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must be accepted as the closes approximation we are ever likely to

get to Sun Tzu'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 PEN, forming part of a well-

printed set of 23 early philosophical works in 83 PEN. [38] It opens

with a preface by Sun Hsing-yen (largely quoted in this introduction),

vindicating the traditional view of Sun Tzu's life and performances,

and summing up in remarkably concise fashion the evidence in its

favor. This is followed by Tsào Kung's preface to his edition, and the

biography of Sun Tzu from the SHIH CHI, both translated above.

Then come, firstly, Cheng Yu-hsien's I SHUO, [39] with author's

preface, and next, a short miscellany of historical and bibliographical

information entitled SUN TZU HSU LU, compiled by Pi I-hsun. 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 Tzu can boast an exceptionally long distinguished roll of

commentators, which would do honor to any classic. 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.

1. TSÀO TSÀO or Tsào Kung, afterwards known as Wei Wu Ti

[A.D. 155-220]. There is hardly any room for doubt that the earliest

commentary on Sun Tzu actually came from the pen of this

extraordinary man, whose biography in the SAN KUO CHIH 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 "Talk of Tsào Tsào, and Tsào Tsào

will appear." Ou-yang Hsiu says of him that he was a great captain

who "measured his strength against Tung Cho, Lu Pu and the two

Yuan, 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." Tsào Kung's notes on Sun

Tzu, 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 LITTERATEUR. Sometimes, indeed,

owing to extreme compression, they are scarcely intelligible and

stand no less in need of a commentary than the text itself. [40]

2. MENG 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 Tìen-

pao's edition places him after Chia Lin,and Chào Kung- wu also

assigns him to the Tàng dynasty, [41] but this is a mistake. In Sun

Hsing-yen's preface, he appears as Meng Shih of the Liang dynasty

[502-557]. Others would identify him with Meng Kàng of the 3rd

century. He is named in one work as the last of the "Five

Commentators," the others being Wei Wu Ti, Tu Mu, Chèn Hao and

Chia Lin.

3. LI CHÙAN of the 8th century was a well-known writer on military

tactics. One of his works has been in constant use down to the

present day. The TÙNG CHIH mentions "Lives of famous generals

from the Chou to the Tàng dynasty" as written by him. [42] According

to Chào Kung-wu and the TÌEN-I-KO catalogue, he followed a

variant of the text of Sun Tzu 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. TU YU (died 812) did not publish a separate commentary on Sun

Tzu, his notes being taken from the TÙNG TIEN, the encyclopedic

treatise on the Constitution which was his life- work. They are largely

repetitions of Tsào Kung and Meng Shih, besides which it is believed

that he drew on the ancient commentaries of Wang Ling and others.

Owing to the peculiar arrangement of TÙNG 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 Tsào 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 Tìen-

pao, being wrongly placed after his grandson Tu Mu.

5. TU MU (803-852) is perhaps the best known as a poet — a bright

star even in the glorious galaxy of the Tàng period. We learn from

Chào 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 CHÙN CHÌU and CHAN KUO

eras. His notes, therefore, are well worth attention. They are very

copious, and replete with historical parallels. The gist of Sun Tzu'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." He further declared that all the military triumphs and

disasters of the thousand years which had elapsed since Sun Tzu's

death would, upon examination, be found to uphold and corroborate,

in every particular, the maxims contained in his book. Tu Mu's

somewhat spiteful charge against Tsào Kung has already been

considered elsewhere.

6. CHÈN HAO appears to have been a contemporary of Tu Mu.

Chào Kung-wu says that he was impelled to write a new

commentary on Sun Tzu because Tsào Kung's on the one hand was

too obscure and subtle, and that of Tu Mu on the other too long-

winded and diffuse. Ou-yang Hsiu, writing in the middle of the 11th

century, calls Tsào Kung, Tu Mu and Chèn Hao the three chief

commentators on Sun Tzu, and observes that Chèn Hao is

continually attacking Tu Mu's shortcomings. His commentary, though

not lacking in merit, must rank below those of his predecessors.

7. CHIA LIN is known to have lived under the Tàng dynasty, for his

commentary on Sun Tzu is mentioned in the Tàng Shu and was

afterwards republished by Chi Hsieh of the same dynasty together

with those of Meng Shih and Tu Yu. It is of somewhat scanty texture,

and in point of quality, too, perhaps the least valuable of the eleven.

