The treatise "Sun Tzu", the authorship of which, according to general belief, belongs to the famous military commander Sun Wu, has long been revered in China as the chief military canon. The title of "canonical" means, among other things, that the book is intended for not easy and superficial reading, but slow and in-depth, for memorization, almost soaking it in oneself to the last word. For "canon" in China - as in every cultural tradition - it is ultimately nothing else than a literary image of the infinite diversity of the creative abundance of life itself. It does not contain abstract ideas and concepts of logic, for it is not the fullness of life experience brings to abstract speculation. It teaches the intuitive and integral knowledge, which gives the correct orientation in the global flow of events. It does not pose, but directs.
During his lifetime, Sun Wu became famous as the victorious commander of the southern kingdom of Wu, which is in the lower reaches of the Yangtze. However, if we assume, as was the custom in China, the stealth as the first virtue of a strategist, Sun Wu even for that matter demonstrated extraordinary talent: in the historical documents of that time was kept absolutely no evidence about his personality. Among the scientists in China there were a lot of people who were pyrrhonists and who questioned whether the legendary leader and founder of China's main military canon ever existed. There is no serious reason to agree with this extreme point of view: at least one episode in the life of Sun Tzu is preserved in the annals of the kingdom Wu, and his name has become a household word in ancient times to describe the ideal warlord. The main thing is a treatise, attributed
The only biography of Sun Wu in ancient literature belongs to Sima Qian, author of the main work on the history of ancient China - "Records of the Grand Historian". This biography is extremely laconic. If to trust Sima Qian (historiographer’s point view can be supported by a number of other ancient literary evidence), Sun Wu was a northerner by birth - a native of the kingdom of Qi, which has been occupying the territory of the modern province of Shandong. Tradition says that he was a descendant of the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Chen, who in 672 BC, as a result of palace intrigues, was forced to leave his homeland and obtained the position of overseer of public works in the kingdom of Qi. Great-grandson of the disgraced prince Tian Xu was famous in the war with the southern kingdom of Chu - a longtime rival of kingdom of Qi – and for it has received the inheritance and name of Sun from the emperor. Sun Wu was the grandson of Tian Xu, but his family as it often happened in ancient China, quickly lost its political weight. In any case, according to some accounts, in his youth Sun Wu "I lived in seclusion away from the world, and people are not aware of his talents." Mature years of the life of Sun Wu comes from the last decades of the VI century BC, which means that he was almost the same age as the famous scholar and teacher of morality Confucius.
In adulthood, Sun Wu moved into the kingdom of Wu and what is easy to assume, against his will. The political situation within the kingdom at that time was unstable as ever, many of the reigning family lost a real power, and the ruling nobility mired in intrigues, feuds and riots. Political exiles were to be found everywhere. However, if to trust Sima Qian, Sun Tzu belonged to the one of the most powerful clans of his kingdom, making the fact of his moving to Wu a cause of confusion of some researchers. It is noteworthy, however, that as a result of "rebellion of four clans" happened in the kingdom of Qi in 545, the first adviser of Cisco on behalf Qing Feng ran into the kingdom of the Wu. Does it mean that Sun Wu was a man of Qing Feng and that he preferred personal devotion to the patron by blood ties, as his relatives were in the ranks of the rebels? That we'll probably never know.
There is evidence that at the time of his arrival in Sun Tzu Wu already gained fame for his knowledge of military strategy and even composed his famous "Book of 13 chapters." In 515, the Crown Prince Wu named Helü (this name is written differently in different sources) seized the throne. Young, full of ambitious plans the governor conceived to start a war against the neighboring kingdom of Chu, and one of his advisers recommended stranger to his master as a possible candidate for the post of Chief of the royal army. Helü began to meet with the refugee from Qi and talk with him about military affairs. In the list of recently found the book "Sun Tzu", referring to the middle of the II century BC, contains records of these conversations. In them, among other things, reported that Helü visited "Sun inn", and Sun Wu calls himself as an "alien national". Judging by these records, Helü apparently did not believe in the leadership talent of Sun Wu too much, all urged him to "play war for fun", and on what Sun Tzu said: "The army is intended for use, not for entertainment. It is an instrument of misery, not fun." Nevertheless, a visitor from the north claimed that his military methods make it possible to perfect the army of anyone - nobles, commoners and even women. Then Helü offered Sun Wu to show his abilities in offering him to use the most ungrateful material - mistresses of the king's harem. The king ordered to bring from the women's quarters of the palace one hundred and eighty (according to other sources - all three hundred) beauties. When these "recruits" have gathered in the palace hall, a strategist got down to business: divided concubines into two groups and ordered them to put on the battle armor, then he put in charge of both units royal mistresses, and then began to teach them to use a halberd and execute commands. Fortunately, Helü managed to appreciate the strategic talent of Sun Wu and instructed him to lead the military campaign against the western neighbor of Wu - the powerful kingdom of Chu. In a short time Sun Wu managed to achieve a conclusive victory over the troops of Chu and even capture the capital of Chu. He also killed two former military leaders of Wu, sided with the Chu. Later, he made a trip to the north and dealt a defeat to the armies and kingdoms of Qi and Jin, earned a reputation as the commander, unrivaled in the whole world.
