 “as a punishment for letting out the secret,” the object of killing the other man is only, as Chʽên Hao puts it, 以滅口 “to stop his mouth” and prevent the news leaking any further. If it had already been repeated to others, this object would not be gained. Either way, Sun Tzǔ lays himself open to the charge of inhumanity, though Tu Mu tries to defend him by saying that the man deserves to be put to death, for the spy would certainly not have told the secret unless the other had been at pains to worm it out of him. The Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan have the reading⁠ ⁠… 先聞其間者與, etc., which, while not affecting the sense, strikes me as being better than that of the standard text. The Tʽu Shu has⁠ ⁠… 聞與所告者, which I suppose would mean: “the man who heard the secret and the man who told it to him.”

  755. 左右 is a comprehensive term for those who wait on others, servants and retainers generally. Capt. Calthrop is hardly happy in rendering it “right-hand men.”

  756. 謁者, literally “visitors,” is equivalent, as Tu Yu says, to 主告事者 “those whose duty it is to keep the general supplied with information,” which naturally necessitates frequent interviews with him. Chang Yü goes too far afield for an explanation in saying that they are 典賓客之將 “the leaders of mercenary troops.”

  757. 閽吏 and 守舍之人.

  758. 守將, according to Chang Yü, is simply 守官仼職之將 “a general on active service.” Capt. Calthrop is wrong, I think, in making 守將 directly dependent on 姓名 (… “the names of the general in charge,” etc.).

  759. As the first step, no doubt, towards finding out if any of these important functionaries can be won over by bribery. Capt. Calthrop blunders badly with: “Then set the spies to watch them.”

  760. 必索 is omitted by the Tʽung Tien and Yü Lan. Its recurrence is certainly suspicious, though the sense may seem to gain by it. The Tʽu Shu has this variation:⁠ ⁠… 敵間之來間吾者, etc.

  761. is probably more than merely 居止 or 稽留 “detain.” Cf. infra (“The end and aim of spying⁠ ⁠…”), where Sun Tzǔ insists that these converted spies shall be treated well. Chang Yü’s paraphrase is 館舍.

  762. Tu Yu expands 因是而知之 into 因反敵間而知敵情 “through conversion of the enemy’s spies we learn the enemy’s condition.” And Chang Yü says: 因是反間知彼鄉人之貪利者官人之有𨻶者誘而使之 “We must tempt the converted spy into our service, because it is he that knows which of the local inhabitants are greedy of gain, and which of the officials are open to corruption.” In the Tʽung Tien, has been altered to , doubtless for the sake of uniformity with an earlier paragraph (“Having local spies⁠ ⁠…”).

  763. “Because the converted spy knows how the enemy can best be deceived” (Chang Yü). The Tʽung Tien text, followed by the Yü Lan, has here the obviously interpolated sentence 因是可得而攻也.

  764. Capt. Calthrop omits this sentence.

  765. I have ventured to differ in this place from those commentators⁠—Tu Yu and Chang Yü⁠—who understand as 人主, and make 五間之事 the antecedent of (the others ignoring the point altogether). It is plausible enough that Sun Tzǔ should require the ruler to be familiar with the methods of spying (though one would rather expect “general” in place of ). But this involves taking 知之 here in quite a different way from the 知之 immediately following, as also from those in the previous sentences. there refers vaguely to the enemy or the enemy’s condition, and in order to retain the same meaning here, I make a verb, governed by 五間之事. Cf. chapter XI (“Rapidity is the essence of war⁠ ⁠…”), where is used in exactly the same manner. The sole objection that I can see in the way of this interpretation is the fact that the 死間, or fourth variety of spy, does not add to our knowledge of the enemy, but only misinforms the enemy about us. This would be, however, but a trivial oversight on Sun Tzǔ’s part, inasmuch as the “doomed spy” is in the strictest sense not to be reckoned as a spy at all. Capt. Calthrop, it is hardly necessary to remark, slurs over the whole difficulty.

  766. As explained in the preceding three paragraphs. He not only brings information himself, but makes it possible to use the other kinds of spy to advantage.

  767. Sun Tzǔ means the Shang dynasty, founded in 1766 BC. Its name was changed to Yin by 盤庚 in 1401.

  768. Better known as 伊尹 I Yin, the famous general and statesman who took part in Chʽêng Tʽang’s campaign against 桀癸 Chieh Kuei.

