The Art of War

by

Sun-tzu

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The Men Character Analysis

The state of the men in the army—that is, the regular soldiers and peripheral support—are a gauge of the general’s ability to lead. If the general is strong, wise and steady, the men will be loyal, courageous, and hardworking, with good morale. If they are lazy, weak, or cowardly, the general is at fault for not training and commanding them effectively. Master Sun also offers various tactics to ensure the men do not flee in battle, something that seems to be a particular issue in his era.

The Men Quotes in The Art of War

The The Art of War quotes below are all either spoken by The Men or refer to The Men. 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 2 Quotes

In War,
Victory should be
Swift.
If victory is slow,
Men tire,
Morale sags.
Sieges
Exhaust strength;
Protracted campaigns
Strain the public treasury.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men
Page Number: 9-10
Explanation and Analysis:

I have heard that in war
Haste can be
Folly
But have never seen
Delay that was
Wise.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men, The People
Page Number: 10
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

A rushing torrent
Carries boulders
On its flood;
Such is the energy
Of its momentum.

A swooping falcon
Breaks the back
Of its prey;
Such is the precision
Of its timing.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men
Related Symbols: Water, Animals
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Skillfully deployed soldiers
Are like round boulders
Rolling down
A mighty mountainside.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

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:
Chapter 10 Quotes

He regards his troops
As his children,
And they will go with him
Into the deepest ravine.
He regards them
As his loved ones,
And they will stand by him
Unto death.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

It is the business of the general
To be still
And inscrutable,
To be upright
And impartial.
He must be able
To keep his own troops
In ignorance,
To deceive their eyes
And their ears.

Related Characters: Master Sun (Sun-Tzu) (speaker), The General, The Men
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Art of War LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Art of War PDF

The Men Character Timeline in The Art of War

The timeline below shows where the character The Men 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
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...and death, survival and extinction, and is something to be carefully considered. There are five fundamental aspects to be considered when preparing for war: the Way, heaven, earth, command, and discipline.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...weak then fan his pride. If he is at ease, then fluster him. If his men are united, divide them. Attack him where he doesn’t see it coming and show up... (full context)
Chapter 2
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
...army with 1,000 chariots pulled by four horses, with 1,000 wagons armored with hide, 100,000 men with mail armor, and supplies for 400 miles, as well as costs back home and... (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
Winning a war should be done quickly. If it takes a long time, the men get tired and disheartened. Sieges take a lot of energy and effort, and drawn-out campaigns... (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
The skilled general never hires reinforcements, or ships supplies around repeatedly. He carries equipment from the home base, but plunders from... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...worn-out. The common people lose 70% of their wealth, and the treasury 60%, with the men, equipment, and animals all exhausted. So, the wise general plunders from the enemy, as supplies... (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
...from seeking reward. In chariot warfare, if more than ten enemy chariots are taken, the man who took the first should be rewarded. The captured enemy chariots should be mixed in... (full context)
Chapter 3
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
In sieges, it takes three months to create the defenses and equipment, another three months to build mud ramps. An angry general sends one in three men... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
...long drawn-out conflict. He aims for a total victory under heaven without loss, with his men and equipment whole. (full context)
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...an army. Disrupting military decisions despite a lack of knowledge confuses the officers and the men, as does interfering in the promotions process. If such confusion arises it gives the enemy... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...to not, knowing how to deploy an army of any size, having united officers and men, being prepared for surprises, and having a general who can make his own decisions without... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Master Sun says leading many men is the same as leading a few. It is about how you divide them.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...about good organization. Being valiant amid fear is about harnessing the potential energy of the moment. Creating strength from weakness is about working with the men’s temperament and ability. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...hit him hard. The general takes advantage of the situation and does not blame the men. He uses them to the best of their ability, but it is about reacting to... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
By understanding the situation, the general sends his men out like logs or stones rolling down a hill. They do not roll by their... (full context)
Chapter 6
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...enemy is divided into ten but the general attacks with his full force. Attack fewer men with a larger force, and so the enemy is weak. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
If the troops of Yue have many men but that will not help them in the battle, then victory is still possible.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Master Sun says the ruler gives orders to the general, who assembles the men and an army. He makes camp opposite the enemy. The real work comes with the... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...force into the fray but lose. If you abandon the camp you might lose the equipment. Forced marches over 30 miles lead to losing the officers—this will separate the weak from... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
The whole army can be disheartened. The general can lose his cool. The men are sharpest in the morning, slower by noon, and miss home in the evening. The... (full context)
Chapter 8
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Master Sun says the ruler gives orders to the general, who assembles the men and an army. Do not make camp on intractable terrain. Meet up with allies on... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...the five gains but not the nine changes, he cannot get the most from his men. (full context)
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...caught. Anger leads to being easily baited. An overly sensitive sense of honor leads to embarrassment. Misplaced compassion for his men leads to trouble. These five excesses are not conducive to... (full context)
Chapter 9
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
...Offers of peace but no terms indicates deception. A lot of activity indicates expectation. Some men advancing and others retreating indicate they are laying bait. (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Soldiers bent over their spears are hungry. If the water bearers are drinking first, the army... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
If the officers are often angry, the men tire. If they are feeding meat to the men and grain to the horses, if... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
If the general swings from being tyrannical to being in terror of his men, he is incompetent. Envoys with words of peace want to end hostilities. Ongoing, fierce warfare... (full context)
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
If you discipline the men before they are loyal, they will be hard to manage, but if you don’t discipline... (full context)
Chapter 10
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...the enemy’s bait or move, but retreat to draw him out. When half of his men are out, strike. Enclosed terrain calls for getting there first. Block it and wait for... (full context)
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...but one is much larger, the result is flight. When officers are weak although the men are strong, this leads to impotence. If officers are strong but the men weak, this... (full context)
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...his lord, and be called the jewel of the realm. The good general sees his men as his children. They will go with him wherever and face death beside him. If... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 11
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 hard to regroup. Move when... (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... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
When men are desperate, they know no fear. They stand their ground when they cannot escape. They... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Do not allow the men to consult omens. Remove all doubts and they will follow you to their deaths. They... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
The skillful general sends out his men like the shuairan snake that defends each part of its body with another, thrashing about.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
...on the principle of ground. The skillful general leads an army like it is one man. There is no choice but to obey. The general must be morally outstanding. He must... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
The general leads the men into battle, taking away any escape routes before releasing the trigger. He is like a... (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... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
On scattering ground, unite the men. On light ground, connect them. Bring up the rear on strategic ground. Man the defenses... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Reward the men and give orders fairly. Treat the army as one man and do not give explanations.... (full context)
Chapter 12
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
Master Sun says when attacking by fire, there are five ways to do it, burning men, supplies, equipment, warehouses, and lines of communication. You must have the means and the material.... (full context)
Yin and Yang Theme Icon
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
War as a Means to Protect Peace Theme Icon
The Responsibility of Authority Theme Icon
Anger and spite can subside to joy, but once a nation or men are destroyed, they cannot be rebuilt. Rulers must be prudent and generals cautious. This is... (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
Master Sun says waging large-scale war with 100,000 men costs the people and the nation 1,000 silver taels a day. It causes chaos everywhere... (full context)
Taking the Path of Least Resistance Theme Icon
...and triumph. It brings them uncommon success. This type of knowledge cannot be gained from omens. It can only be gained from men who know the enemy. There are five types... (full context)