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 someone’s 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 secret?"     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 return home."     Defense Minister Tzyy said, "Then you stay here. Let me go home, please." "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.