The Art of War, by Sun Tzu1The Art of War, by Sun TzuThe Project Gutenberg eBook, The Art of War, by Sun TzuThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You maycopy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook oronline at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The Art of WarAuthor: Sun TzuTranslator: Lionel GilesRelease Date: May 1994 [eBook 132] [Most recently updated December 28, 2005]Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ART OF WAR ***Note: Please see Project Gutenberg's eBook 17405 for a version of this eBook without the Giles commentary(that is, with only the Sun Tzu text).SUN TZU ON THE ART OF WAR

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu2THE OLDEST MILITARY TREATISE IN THE WORLDTranslated from the Chinese with Introductionand Critical NotesBYLIONEL GILES, M.A.Assistant in the Department of Oriental Printed Books and the British MuseumFirst Published in 1910To my brotherCaptain Valentine Giles, the hope thata work 2400 years oldmay yet contain lessons worth considerationby the soldier of todaythis translationis affectionately dedicated.Preface to the Project Gutenburg EtextWhen Lionel Giles began his translation of Sun Tzu's ART OF WAR, the work was virtually unknown inEurope. Its introduction to Europe began in 1782 when a French Jesuit Father living in China, Joseph Amiot,acquired a copy of it, and translated it into French. It was not a good translation because, according to Dr.Giles, "[I]t contains a great deal that Sun Tzu did not write, and very little indeed of what he did."The first translation into English was published in 1905 in Tokyo by Capt. E. F. Calthrop, R.F.A. However,this translation is, in the words of Dr. Giles, "excessively bad." He goes further in this criticism: "It is notmerely a question of downright blunders, from which none can hope to be wholly exempt. Omissions werefrequent; hard passages were willfully distorted or slurred over. Such offenses are less pardonable. Theywould not be tolerated in any edition of a Latin or Greek classic, and a similar standard of honesty ought to beinsisted upon in translations from Chinese." In 1908 a new edition of Capt. Calthrop's translation waspublished in London. It was an improvement on the first -- omissions filled up and numerous mistakescorrected -- but new errors were created in the process. Dr. Giles, in justifying his translation, wrote: "It wasnot undertaken out of any inflated estimate of my own powers; but I could not help feeling that Sun Tzudeserved a better fate than had befallen him, and I knew that, at any rate, I could hardly fail to improve on thework of my predecessors."

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu3Clearly, Dr. Giles' work established much of the groundwork for the work of later translators who publishedtheir own editions. Of the later editions of the ART OF WAR I have examined; two feature Giles' editedtranslation and notes, the other two present the same basic information from the ancient Chinesecommentators found in the Giles edition. Of these four, Giles' 1910 edition is the most scholarly and presentsthe reader an incredible amount of information concerning Sun Tzu's text, much more than any othertranslation.The Giles' edition of the ART OF WAR, as stated above, was a scholarly work. Dr. Giles was a leadingsinologue at the time and an assistant in the Department of Oriental Printed Books and Manuscripts in theBritish Museum. Apparently he wanted to produce a definitive edition, superior to anything else that existedand perhaps something that would become a standard translation. It was the best translation available for 50years. But apparently there was not much interest in Sun Tzu in English- speaking countries since it took thestart of the Second World War to renew interest in his work. Several people published unsatisfactory Englishtranslations of Sun Tzu. In 1944, Dr. Giles' translation was edited and published in the United States in aseries of military science books. But it wasn't until 1963 that a good English translation (by Samuel B. Griffithand still in print) was published that was an equal to Giles' translation. While this translation is more lucidthan Dr. Giles' translation, it lacks his copious notes that make his so interesting.Dr. Giles produced a work primarily intended for scholars of the Chinese civilization and language. It containsthe Chinese text of Sun Tzu, the English translation, and voluminous notes along with numerous footnotes.Unfortunately, some of his notes and footnotes contain Chinese characters; some are completely Chinese.Thus, a conversion to a Latin alphabet etext was difficult. I did the conversion in complete ignorance ofChinese (except for what I learned while doing the conversion). Thus, I faced the difficult task ofparaphrasing it while retaining as much of the important text as I could. Every paraphrase represents a loss;thus I did what I could to retain as much of the text as possible. Because the 1910 text contains a Chineseconcordance, I was able to transliterate proper names, books, and the like at the risk of making the text moreobscure. However, the text, on the whole, is quite satisfactory for the casual reader, a transformation madepossible by conversion to an etext. However, I come away from this task with the feeling of loss because Iknow that someone with a background in Chinese can do a better job than I did; any such attempt would bewelcomed.Bob duINTRODUCTIONSun Wu and his BookSsu-ma Ch ien gives the following biography of Sun Tzu: [1]Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch i State. His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, [2] Kingof Wu. Ho Lu said to him: "I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managingsoldiers to a slight test?"Sun Tzu replied: "You may."Ho Lu asked: "May the test be applied to women?"