8. MEI YAO-CHÈN (1002-1060), commonly known by his "style" as

Mei Sheng-yu, 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 Tzu, 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 Sheng-yu has not fallen into this mistake. In

attempting to provide a critical commentary for Sun Tzu'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, [43] nor with the nine punitive

measures prescribed to the Minister of War. [44] 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 Sheng-yu

has brushed aside all the obstinate prejudices of these critics, and

has tried to bring out the true meaning of Sun Tzu 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 Sheng-yu.

Making some allowance for the exuberance of friendship, I am

inclined to endorse this favorable judgment, and would certainly place

him above Chèn Hao in order of merit.

9. WANG HSI, also of the Sung dynasty, is decidedly original in some

of his interpretations, but much less judicious than Mei Yao-chèn,

and on the whole not a very trustworthy guide. He is fond of

comparing his own commentary with that of Tsào Kung, but the

comparison is not often flattering to him. We learn from Chào Kung-

wu that Wang Hsi revised the ancient text of Sun Tzu, filling up

lacunae and correcting mistakes. [45]

10. HO YEN-HSI of the Sung dynasty. The personal name of this

commentator is given as above by Cheng Chìao in the TUNG CHIH,

written about the middle of the twelfth century, but he appears simply

as Ho Shih in the YU HAI, and Ma Tuan-lin quotes Chào Kung-wu as

saying that his personal name is unknown. There seems to be no

reason to doubt Cheng Chìao's statement, otherwise I should have

been inclined to hazard a guess and identify him with one Ho Chù-

fei, the author of a short treatise on war, who lived in the latter part of

the 11th century. Ho Shih's commentary, in the words of the TÌEN-I-

KO catalogue, "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. CHANG YU. The list closes with a commentator of no great

originality perhaps, but gifted with admirable powers of lucid

exposition. His commentator is based on that of Tsào Kung, whose

terse sentences he contrives to expand and develop in masterly

fashion. Without Chang Yu, it is safe to say that much of Tsào

Kung's commentary would have remained cloaked in its pristine

obscurity and therefore valueless. His work is not mentioned in the

Sung history, the TÙNG KÀO, or the YU HAI, but it finds a niche in

the TÙNG CHIH, which also names him as the author of the "Lives

of Famous Generals." [46] It is rather remarkable that the last-named

four should all have flourished within so short a space of time. Chào

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] Yuan-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 Tzu in our dynasty

belong mainly to that period. [47]

Besides these eleven commentators, there are several others whose

work has not come down to us. The SUI SHU mentions four, namely

Wang Ling (often quoted by Tu Yu as Wang Tzu); Chang Tzu- shang;

Chia Hsu of Wei; [48] and Shen Yu of Wu. The TÀNG SHU adds

Sun Hao, and the TÙNG CHIH Hsiao Chi, while the TÙ SHU

mentions a Ming commentator, Huang Jun-yu. It is possible that

some of these may have been merely collectors and editors of other

commentaries, like Chi Tìen-pao and Chi Hsieh, mentioned above.

Appreciations of Sun Tzu ————————————

Sun Tzu 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 Han

Hsin (d. 196 B.C.), [49] Feng I (d. 34 A.D.), [50] Lu Meng (d. 219),

[51] and Yo Fei (1103-1141). [52] The opinion of Tsào Kung, who

disputes with Han Hsin the highest place in Chinese military annals,

has already been recorded. [53] Still more remarkable, in one way, is

the testimony of purely literary men, such as Su Hsun (the father of

Su Tung-pò), who wrote several essays on military topics, all of

which owe their chief inspiration to Sun Tzu. The following short

passage by him is preserved in the YU HAI: [54] —

Sun Wu's saying, that in war one cannot make certain of conquering,

[55] is very different indeed from what other books tell us. [56] Wu

Chì 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 Chì'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 Tzu's work, where the style is terse, but the

meaning fully brought out.

The following is an extract from the "Impartial Judgments in the

Garden of Literature" by Cheng Hou: —

Sun Tzu'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 YU, the I CHING and the great Commentary, [57] as well as the

writings of Mencius, Hsun Kùang and Yang Chu, all fall below the

level of Sun Tzu.

