Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/37

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xxxv
Introduction

exhaustible, must therefore be susceptible of treatment in a great variety of ways.[1]

1. 曹操 Ts‘ao Ts‘ao or 曹公 Ts‘ao Kung, afterwards known as 魏武帝 Wei Wu Ti [A.D. 155—220]. There is hardly any room for doubt that the earliest commentary on Sun Tzŭ actually came from the pen of this extraordinary man, whose biography in the San Kuo Chih[2] 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 marvellous rapidity of his marches, which has found expression in the line 說曹操曹操就到 “Talk of Ts‘ao Ts‘ao, and Ts‘ao Ts‘ao will appear.” Ou-yang Hsiu says of him that he was a great captain who “measured his strength against Tung Cho, Lü Pu and the two Yüan, 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.”[3] Ts‘ao Kung’s notes on Sun Tzŭ, 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 littérateur. Sometimes, indeed, owing to extreme com-


  1. Preface to Mei Yao-ch‘ên’s edition: 孫子注者尤多武之書本於兵兵之術非一而以不窮爲奇宜其者之多也.
  2. See 魏書, ch. 1.
  3. Loc. cit.: 然前世言善用兵稱曹公曹公嘗與董呂諸袁角其力而勝之遂與吳蜀分漢而王傳言魏之將出兵千里每坐計勝敗授其成算諸將用之十不失一一有違者兵輒敗北.