Peace Negotiations between Private Citizens of Song and Chuu
(A Historical Event around 631 B.C.)
Gong-Yang's Interpretation of Spring-Fall
Spring-Fall, written by Confucius, is a treatise of Chinese history
which records historical events centered in Country Luu. Peace negotiations
between other countries were usually not recorded. Why was this event recorded?
It was because Confucius wished to praise the private peace negotiations
between Tzyy and Hua. What did he find praiseworthy in these
negotiations? King Juang of Country Chuu besieged the capital of Country Song.
Chuu’s troops had only seven days of food remaining. If this food was consumed
within the seven days, they would have to retreat. Consequently, the king of Chuu
sent Defense Minister Tzyy to ascend a hill and spy on the situation in the
capital. Somehow Official Hua of Song had received the intelligence that Tzyy
was watching them, so he left the city and climbed the hill to see Tzyy.
Tzyy asked, "How is your country?"
Hua replied, "We are exhausted and have no food."
"To what extent?", asked Tzyy.
Hua answered, "We cannot bear to eat our own children. Therefore, we exchange our children
with other families, and split their bones to use as fuel."
Tzyy said, "Well, your situation is very difficult, indeed. I heard that a
besieged city uses wooden bits to prevent the horses from eating, but at the
same time exhibits a few fat horses to the enemy. This is a good trick. Why did
you tell me the truth?" Hua answered, "I heard that when seeing
misfortune, a virtuous person will sympathize with it, while an evil person will
gloat. I consider you a good man, so I tell you the truth."
Defense Minister Tzyy said, "OK! Keep up the good work! We have little food as
well. Our troops have only seven days of food remaining. If we use it up and
still cannot win the war, we will have to withdraw." Then he graciously said
good-bye and left.
Tzyy returned to see the King. King Juang of Chuu asked, "How is the enemy?"
Defense Minister Tzyy replied, "They are exhausted and have no food."
"Explain!", demanded the king.
Tzyy ansered, "They cannot bear to eat their own children. Therefore, they exchange their
children with other families, and split the bones to use as fuel.”
King Juang said, "Well, their situation is difficult, indeed. Nevertheless, I
will capture the city before I return home."
Defense Minister Tzyy said, "You
cannot. I already told Hua that our troops have only seven days of food supply."
King Juang said angrily, "I sent you to spy on them. Why did you tell Hua our
Defense Minister Tzyy said, "Song is a small country, but it has an
honest official. Can a large country like Chuu have no honest officials?
Therefore, I told Hua the truth."
King Juang said, "OK! You should pitch your
tent and then get some rest. Nevertheless, I will capture this city before I
Defense Minister Tzyy said, "Then you stay here. Let me go
"Are you leaving me and returning home?" asked King Juang, "With whom
shall I consult about the battle? I had better follow you home." He then ordered
his troops to leave the city.
Consequently, historians attribute the success of these peace negotiations
entirely to Tzyy and Hua. Tzyy and Hua had official titles. Why does Confucius
call them private citizens? This is because Confucius mocks them. Why does
Confucius mock them? This is because they took the liberty to negotiate peace as
two honest men without approval from their kings.
Gau Gong-Yang was a student of Tzyy-Shiah who had been a disciple of
Confucius. The body of knowledge found in Gong-Yang’s Interpretation of
Spring-Fall was passed down orally from Tzyy-Shiah to Gau Gong-Yang; from
Gau to his son, Pyng; from Pyng to his son, Dih; from Dih to his son, Gaan; from
Gaan to his son, Show. During the reign of King Jiing in the Han dynasty, Show
Gong-Yang and Hu-Wu compiled the material into book form.