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7. Sze [The Host]


Thwan, or Overall Judgment (Attributed to King Wan)

Sze indicates how, in the case which it supposes, with firmness and correctness, and (a leader of) age and experience, there will be good fortune and no error.

[Legge] The conduct of military expeditions in a feudal kingdom, and we may say, generally, is denoted by the hexagram Sze. Referring to ['Comments on the Thwan' and 'Great Symbolism,' below] for an explanation of the way in which the combination of lines in it is made out to suggest the idea of an army, and that idea being assumed, it is easy to see how the undivided line in the second place should be interpreted of the general, who is responded to by the divided line in the fifth and royal place. Thus entire trust is reposed in him. He is strong and correct, and his enterprises will be successful. He is denominated kang zan, 'an old, experienced man.'

'The rules,' it is said, 'are twofold;—first, that the war be for a righteous end; and second, that the manner of conducting it, especially at the outset, be right.' But how this and the warning in the conclusion should both follow from the divided line being in the first place, has not been sufficiently explained.

Comments on the Thwan

1. (The name) Sze describes the multitude (of the host). The 'firmness and correctness' (which the hexagram indicates) refer to (moral) correctness (of aim). When (the mover) is able to use the multitude with such correctness, he may attain to the royal sway.

2. There is (the symbol of) strength in the centre (of the trigram below), and it is responded to (by its proper correlate above). The action gives rise to perils, but is in accordance (with the best sentiments of men). (Its mover) may by such action distress all the country, but the people will follow him;—there will be good fortune, and what error should there be?

[Legge] That 'multitude' is given here as if it were the meaning of the name Sze arose, probably, from there being but one undivided line in the figure. That is the symbol of the general, all the other lines, divided, suggest the idea of a multitude obedient to his orders. The general's place in the centre of the lower trigram, with the proper correlate in line 5, suggests the idea of firmness and correctness that dominates in the hexagram. But in the last sentence it is the ruler, and not the general of the host, who is the subject. Compare what is said of him with Mencius, I, i, chap. 3; ii, chap. 5, &c.

'Perilousness' is the attribute of Khan, the lower trigram, and 'docility,' or 'accordance with others,' that of Khwan, the upper. War is like 'poison' to a country, injurious, and threatening ruin to it, and yet the people will endure and encounter it in behalf of the sovereign whom they esteem and love.

Great Symbolism

(The trigram representing) the earth and in the midst of it that representing water, form Sze. The superior man, in accordance with this, nourishes and educates the people, and collects (from among them) the multitudes (of the hosts).

[Legge: Smaller Symbolism] 'The Great Symbolism' here is not more satisfactory than in other paragraphs of it which have already come before us. Ku Hsi says:—'As the water is not outside the earth, so soldiers are not outside the people. Therefore if (a ruler) be able to nourish the people, he can get the multitudes (of his hosts).' Is the meaning this,—that originally the people and soldiers are one body; that a portion of the people are taken out from among the mass, as occasion requires, to do the duty of soldiers; and that the nourishment and education of the people is the best way to have good soldiers ready for use on any emergency? Compare the saying of Confucius in Analects 13, xxx

Line Statements (Attributed to the Duke of Kau)

1. The first SIX, divided, shows the host going forth according to the rules (for such a movement). If these be not good, there will be evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The host goes forth according to the rules (for) such a movement:'—if those rules be not observed, there will be evil.

2. The second NINE, undivided, shows (the leader) in the midst of the host. There will be good fortune and no error. The king has thrice conveyed to him the orders (of his favour).

[Smaller Symbolism] 'He is in the midst of the host, and there will be good fortune:'—he has received the favour of Heaven. 'The king has thrice conveyed to him the orders (of) his favour:'—(the king) cherishes the myriad regions in his heart.

[Legge] How line 2 comes to be the symbol of the general in command of the army has been shown above on the Thwan. The orders of the king thrice conveyed to him are to be understood of his appointment to the command, and not of any rewards conferred on him as a tribute to his merit. Nor is stress to be laid on the 'thrice.' 'It does not mean that the appointment came to him three times; but that it was to him exclusively, and with the entire confidence of the king.' [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] What is said on the second line, that the general 'has received the favour of Heaven,' refers of course to the entire confidence reposed in him by the ruler or king, the subject of line 5. In this way Thien here is equal to Thien wang, so frequent in the 'Spring and Autumn,' and meaning—'King by the grace of Heaven.' But the great powers given to the general are from the king's wish through him to promote the good of all the nation.

3. The third SIX, divided, shows how the host may, possibly, have many inefficient leaders. There will be evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The host with the possibility of its having many idle leaders:'—great will be its want of success.

[Legge] The symbolism of line 3 is very perplexing. P. Regis translates it:—'Milites videntur deponere sarcinas in curribus. Male.' Canon McClatchie has:—'Third-six represents soldiers as it were lying dead in their baggage carts, and is unlucky.' To the same effect was my own translation of the paragraph, nearly thirty years ago. But the third line, divided, cannot be forced to have such an indication. The meaning I have now given is more legitimate, taken character by character, and more in harmony with the scope of the hexagram, The subject of line 2 is the one proper leader of the host. But line 3 is divided and weak, and occupies the place of a strong line, as if its subject had perversely jumped over two, and perched himself above it to take the command. This interpretation also suits better in the 5th paragraph.

4. The fourth SIX, divided, shows the host in retreat. There is no error.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The host is in retreat; but there is no error:'—there has been no failure in the regular course.

[Legge] Line 4 is weak and not central; and therefore 'to retreat' is natural for its subject. But its place is even, and proper for a divided line; and the retreat will be right in the circumstances. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] In military operations there must be one ruling will and mind. A divided authority is sure to be a failure. But 'a retreat' is no evidence of failure in a campaign. When advance would lead to disaster, retreat is the regular course to pursue.

5. The fifth SIX, divided, shows birds in the fields, which it will be advantageous to seize (and destroy). In that case there will be no error. If the oldest son leads the host, and younger men (idly occupy offices assigned to them), however firm and correct he may be, there will be evil.

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The oldest son leads the host:'—its movements are directed by him in accordance with his position in the centre. 'Younger men idly occupy their positions:'—the employment of such men is improper.

[Legge] In line 5 we seem to have an intimation of the important truth that only defensive war, or war waged by the rightful authority to put down rebellion and lawlessness, is right. 'The birds in the fields' symbolise parties attacking for plunder. The fifth line symbolises the chief authority,—the king, who is weak, or humble, and in the centre, and cedes the use of all his power to the general symbolised by line 2. The subject of 2 is 'the oldest son.' Those of three and four are supposed to be 'the younger brother and son,' that is, the younger men, who would cause evil if admitted to share the command.

6. The topmost SIX, divided, shows the great ruler delivering his charges, (appointing some) to be rulers of states, and others to undertake the headship of clans; but small men should not be employed (in such positions).

[Smaller Symbolism] 'The great ruler delivers his charges:'—thereby he rightly apportions merit. 'Small men should not be employed:'—they are sure to throw the states into confusion.

[Legge] The lesson on the topmost line is true and important, but the critics seem unable to deduce it from the nature of the line, as divided and in the sixth place. [Legge: Smaller Symbolism] Other ways can be found to reward small men. They ought not to be placed in situations where the condition of others will depend on them.

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Editorial features of this edition © 2012 by Joseph F. Morales