Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/13

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INTRODUCTION




Sun Wu and his Book.


Ssŭ-ma Ch‘ien gives the following biography of Sun Tzŭ:[1] ——

孫 子 武 Sun Tzŭ Wu was a native of the Ch'i State. His Art of War brought him to the notice of Ho Lu,[2] King of yi Wu. Ho Lu said to him: I have carefully perused your 13 chapters, May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test? — Sun Tzŭ replied: You may. — Ho Lu asked: May the test be applied to women? — The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace. Sun Tzŭ divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King’s favourite coneubines at the head of each. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: I presume you know the difference between front and back, right hand and left hand? — The girls replied: Yes. — Sun Tzŭ went on: When I say "Eyes front," you must look straight ahead. When I say “Left turn," you must face towards your left hand. When I say "Right turn," you must face towards your right hand. When I say "About turn," you must face right round towards the back. — Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds and battle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order "Right turn." But the girls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzŭ said: If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame. — So he started drilling them again, and this time gave the order "Left turn," whereupon the girls once more burst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzŭ said: If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders are clear, and the soldiers nevertheless disobey, then it is the fault of their officers. — So saying, he ordered the leaders of the two companies to be beheaded. Now the King of Wu was watching the

  1. Sňih Chi, ch. 65. 4
  2. Also written Ho Lü. He reigned from B14 to 496 B.C.