Page:Sun Tzu on The art of war.djvu/30

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Fu Ch‘ai defeats Kou Chien in the great battle of 夫椒 Fu-chiao, and enters the capital of Yüeh.
Kou Chien renders homage to Wu. Death of Wu Tzŭ-hsü.
Kou Chien invades Wu in the absence of Fu Ch‘ai.
Further attacks by Yüeh on Wu.
Kou Chien lays siege to the capital of Wu.
Final defeat and extinction of Wu.

The sentence quoted above from VI. § 21 hardly strikes me as one that could have been written in the full flush of victory. It seems rather to imply that, for the moment at least, the tide had turned against Wu, and that she was getting the worst of the struggle. Hence we may conclude that our treatise was not in existence in 505, before which date Yüeh does not appear to have scored any notable success against Wu. Ho Lu died in 496, so that if the book was written for him, it must have been during the period 505–496, when there was a lull in the hostilities, Wu having presumably been exhausted by its supreme effort against Ch‘u. On the other hand, if we choose to disregard the tradition connecting Sun Wu’s name with Ho Lu, it might equally well have seen the light between 496 and 494, or possibly in the period 482–473, when Yüeh was once again becoming a very serious menace.[1] We may feel fairly certain that the author, whoever he may have been, was not a man of any great eminence in his own day. On this point the negative testimony of the Tso Chuan far outweighs any shred of authority still attaching to the Shih Chi, if once its other facts are discredited. Sun Hsing-yen, however, makes a feeble attempt to explain the omission of his name from

  1. There is this to be said for the later period, that the feud would tend to grow more bitter after each encounter, and thus more fully justify the language used in XI. § 30.