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu4The answer was again in the affirmative, so arrangements were made to bring 180 ladies out of the Palace.Sun Tzu divided them into two companies, and placed one of the King's favorite concubines at the head ofeach. He then bade them all take spears in their hands, and addressed them thus: "I presume you know thedifference between front and back, right hand and left hand?"The girls replied: Yes.Sun Tzu went on: "When I say "Eyes front," you must look straight ahead. When I say "Left turn," you mustface 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 your back."Again the girls assented. The words of command having been thus explained, he set up the halberds andbattle-axes in order to begin the drill. Then, to the sound of drums, he gave the order "Right turn." But thegirls only burst out laughing. Sun Tzu said: "If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are notthoroughly 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 moreburst into fits of laughter. Sun Tzu: "If words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are notthoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if his orders ARE clear, and the soldiers neverthelessdisobey, 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 thescene from the top of a raised pavilion; and when he saw that his favorite concubines were about to beexecuted, he was greatly alarmed and hurriedly sent down the following message: "We are now quite satisfiedas to our general's ability to handle troops. If We are bereft of these two concubines, our meat and drink willlose their savor. It is our wish that they shall not be beheaded."Sun Tzu replied: "Having once received His Majesty's commission to be the general of his forces, there arecertain commands of His Majesty which, acting in that capacity, I am unable to accept."Accordingly, he had the two leaders beheaded, and straightway installed the pair next in order as leaders intheir place. When this had been done, the drum was sounded for the drill once more; and the girls wentthrough all the evolutions, turning to the right or to the left, marching ahead or wheeling back, kneeling orstanding, with perfect accuracy and precision, not venturing to utter a sound. Then Sun Tzu sent a messengerto the King saying: "Your soldiers, Sire, are now properly drilled and disciplined, and ready for your majesty'sinspection. They can be put to any use that their sovereign may desire; bid them go through fire and water,and they will not disobey."But the King replied: "Let our general cease drilling and return to camp. As for us, We have no wish to comedown and inspect the troops."Thereupon Sun Tzu said: "The King is only fond of words, and cannot translate them into deeds."After that, Ho Lu saw that Sun Tzu was one who knew how to handle an army, and finally appointed himgeneral. In the west, he defeated the Ch u State and forced his way into Ying, the capital; to the north he putfear into the States of Ch i and Chin, and spread his fame abroad amongst the feudal princes. And Sun Tzushared in the might of the King.About Sun Tzu himself this is all that Ssu-ma Ch ien has to tell us in this chapter. But he proceeds to give abiography of his descendant, Sun Pin, born about a hundred years after his famous ancestor's death, and alsothe outstanding military genius of his time. The historian speaks of him too as Sun Tzu, and in his preface weread: "Sun Tzu had his feet cut off and yet continued to discuss the art of war." [3] It seems likely, then, that

