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By Sun Tzu
About the Author
Sun Tzu was a Chinese general, military strategist, and philosopher who lived in the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Aside from his legacy as the author of The Art of War, Sun Tzu is revered in Chinese and the Culture of Asia as a legendary historical figure. His birth name was Sun Wu, and he was known outside of his family by the name Changqing. The name Sun Tzu by which he is best known in the West is an honorific which means “Master Sun.”
Sun Tzu’s historicity is uncertain. Sima Qian and other traditional historians placed him as a minister to King Helü of Wu and dated his lifetime to 544–496 BC. Others believe he was born before 514 BC when it is believed The Art of War was written. Modern scholars accept his historicity and place the existing text of The Art of War in the later Warring States period based upon its style of composition and its descriptions of warfare.
About the Translator
Lionel Giles (29 December 1875 – 22 January 1958) was a British scholar and translator. Lionel Giles served as assistant curator at the British Museum and Keeper of the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books. Lionel Giles is most notable for his 1910 translation of The Art of War by Sun Tzu and The Analects of Confucius.
Creative Content Copyright © Magdalene Press 2017
Magdalene Press, Quebec, Canada, 2017
1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account beneglected.
3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determinethe conditions obtaining in the field.
4. These are:
(1) The Moral Law;
(4) The Commander;
(5) Method and discipline.
5, 6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives,undismayed by any danger.
7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life anddeath.
9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.
10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among theofficers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army,and the control of military expenditure.
11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not willfail.
12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, inthis wise:
13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?
(2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
(3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?
(4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?
(5) Which army is stronger?
(6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?
(7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat.
15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general thathearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat:--let sucha one be dismissed!
16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinaryrules.
17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one's plans.
18. All warfare is based on deception.
19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must makethe enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believewe are near.
20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.
22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.
24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.
26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battlemakes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations leadto victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculationat all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likelyto win or lose.
1. Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, anda hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carrythem a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, includingentertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spenton chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silverper day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000men.
2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped.If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.
3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains willspring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise,will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.