On the Art of War by Sun Tzu - HTML preview
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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.  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,  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. 
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,  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
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.  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
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,  nor with the nine punitive
measures prescribed to the Minister of War.  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. 
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."  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. 
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;  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.),  Feng I (d. 34 A.D.),  Lu Meng (d. 219),
 and Yo Fei (1103-1141).  The opinion of Tsào Kung, who
disputes with Han Hsin the highest place in Chinese military annals,
has already been recorded.  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:  —
Sun Wu's saying, that in war one cannot make certain of conquering,
 is very different indeed from what other books tell us.  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,  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. 
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."  "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, 
he sallied forth and chastised them. When Confucius held office
under the Duke of Lu, and a meeting was convened at Chia-ku, 
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." 
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."  And Jan Yu also said: "The Sage exercises both civil and military functions."  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."  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,  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,  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.  Weapons are
baneful  and fighting perilous; and useless unless a general is in
constant practice, he ought not to hazard other men's lives in battle.
 Hence it is essential that Sun Tzu's 13 chapters should be
studied. Hsiang Liang used to instruct his nephew Chi  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,  and also of
his having left the Sung State in disguise.  Can we then recklessly
arraign Sun Tzu for disregarding truth and honesty?
The following are the oldest Chinese treatises on war, after Sun
Tzu. The notes on each have been drawn principally from the SSU
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 B.C.).
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.  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
KÙ CHÙAN SHU.
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. TÀI PÌNG YU
LAN (983), ch. 270-359. WEN HSIEN TUNG KÀO (13th cent.),
ch. 221. YU HAI (13th cent.), ch. 140, 141. SAN TSÀI TÙ
HUI (16th cent). KUANG PO WU CHIH (1607), ch. 31,
32. CHÌEN CHÌO LEI SHU (1632), ch. 75. YUAN CHIEN
LEI HAN (1710), ch. 206-229. KU CHIN TÙ SHU CHI CHÈNG
(1726), section XXX, esp. ch. 81- 90. HSU WEN HSIEN
TÙNG KÀO (1784), ch. 121-134. HUANG CHÀO CHING SHIH
WEN PIEN (1826), ch. 76, 77.
The bibliographical sections of certain historical works also
deserve mention: —
CHÌEN HAN SHU, ch. 30. SUI SHU, ch. 32-35. CHIU
TÀNG SHU, ch. 46, 47. HSIN TÀNG SHU, ch.
57,60. SUNG SHIH, ch. 202-209. TÙNG CHIH (circa 1150),
To these of course must be added the great Catalogue of
the Imperial Library: —
SSU KÙ CHÙAN SHU TSUNG MU TÌ YAO (1790), ch. 99, 100.
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 SHU,
and may be an interpolation. It was known, however to Chang Shou-
chieh of the Tàng dynasty, and appears in the TÀI PÌNG YU LAN.
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
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
 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
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
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.
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.