Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/24

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xxii
Introduction

been the production of some private scholar living towards the end of the “Spring and Autumn” or the beginning of the “Warring States” period.[1] 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.[2]

From the flourishing period of the Chou dynasty[3] 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”[4] that this custom changed. Now although Wu was an uncivilised 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-chü[5] and Sun Wu, is not authentic matter, but the reckless fabrication of theorising pundits. The story of Ho Lü’s experiment on the women, in particular, is utterly preposterous and incredible.[6]

Yeh Shui-hsin represents Ssŭ-ma Ch‘ien as having said that Sun Wu crushed Ch‘u 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 actual subject of the verbs , , and is certainly 闔廬 as is shown by the next words: 孫子與有力焉.[7] The fact may or may not be significant; but it is nowhere explicitly stated in the Shih Chi either that Sun Tzŭ was general on the occasion of


  1. About 480 B. C.
  2. 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爲其言得用於吳者其徒夸大之說也.
  3. That is, I suppose, the age of Wu Wang and Chou Kung.
  4. In the 3rd century B. C.
  5. Ssŭ-ma Jang-chü, whose family name was T‘ien, 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, p. 1.
  6. 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呉雖蠻夷而孫武爲大將乃不爲命卿而左氏無傳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爲奇險不足信.
  7. See the end of the passage quoted from the Shih Chi on p. xii.