  769. 呂尚 Lü Shang, whose “style” was 子牙, rose to high office under the tyrant 紂辛 Chou Hsin, whom he afterwards helped to overthrow. Popularly known as 太公, a title bestowed on him by Wên Wang, he is said to have composed a treatise on war, erroneously identified with the 六韜.

  770. There is less precision in the Chinese than I have thought it well to introduce into my translation, and the commentaries on the passage are by no means explicit. But, having regard to the context, we can hardly doubt that Sun Tzǔ is holding up I Chih and Lü Ya as illustrious examples of the converted spy, or something closely analogous. His suggestion is, that the Hsia and Yin dynasties were upset owing to the intimate knowledge of their weaknesses and shortcomings which these former ministers were able to impart to the other side. Mei Yao-chʽên appears to resent any such aspersion on these historic names: “I Yin and Lü Yan,” he says, “were not rebels against the Government (非叛於國也). Hsia could not employ the former, hence Yin employed him. Yin could not emply the latter, hence Chou employed him. Their great achievements were all for the good of the people.” Ho Shih is also indignant: 伊呂聖人之耦豈為人間哉今孫子引之者言五間之用須上智之人如伊呂之才智者可以用間蓋重之之辭耳 “How should two divinely inspired men such as I and have acted as common spies? Sun Tzǔ’s mention of them simply means that the proper use of the five classes of spies is a matter which requires men of the highest mental calibre like I and , whose wisdom and capacity qualified them for the task. The above words only emphasise this point.” Ho Shih believes then that the two heroes are mentioned on account of their supposed skill in the use of spies. But this is very weak, as it leaves totally unexplained the significant words 在夏 and 在殷. Capt. Calthrop speaks, rather strangely, of “the province of Yin⁠ ⁠… the country of Hsia⁠ ⁠… the State of Chu⁠ ⁠… the people of Shang.”

  771. Chʽên Hao compares an earlier paragraph: 非聖智不能用間 “Spies cannot be usefully employed⁠ ⁠…” He points out that 湯武之聖伊呂宜用 “the godlike wisdom of Chʽêng Tʽang and Wu Wang led them to employ I Yin and Lü Shang.” The Tʽu Shu omits .

  772. Tu Mu closes with a note of warning: 夫水所以能濟舟亦有因水而覆沒者間所以能成功亦有憑間而傾敗者 “Just as water, which carries a boat from bank to bank, may also be the means of sinking it, so reliance on spies, while productive of great results, is ofttimes the cause of utter destruction.”

  773. The antecedent to must be either 間者 or 用間者 understood from the whole sentence. Chia Lin says that an army without spies is like a man without ears or eyes.

  774. Words on Wellington, by Sir W. Fraser.

  775. Forty-One Years in India, chap. 46.

  776. See Col. Henderson’s biography of Stonewall Jackson, 1902 ed., vol. II, p. 490.

  777. See Col. Henderson’s biography of Stonewall Jackson, 1902 ed., vol. I, p. 426.

  778. For a number of maxims on this head, see Marshal Turenne (Longmans, 1907), p. 29.

  779. M. Chavannes writes in the Tʽoung Pao, 1906, p. 210: “Le général Pan Tchʽao n’a jamais porté les armes chinoises jusque sur les bords de la mer Caspienne.” I hasten to correct my statement on this authority.

  780. Marshal Turenne, p. 50.

  781. Aids to Scouting, p. 26.

  782. See Pensées de Napoléon Ier, no. 47.

  783. The Science of War, chap. 2.

  784. Aids to Scouting, p. XII.

  785. Maximes de Guerre, no. 72.

  786. Giles’ Biographical Dictionary, no. 399.

  787. The Science of War, p. 333.

  788. Stonewall Jackson, vol. I, p. 421.

  789. See Giles’ Dictionary, no. 9817.

  790. 不入虎冗不得虎子 “Unless you enter the tiger’s lair, you cannot get hold of the tiger’s cubs.”

  791. Aids to Scouting, p. 2.

  792. Chʽien Han Shu, ch. 43, fol. 1. 顏師古 Yen Shih-ku in loc. says: 食音異其音基.

  793. Unterricht des Königs von Preussen an die Generale seiner Armeen, cap. 12 (edition of 1794).

  794. Marshal Turenne, p. 311.


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