On these records the information about the life of Sun Wu drops. It is known nothing about his future life and death. However, it is known that the grave of Sun Wu in the form of a huge hill three miles from capital of Wu could be seen for a few more centuries.
In literary sources there is little information about the early history of the written heritage, Sun Y. However, the scientist-legist Han Fei Tzu in the III century BC stated, clearly falling into rhetorical exaggeration that "the book of Sun Wu relates to the field of metaphysics culture. For he is a Canon, to indicate the kind of inexplicable, as if anticipating the external phenomena and mental concepts of the truth of life. One must say that many important writings in the Chinese tradition have such an aura of "virtual existence". Be that as it may, some scientists have argued then that the current text of the "Sun Tzu" is a later forgery. Only the I century historian Ban Gu in the references’ section of his work "History of Early Han Dynasty" refers to the essay "The laws of Sun Tzu in 82 chapters with nine scrolls of illustrations." Undoubtedly, such a collection of materials could only be the result of creativity of several generations of followers of the great strategist. It is known that these materials are also included records of conversations of Sun Wu with the governor of Y, drawings, depicting the construction of combat troops, and so on. Sun Wu also attributed - though hardly justified - authorship of a mathematical treatise of antiquity.
At the beginning of the III century a famous military leader and an expert on military affairs, Cao Cao (155-220) wrote the first commentary on the book of Sun Wu and offered his summary edition of the text, in which for several centuries the "secret" of existence accumulated a lot of errors and discrepancies. At that time, there were other commentators of "Sun Tzu", but their works were lost. It took another four centuries before the main military canon of China has a new interpreter - a certain "Mr. Man" (the story has not even kept his name). Finally, since the era of the Tang Dynasty (VII-IX centuries.) studying and commenting on the military canon took a regular character. At the same time new generation of commentators could only speculate about the original form of the book. One of them, Du Mu, even believed that exactly Cao Cao brought the book Sun Tzu to thirteen chapters, deleting the most of the texts. Opinion of Du Mu, how it is now known is not true, just shows that scientists of medieval China did not have a clue to the early textual history of military canon.
Since the end of the first millennium studying and commentary of the book Sun Tzu began to move forward quickly. Soon there were its prints. The most famous is the text published as part of the traditional "seven military canons" (the first printed edition - 1081), and the publication of "Sun Tzu with eleven commentators." (In fact, there were ten commentators in this book, but they traditionally add another compiler of the encyclopedia "Ton Dian" Du Wu, included in his work and the book Sun Tzu.). Other ancient list of "Sun Tzu" is available in the X century encyclopedia "Taiping Wulan", although the quality of the text, as well as text entered into the encyclopedia "Ton Dian" significantly inferior to the two publications mentioned above. Available version of "Sun Tzu" abound different interpretations. Fortunately, the vast majority of them has more likely a technical nature and does not affect the understanding of the text.
Enormous importance for the study of war and military strategy of the canons of ancient China have found in 1972 in the town of Shandong, in the burial official of Rannehan time (it dates back to 140 BC). The texts of two military treatises, "military law Sun Tzu "and, lost in antiquity," Sun Bin military laws". Both books, as was customary in those days, represent bundles of bamboo strips, and seriously damaged by the time. In his treatise Sun Tzu, for example, it lends itself to reading no more than third of its volume. However preserved fragments allow asserting with confidence that in ancient times the main body of the book was composed of 13 chapters and that the current text of the treatise very precisely, even surprisingly accurately reproduces its original appearance. Of course, there are also a lot of differences with the modern text, although these differences for the most part do not have the basic value.
It must be admitted, however, that the texts, shedding important light on the circumstances of the life Sun Wu and the content of the treatise attributed to him, are of little help of clarifying the early history of the China military canon. A number of signs point to the fact that they were written relatively late - after about two hundred years after the death of Sun Wu. Thus, in the current literature, there are three points of view on the issue of the time of origin of the treatise "Sun Tzu." According to one of them, the book should be dated about VI-V centuries BC. According to another view, the treatise was formed mainly in the second half of the V century BC. However, the most modern scholars are inclined to believe that the current text of the "Sun Tzu" appeared in the first half, or even in the middle of the IV century BC.
In the middle Ages a military canon Sun Tzu has been translated into Tangut and Manchurian languages. He also became very popular in Korea, and especially in Japan, where were a series of detailed comments of famous scientists and statesmen dedicated to it. Interestingly, the "Sun Tzu" very early became known in Europe: 1772 there was a French translation of the treatise, made by a missionary Jesuit Amiot. This book, by the way, was carefully studied by Napoleon. However, in the era of colonial conquest unquestionable military superiority of the West did not contribute to the study of Chinese military doctrine Europeans. Only in 1905 in Tokyo, appeared the first and very imperfect English translation of the treatise "Sun Tzu", based on the Japanese sources, which belonged to E. Calthrop.
But the importance of this treatise is just impossible to be overestimated. Every war, every commander, every soldier unconsciously but use the `Art of War`, because it gives the whole picture of what how to war in an appropriate way, what to expect from the war in both mental and physical questions (the answer is death), and how to be prepared for the unforeseen circumstances. Exactly because of it Sun Tzu is the most famous and the most accurate writing about the war, which will benefit not only the commanders, but common man, who is not alien to analytic thinking.
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Sun Tzu, `The Art of War`; Trans. By S.B. Griffith. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963