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu5"Pin" was a nickname bestowed on him after his mutilation, unless the story was invented in order to accountfor the name. The crowning incident of his career, the crushing defeat of his treacherous rival P ang Chuan,will be found briefly related in Chapter V. ss. 19, note.To return to the elder Sun Tzu. He is mentioned in two other passages of the SHIH CHI: -In the third year of his reign [512 B.C.] Ho Lu, king of Wu, took the field with Tzu-hsu [i.e. Wu Yuan] and PoP ei, and attacked Ch u. He captured the town of Shu and slew the two prince's sons who had formerly beengenerals of Wu. He was then meditating a descent on Ying [the capital]; but the general Sun Wu said: "Thearmy is exhausted. It is not yet possible. We must wait". [After further successful fighting,] "in the ninthyear [506 B.C.], King Ho Lu addressed Wu Tzu-hsu and Sun Wu, saying: "Formerly, you declared that it wasnot yet possible for us to enter Ying. Is the time ripe now?" The two men replied: "Ch u's general Tzu-ch ang,[4] is grasping and covetous, and the princes of T ang and Ts ai both have a grudge against him. If YourMajesty has resolved to make a grand attack, you must win over T ang and Ts ai, and then you may succeed."Ho Lu followed this advice, [beat Ch u in five pitched battles and marched into Ying.] [5]This is the latest date at which anything is recorded of Sun Wu. He does not appear to have survived hispatron, who died from the effects of a wound in 496.In another chapter there occurs this passage: [6]From this time onward, a number of famous soldiers arose, one after the other: Kao-fan, [7] who wasemployed by the Chin State; Wang-tzu, [8] in the service of Ch i; and Sun Wu, in the service of Wu. Thesemen developed and threw light upon the principles of war.It is obvious enough that Ssu-ma Ch ien at least had no doubt about the reality of Sun Wu as an historicalpersonage; and with one exception, to be noticed presently, he is by far the most important authority on theperiod in question. It will not be necessary, therefore, to say much of such a work as the WU YUEH CH UNCH IU, which is supposed to have been written by Chao Yeh of the 1st century A.D. The attribution issomewhat doubtful; but even if it were otherwise, his account would be of little value, based as it is on theSHIH CHI and expanded with romantic details. The story of Sun Tzu will be found, for what it is worth, inchapter 2. The only new points in it worth noting are: (1) Sun Tzu was first recommended to Ho Lu by WuTzu-hsu. (2) He is called a native of Wu. (3) He had previously lived a retired life, and his contemporarieswere unaware of his ability.The following passage occurs in the Huai-nan Tzu: "When sovereign and ministers show perversity of mind,it is impossible even for a Sun Tzu to encounter the foe." Assuming that this work is genuine (and hitherto nodoubt has been cast upon it), we have here the earliest direct reference for Sun Tzu, for Huai-nan Tzu died in122 B.C., many years before the SHIH CHI was given to the world.Liu Hsiang (80-9 B.C.) says: "The reason why Sun Tzu at the head of 30,000 men beat Ch u with 200,000 isthat the latter were undisciplined."Teng Ming-shih informs us that the surname "Sun" was bestowed on Sun Wu's grandfather by Duke Ching ofCh i [547-490 B.C.]. Sun Wu's father Sun P ing, rose to be a Minister of State in Ch i, and Sun Wu himself,whose style was Ch ang-ch ing, fled to Wu on account of the rebellion which was being fomented by thekindred of T ien Pao. He had three sons, of whom the second, named Ming, was the father of Sun Pin.According to this account then, Pin was the grandson of Wu, which, considering that Sun Pin's victory overWei was gained in 341 B.C., may be dismissed as chronological impossible. Whence these data were obtainedby Teng Ming-shih I do not know, but of course no reliance whatever can be placed in them.An interesting document which has survived from the close of the Han period is the short preface written by

The Art of War, by Sun Tzu6the Great Ts ao Ts ao, or Wei Wu Ti, for his edition of Sun Tzu. I shall give it in full: -I have heard that the