Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/16

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XIV
INTRODUCTION

It is obvious that Ssŭ-ma Ch‘ien 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 Ch‘un Ch’iu, which is supposed to have been written by 趙曄 Chao Yeh of the 1st century A.D. 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 Tzŭ will be found, for what it is worth, in chapter 2. The only new points in it worth noting are: 1) Sun Tzŭ was first recommended to Ho Lu by Wu Tzŭ-hsü. 2) He is called a native of Wu.[1] 3) He had previously lived a retired life, and his contemporaries were unaware of his ability.[2]

The following passage occurs in 淮南子 Huai-nan Tzŭ: “When sovereign and ministers show perversity of mind, it is impossible even for a Sun Tzŭ to encounter the foe.”[3] Assuming that this work is genuine (and hitherto no doubt has been cast upon it), we have here the earliest direct reference to Sun Tzŭ, for Huai-nan Tzu died in 122 B.C., many years before the Shih Chi was given to the world.

劉向 Liu Hsiang (B.C. 80-9) in his 新序 says: “The reason why Sun Wu at the head of 30,000 men beat


  1. The mistake is natural enough. Native critics refer to the 越絕書,a work of the Han dynasty,which says(ch. 2, fol. 3 v° 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 Ch'i, who excelled in the art of war, by the King of Wu.”
  2. 孫子者吳人也善為兵法辟幽居世人莫知其能.
  3. 君臣乖心則孫子不能以應敵.