Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/14

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XII
INTRODUCTION

scene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favourite 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 savour. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded. — Sun Tzŭ replied: Having once received His Majesty’s commission to be 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 Tzŭ 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 Tzŭ said: The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds. — After that, Ho Lu saw that Sun Tzŭ was one who knew how to handle an army, and finally appointed him general. In the West, he defeated the Ch‘u State and forced his way into Ying, the capital; to the north, he put fear into the States of Ch‘i and Chin, and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. And Sun Tzŭ shared in the might of the King.

About Sun Tzŭ himself this is all that Ssŭ-ma Ch‘ien 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 Tzŭ, and in his preface we read: 孫子臏腳而論兵法 “Sun Tzŭ had his feet cut off and yet continued to discuss the art of war.”[1] It seems likely, then, that “Pin” was a nickname bestowed on him after his mutilation, unless indeed the story was invented in order to account for the name. The crowning incident of his career, the crushing defeat of his treacherous rival P‘ang Chüan, will be found briefly related on p. 40.


  1. Shih Chi, ch. 130, f. 6 r°.