The Art of War

by

Sun-tzu

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The Enemy Character Analysis

The antagonist in The Art of War, the faceless enemy is (according to the principle of Yin and Yang) the counterbalancing force to the general. The leaders of the opposing armies are locked in a battle of wills and wisdom, as the two seek to outwit and outmaneuver each other in a desperate bid to emerge victorious. Master Sun advises knowing the enemy as well as one knows oneself, in order to identify their weaknesses and devise a successful strategy to defeat them. Of course, the enemy is most probably doing the same, which is where spies come in handy.

The Enemy Quotes in The Art of War

The The Art of War quotes below are all either spoken by The Enemy or refer to The Enemy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Art of War published in 2002.
Chapter 1 Quotes

The Way of War is
A Way of Deception.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Ultimate excellence lies
Not in winning
Every battle
But in defeating the enemy
Without ever fighting.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

So it is said:
"Know the enemy,
Know yourself,
And victory
Is never in doubt,
Not in a hundred battles."

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

A victorious army
Is like
Pent-up water
Crashing
A thousand fathoms
Into a gorge.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy, The Men
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

In the dynamics of War,
There are but these two-
Indirect
And direct-
And yet their permutations
Are inexhaustible.
They give rise to each other
In a never-ending,
Inexhaustible circle.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

The Skillful Warrior attacks
So that the enemy
Cannot defend;
He defends
So that the enemy
Cannot attack.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy, Spies
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

His form is visible,
But I am
Formless;
I am concentrated,
He is divided.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Military dispositions
Take form like water.
Water shuns the high
And hastens to the low.
War shuns the strong
And attacks the weak.
Water shapes its current
From the lie of the land.
The warrior shapes his victory
From the dynamic of the enemy.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy, The Men
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 37-38
Explanation and Analysis:

War has no
Constant dynamic;
Water has no
Constant form.
Supreme military skill lies
In deriving victory
From the changing circumstances
Of the enemy.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

The difficulty of the fray
Lies in making
The crooked
Straight
And in making
An advantage
Of misfortune.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

To the question
"How should we confront
An enemy,
Numerous and well arrayed,
Poised to attack?"
My reply is
"Seize something
He cherishes,
And he will do your will."

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 72-73
Explanation and Analysis:

Success in war
Lies in
Scrutinizing
Enemy intentions.
And going with them.
Focus on the enemy,
And from hundreds of miles
You can kill their general.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

At first,
Be like a maiden;
When the enemy opens the door,
Be swift as a hare;
Your enemy will not
Withstand you.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy
Related Symbols: Animals
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

It is therefore callous
To begrudge the expense of
A hundred taels
Of silver
For knowledge
Of the enemy's situation.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Enemy, Spies
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Art of War LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Art of War PDF