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."

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 Chì stands out conspicuous in the period when Chìn was

entering upon her final struggle with the remaining independent

states. The stormy years which followed the break-up of the Chìn

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 Tsào Tsào dominates the scene. And in the

establishment of the Tàng dynasty,one of the mightiest tasks

achieved by man, the superhuman energy of Li Shih-min (afterwards

the Emperor Tài 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 Tzu 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 Ssu-ma Chìen, 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. [58]

The next piece is taken from Tu Mu's preface to his commentary on

Sun Tzu: —

War may be defined as punishment, which is one of the functions of

government. It was the profession of Chung Yu and Jan Chìu, both

disciples of Confucius. Nowadays, the holding of trials and hearing of

litigation, the imprisonment of offenders and their execution by

flogging in the market- place, 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 rack 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 good…. 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." [59] "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. When

the Duke of Chou was minister under Chèng Wang, he regulated

ceremonies and made music, and venerated the arts of scholarship

and learning; yet when the barbarians of the River Huai revolted, [60]

he sallied forth and chastised them. When Confucius held office

under the Duke of Lu, and a meeting was convened at Chia-ku, [61]

he said: "If pacific negotiations are in progress, warlike preparations

should have been made beforehand." He rebuked and shamed the

Marquis of Chì, 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?

We have seen that the great Chu Hsi held Sun Tzu 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." [62]

Replying to Kùng Wen-tzu, he said: I have not been instructed about

buff-coats and weapons." But if we turn to the meeting at Chia-ku, we

find that he used armed force against the men of Lai, so that the

marquis of Chì was overawed. Again, when the inhabitants of Pi

revolted, the ordered his officers to attack them, whereupon they

were defeated and fled in confusion. He once uttered the words: "If I

fight, I conquer." [63] And Jan Yu also said: "The Sage exercises both civil and military functions." [64] 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.

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

Confucius said: "I am unversed in military matters." [65] He also said:

"If I fight, I conquer." Confucius ordered ceremonies and regulated

music. Now war constitutes one of the five classes of State

ceremonial, [66] 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 Tzu, who was employed by Wu Tzu-hsu, there is no need to

learn it oneself. Hence the remark added by Confucius: "If I fight, I

conquer." 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, [67] 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. [68] Weapons are

baneful [69] and fighting perilous; and useless unless a general is in

constant practice, he ought not to hazard other men's lives in battle.

[70] Hence it is essential that Sun Tzu's 13 chapters should be

studied. Hsiang Liang used to instruct his nephew Chi [71] 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 Sung and King Yen of Hsu 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, [72] and also of

his having left the Sung State in disguise. [73] Can we then recklessly

arraign Sun Tzu for disregarding truth and honesty?

Bibliography ——————

The following are the oldest Chinese treatises on war, after

Tzu. The notes on each have been drawn principally from the

KÙ CHÙAN SHU CHIEN MING MU LU, ch. 9, fol. 22 sqq.

1. WU TZU, in 1 CHUAN or 6 chapters. By Wu Chì (d. 381

A genuine work. See SHIH CHI, ch. 65.

2. SSU-MA FA, in 1 CHUAN or 5 chapters. Wrongly attributed to Ssu-

ma Jang-chu of the 6th century B.C. Its date, however, must be early,

as the customs of the three ancient dynasties are constantly to be

met within its pages. See SHIH CHI, ch. 64. The SSU KÙ CHÙAN

SHU (ch. 99, f. 1) remarks that the oldest three treatises on war, SUN

TZU, WU TZU and SSU-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 soldiers — in strong contrast to later works, in

which the science of war is usually blended with metaphysics,

divination and magical arts in general.

3. LIU TÀO, in 6 CHUAN, or 60 chapters. Attributed to Lu Wang (or

Lu Shang, also known as Tài Kung) of the 12th century B.C. [74] But

its style does not belong to the era of the Three Dynasties. Lu Te-

ming (550-625 A.D.) mentions the work, and enumerates the

headings of the six sections so that the forgery cannot have been

later than Sui dynasty.

4. WEI LIAO TZU, in 5 CHUAN. Attributed to Wei Liao (4th cent.

B.C.), who studied under the famous Kuei-ku Tzu. The work appears

to have been originally 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. It is been furnished with a commentary by the well-

known Sung philosopher Chang Tsai.

