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  1. 故舉秋毫不爲多力見日月不爲明目聞雷霆不為聰耳
  2. 古之所謂善戰者勝勝易勝者也
  3. 故善戰者之勝也無智名無勇功


reptitiously, to foil the enemy’s intentions and baulk his schemes, so that at last the day may be won without shedding a drop of blood.” Sun Tzŭ reserves his approbation for things that

“the world’s coarse thumb

And finger fail to plumb.”


10. To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength;

秋毫 is explained as the fur of a hare, which is finest in autumn, when it begins to grow afresh. The phrase is a very common one in Chinese writers. Cf. Mencius, I. 1. vii. 10, and Chuang Tzŭ, 知北遊, et al.

to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight; to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.

Ho Shih gives as real instances of strength, sharp sight and quick hearing: 烏𫉬 Wu Huo, who could lift a tripod weighing 250 stone; 離朱 Li Chu, who at a distance of a hundred paces could see objects no bigger than a mustard seed; and 師曠 Shih K‘uang, a blind musician who could hear the footsteps of a mosquito.

11. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

The original text, followed by the T‘u Shu, has 勝於易勝者也. But this is an alteration evidently intended to smooth the awkwardness of 勝勝易勝者也, which means literally: “one who, conquering, excels in easy conquering.” Mei Yao-ch‘ên says: “He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks below the surface of things, wins with ease.”

12. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage.

Tu Mu explains this very well: “Inasmuch as his victories are gained over circumstances that have not come to light, the world at large knows nothing of them, and he wins no reputation for wisdom; inasmuch as the hostile state submits before there has been any bloodshed, he receives no credit for courage.”