The Enemy Character Timeline in The Art of War

The timeline below shows where the character The Enemy appears in The Art of War. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...should appear to be far when it is near, and vice versa. Draw out the enemy with bait and hit him with chaos. If the enemy is full then be prepared,... (full context)
Chapter 2
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...and drawn-out campaigns stretch the nation’s finances. If both men and treasury are exhausted, the enemy will use the opportunity to attack. No wisdom can see an army through that situation.... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...ships supplies around repeatedly. He carries equipment from the home base, but plunders from the enemy so his men do not hunger. Supplying the army from home stretches the nation’s finances... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...with the men, equipment, and animals all exhausted. So, the wise general plunders from the enemy, as supplies taken in enemy territory are worth twenty times as much as that hauled... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Killing an enemy comes from anger and plundering comes from seeking reward. In chariot warfare, if more than... (full context)
Chapter 3
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
...it whole than raze it to the ground. It is also better to keep the enemy’s men alive. True greatness comes from winning wars without even fighting. The greatest form of... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...in three men to their deaths fighting sieges. The men die like ants yet the enemy’s city is not taken. This is the disaster that is siege warfare. (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The most skilled general takes the enemy without even fighting, takes the city without a siege, and defeats the enemy nation without... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
This is how to attack. If your forces outnumber the enemy ten to one, surround them. At five to one, attack. At two to one, divide... (full context)
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...men, as does interfering in the promotions process. If such confusion arises it gives the enemy an opportunity, creating chaos and defeat. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...ruler interfering. These five things bring about victory. From this comes the saying, knowing the enemy and oneself brings undoubted victory in 100 battles. If you know yourself but not the... (full context)
Chapter 4
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...says the skilled general of old first ensures his own strength, then waits for the enemy’s weakness. His strength is his responsibility and the enemy’s weakness is the enemy’s responsibility, never... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...or honor. His victories are flawless, because they are inevitable. He beats an already defeated enemy. He takes strong ground and pounces on every opportunity. Victorious armies don’t seek out battles... (full context)
Chapter 5
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Different combinations of direct and indirect action can hold off the enemy. By understanding strength and weakness an army can crush an enemy like a stone crushing... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Give the enemy a target and they will take the bait. Draw out the enemy and then hit... (full context)
Chapter 6
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...when they want to, and are not forced to move. But they lure out the enemy and block his movement. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...he must follow you and where he least expects. By taking paths that avoid the enemy, you can march 100 miles without tiring. Attacking an undefended place ensures victory. Defend the... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The enemy cannot withstand a skillful general’s attack, or attack that which he defends. It is a... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
If the general wants to engage the enemy in battle, he cannot be avoided, no matter their defenses. The general attacks what the... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The general can see the enemy but the enemy cannot know him. The general is concentrated but the enemy is spread... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The enemy must not know where the general intends to hit. He has to defend many places... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
Having to defend creates weakness, whereas making the enemy have to defend creates strength. If the general knows the time and place of attack,... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...not help them in the battle, then victory is still possible. Study and know the enemy—know his plans and their weaknesses. Know what makes him move and know what is life... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...one. Water travels according to the lay of the land. Armies act according to the enemy’s circumstances. Both war and water have no constant form or energy. The greatest warriors create... (full context)
Chapter 7
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...to the general, who assembles the men and an army. He makes camp opposite the enemy. The real work comes with the battle itself. The difficulty is in making the crooked... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
Without equipment, provisions, and stores, the army is lost. Without knowing your enemy’s plans you cannot form alliances. If you don’t know the terrain you cannot march. Without... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...This is mastering change. The axioms of war are to not attack uphill nor an enemy with a hill to his back. Do not fall for a fake retreat. Do not... (full context)
Chapter 8
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Some roads should be avoided, as should some enemies. Some towns should not be besieged, and some types of terrain should not be fought... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...can be successful. By not focusing on harm, he can avoid disaster. He causes his enemy to surrender by harming him. The general keeps him busy to tire him. He distracts... (full context)
Chapter 9
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
Master Sun says, when choosing positions and taking on the enemy, stay close to valleys when crossing mountains. Set up camp high and face the open.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...get out as quickly as you can. Keep away and do not enter. Let the enemy go there and have them at his rear. If you must march through hard to... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
If an enemy is near but does not attack, he has strong ground. If he is far and... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
...are hungry. If the water bearers are drinking first, the army is thirsty. If the enemy does not take an opportunity, they are exhausted. The ground is empty if birds are... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...Numbers do not matter in war. It is all about concentrating your energy, knowing the enemy and earning the loyalty of the men. Underestimate the enemy and you will be captured. (full context)
Chapter 10
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...has the advantage. Entangling means advancing is an option but retreating is hard. If the enemy is unprepared, attack, but it will be hard to retreat if necessary. (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
On deadlock terrain there is no advantage for either side. Do not fall for the enemy’s bait or move, but retreat to draw him out. When half of his men are... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
On precipitous terrain, if you arrive first, take the high ground. If the enemy gets the high ground, lure him out by retreating. If strengths are equal on distant... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...the general is weak and inconsistent, the result is chaos. If the general underestimates the enemy and pits a smaller force against a larger one, there will be rout. These are... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
If the general knows his own men can advance but does not see that the enemy is not vulnerable, victory is uncertain. If the enemy is vulnerable but the general’s men... (full context)
Chapter 11
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
Master Sun says there are nine kinds of ground. Enemies fighting on the home turf is scattering ground. Entering enemy land but not deeply is... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The skillful general divides the enemy army, and stops their men from supporting each other. When they are separated, it is... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
When invading, penetrate deeply to bring cohesion among the men, and the enemy will lose. Plunder to feed the men. Conserve your energy. Do not reveal your plans,... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...each part of its body with another, thrashing about. Armies can be like that. Even enemy forces, if stuck together on a boat in a storm, will help each other to... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...must keep his plans from his men. He must also change his methods so the enemy cannot know him. He moves around to confuse them. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The men draw together when invading deep into enemy territory, but they scatter in shallow territory. It is dire terrain across the enemy border.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
You can’t make alliances if you do not know the enemy’s plans. If you do not know the terrain you cannot move. With no local guides... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
Being successful hinges on knowing and reacting to the enemy’s movements. You can kill the enemy general from a great distance if focused. It is... (full context)
Chapter 12
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The are five changes to adapt to. If an enemy camp breaks out with fire, attack immediately. If the enemy remains calm, do not attack,... (full context)
Chapter 13
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...How then can a general begrudge the smaller cost of paying for knowledge of his enemy? Such a general is no friend to his men or ruler, and cannot master victory. (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...cannot be gained from omens. It can only be gained from men who know the enemy. There are five types of spies: local, internal, double, dead, and live. All of these... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
When attacking a city or killing someone, the general must know the names of the enemy’s general, servants, and staff. The spies must know to collect all this information in detail.... (full context)