5. SAN LUEH, in 3 CHUAN. Attributed to Huang-shih Kung, a

legendary personage who is said to have bestowed it on Chang Liang

(d. 187 B.C.) in an interview on a bridge. But here again, the style is

not that of works dating from the Chìn or Han period. The Han

Emperor Kuang Wu [25-57 A.D.] 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

A.D.], or somewhat earlier.

6. LI WEI KUNG WEN TUI, in 3 sections. Written in the form of a

dialogue between Tài Tsung and his great general 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.

7. LI CHING PING FA (not to be confounded with the foregoing) is a

short treatise in 8 chapters, preserved in the Tùng Tien, but not

published separately. This fact explains its omission from the SSU


8. WU CHÌ CHING, in 1 CHUAN. Attributed to the legendary minister

Feng Hou, with exegetical notes by Kung-sun Hung of the Han

dynasty (d. 121 B.C.), and said to have been eulogized by the

celebrated general Ma Lung (d. 300 A.D.). Yet the earliest mention of

it is in the SUNG CHIH. Although a forgery, the work is well put


Considering the high popular estimation in which 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 SHIH LIU TSÈ (1 CHUAN),

preserved in the YUNG LO TA TIEN; (2) CHIANG YUAN (1 CHUAN);

and (3) HSIN SHU (1 CHUAN), which steals wholesale from Sun Tzu.

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: —

TÙNG TIEN (circa 800 A.D.), ch. 148-162.

LAN (983), ch. 270-359.
 WEN HSIEN TUNG KÀO (13th cent.),

ch. 221.
 YU HAI (13th cent.), ch. 140, 141.

HUI (16th cent).
 KUANG PO WU CHIH (1607), ch. 31,

 CHÌEN CHÌO LEI SHU (1632), ch. 75.

LEI HAN (1710), ch. 206-229.

(1726), section XXX, esp. ch. 81-

TÙNG KÀO (1784), ch. 121-134.

WEN PIEN (1826), ch. 76, 77.

The bibliographical sections of certain historical works

deserve mention: —

CHÌEN HAN SHU, ch. 30.
 SUI SHU, ch. 32-35.

TÀNG SHU, ch. 46, 47.

 SUNG SHIH, ch. 202-209.
 TÙNG CHIH (circa 1150),

ch. 68.

To these of course must be added the great Catalogue of

 Imperial Library: —

SSU KÙ CHÙAN SHU TSUNG MU TÌ YAO (1790), ch. 99, 100.

Footnotes ————-

1. SHI CHI, ch. 65.

2. He reigned from 514 to 496 B.C.

3. SHI CHI, ch. 130.

4. The appellation of Nang Wa.

5. SHI CHI, ch. 31.

6. SHI CHI, ch. 25.

7. The appellation of Hu Yen, mentioned in ch. 39 under the year


8. Wang-tzu Chèng-fu, ch. 32, year 607.

9. The mistake is natural enough. Native critics refer to a work of the

Han dynasty, which says: "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 Chì, who excelled in

the art of war, by the King of Wu."

10. "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."

11. The son and successor of Ho Lu. He was finally defeated and

overthrown by Kou chien, King of Yueh, in 473 B.C. See post.

12. King Yen of Hsu, a fabulous being, of whom Sun Hsing-yen says

in his preface: "His humanity brought him to destruction."

13. The passage I have put in brackets is omitted in the TÙ

and may be an interpolation. It was known, however to Chang

chieh of the Tàng dynasty, and appears in the TÀI PÌNG YU

14. Tsào Kung seems to be thinking of the first part of chap. II,

perhaps especially of ss. 8.

15. See chap. XI.

16. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that WU TZU, which is not in 6

chapters, has 48 assigned to it in the HAN CHIH. Likewise, the

CHUNG YUNG is credited with 49 chapters, though now only in one

only. In the case of very short works, one is tempted to think that

PÌEN might simply mean "leaves."

17. Yeh Shih of the Sung dynasty [1151-1223].

18. He hardly deserves to be bracketed with assassins.

19. See Chapter 7, ss. 27 and Chapter 11, ss. 28.

20. See Chapter 11, ss. 28. Chuan Chu is the abbreviated form of his


21. I.e. Po Pèi. See ante.

22. The nucleus of this work is probably genuine, though large

additions have been made by later hands. Kuan chung died in 645


23. See infra, beginning of INTRODUCTION.

24. I do not know what this work, unless it be the last chapter of

another work. Why that chapter should be singled out, however, is

not clear.

25. About 480 B.C.

26. That is, I suppose, the age of Wu Wang and Chou Kung.

27. In the 3rd century B.C.

28. Ssu-ma Jang-chu, whose family name was Tìen, lived in the

latter half of the 6th century B.C., and is also believed to have written

a work on war. See SHIH CHI, ch. 64, and infra at the beginning of


29. 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 B.C.

30. See MENCIUS III. 1. iii. 13-20.

31. When Wu first appears in the CHÙN CHÌU in 584, it is already at

variance with its powerful neighbor. The CHÙN CHÌU first mentions

Yueh in 537, the TSO CHUAN in 601.

32. This is explicitly stated in the TSO CHUAN, XXXII, 2.

33. 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. ss. 30.

34. With Wu Yuan 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.

35. From TSO CHUAN: "From the date of King Chao's accession

[515] there was no year in which Chù was not attacked by Wu."

36. Preface ad fin: "My family comes from Lo-an, and we are really

descended from Sun Tzu. 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!"

37. Hoa-yin is about 14 miles from Tùng-kuan on the eastern border

of Shensi. The temple in question is still visited by those about the

ascent of the Western Sacred Mountain. It is mentioned in a text as

being "situated five LI east of the district city of Hua-yin. The temple

contains the Hua-shan tablet inscribed by the Tàng Emperor Hsuan

Tsung [713-755]."

38. See my "Catalogue of Chinese Books" (Luzac & Co., 1908), no.


39. This is a discussion of 29 difficult passages in Sun Tzu.

40. Cf. Catalogue of the library of Fan family at Ningpo: "His

commentary is frequently obscure; it furnishes a clue, but does not

fully develop the meaning."

41. WEN HSIEN TÙNG KÀO, ch. 221.

42. 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.

43. The Hsia, the Shang and the Chou. Although the last-named was

nominally existent in Sun Tzu's day, it retained hardly a vestige of

power, and the old military organization had practically gone by the

board. I can suggest no other explanation of the passage.

44. See CHOU LI, xxix. 6-10.

45. TÙNG KÀO, ch. 221.

46. This appears to be still extant. See Wylie's "Notes," p. 91 (new


47. TÙNG KÀO, loc. cit.

48. A notable person in his day. His biography is given in the SAN

KUO CHIH, ch. 10.

49. See XI. ss. 58, note.

50. HOU HAN SHU, ch. 17 ad init.

51. SAN KUO CHIH, ch. 54.

52. SUNG SHIH, ch. 365 ad init.

53. The few Europeans who have yet had an opportunity of

acquainting themselves with Sun Tzu 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 no. 11 [in Chapter

VIII] is one that the people of this country would do well to take to


54. Ch. 140.

55. See IV. ss. 3.

56. The allusion may be to Mencius VI. 2. ix. 2.

57. The TSO CHUAN.

58. SHIH CHI, ch. 25, fol. I.

59. Cf. SHIH CHI, ch 47.

60. See SHU CHING, preface ss. 55.

61. See SHIH CHI, ch. 47.

62. Lun Yu, XV. 1.

63. I failed to trace this utterance.

64. Supra.

65. Supra.

66. The other four being worship, mourning, entertainment of guests,

and festive rites. See SHU CHING, ii. 1. III. 8, and CHOU LI, IX. fol.


67. See XIII. ss. 11, note.

68. This is a rather obscure allusion to the TSO CHUAN, where Tzu-

chàn says: "If you have a piece of beautiful brocade, you will not

employ a mere learner to make it up."

69. Cf. TAO TE CHING, ch. 31.

70. Sun Hsing-yen might have quoted Confucius again. See LUN YU,

XIII. 29, 30.

71. Better known as Hsiang Yu [233-202 B.C.].

72. SHIH CHI, ch. 47.

73. SHIH CHI, ch. 38.

74. See XIII. ss. 27, note. Further details on Tài 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 Wen Wang.