Han Xin

Chinese general
Artist's impression of Han Xin (1921)

Han Xin (died 196 BC) was a military general who served Liu Bang (Emperor Gaozu of Han) during the Chu–Han Contention and contributed greatly to the founding of the Han dynasty. Han Xin was named as one of the "Three Heroes of the early Han dynasty" (漢初三傑), along with Zhang Liang and Xiao He.

Quotes about Han XinEdit

  • 淮陰屠中少年有侮信者,曰:「若雖長大,好帶刀劍,中情怯耳。」眾辱之曰:「信能死,刺我;不能死,出我袴下。」於是信孰視之,俛出袴下,蒲伏。一市人皆笑信,以為怯。
    • There was a young man among the butchers in Huai-yin who insulted [Han] Hsin by saying, “Although you are tall and large and like to wear knives and swords, you are cowardly inside.” He humiliated him in public by saying, “If you are truly willing to die, stab me; if you are not willing to die, crawl between my legs.” At this [Han] Hsin looked at him closely, bent down, and crawled through his legs. Everyone in the market laughed at Han Hsin and considered him a coward.
      • Sima Qian, translation by ‎Wang Jing, in The Grand Scribe’s Records, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr.
    • 淮陰侯列傳
  • 諸將效首虜,(休)畢賀,因問信曰:「兵法右倍山陵,前左水澤,今者將軍令臣等反背水陳,曰破趙會食,臣等不服。然竟以勝,此何術也?」信曰:「此在兵法,顧諸君不察耳。兵法不曰『陷之死地而後生,置之亡地而後存』?且信非得素拊循士大夫也,此所謂『驅市人而戰之』,其勢非置之死地,使人人自為戰;今予之生地,皆走,寧尚可得而用之乎!」諸將皆服曰:「善。非臣所及也。」
    • After the various commanders presented the heads [of the enemies] and the captives, they all offered their congratulations. They took the advantage to ask [Han] Hsin and said, “The Art of War says ‘keep the hills to your right and your back; keep the waters to the front or at your left.’’ Now you, General, on the contrary ordered your subjects to draw up in array with our backs against the river and said, ‘We will defeat Chao and feast together.’ Your servants were not convinced. However, we won with this in the end. What strategy was this?” [Han] Hsin said, “This is in The Art of War, however, you gentlemen did not notice it. Doesn’t The Art of War say ‘They will survive after being trapped in a fatal situation and will live on after being placed in a hopeless position? Furthermore, I do not have well-trained officers. This is what is called ‘Drive the street rabble and have them fight.’ The circumstances were that I had to put them in a fatal situation and made every person fight for his life. If I had put them in a safe situation, they would have had already run away. How could they have been held and employed?” The various commanders were all convinced and said, “Well put. It is of [a level] that we could not reach.”
      • Sima Qian, translation by ‎Wang Jing, in The Grand Scribe’s Records, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr.
    • On Battle of Jingxing
    • 淮陰侯列傳
  • 召辱己之少年令出胯下者以為楚中尉。告諸將相曰:「此壯士也。方辱我時,我寧不能殺之邪?殺之無名,故忍而就於此。」
    • He summoned the young man who humiliated him and ordered to go through between his legs, and appointed him to be Commandant of the Capital of Ch’u. He told the various commanders and chancellors, “This is a brave man. While he was humiliating me, could I not have killed him? If I had killed him, I would have no fame. For this reason, I endured it and got to this position.”
      • Sima Qian, translation by ‎Wang Jing, in The Grand Scribe’s Records, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr.
    • 淮陰侯列傳
  • 上常從容與信言諸將能不,各有差。上問曰:「如我能將幾何?」信曰:「陛下不過能將十萬。」上曰:「於君何如?」曰:「臣多多而益善耳。」上笑曰:「多多益善,何為為我禽?」信曰:「陛下不能將兵,而善將將,此乃言之所以為陛下禽也。且陛下所謂天授,非人力也。」
    • The Emperor was once casually talking with Han Hsin about the capabilities of various commanders. Each had a difference. The Sovereign asked, "How many [soldiers] can a person like me command?" [Han] Hsin said, "Your Majesty can command no more than ten thousand." The Sovereign said, "How about for you?" [Han Hsin] said, "For your servant, the more, the better." The Sovereign laughed and said, "If the more, the better, why were you taken captive by me?" [Han] Hsin said, "Your Majesty cannot command the troops, but is good at commanding the commanders. This is why [Han] Hsin was taken captive by Your Majesty. Furthermore, Your Majesty's [power] could be said to be bestowed by Heaven. It is not human power."
      • Sima Qian, translation by ‎Wang Jing, in The Grand Scribe’s Records, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr.
    • 淮陰侯列傳
  • 吾如淮陰,淮陰人為余言,韓信雖為布衣時,其志與眾異。其母死,貧無以葬,然乃行營高敞地,令其旁可置萬家。余視其母冢,良然。假令韓信學道謙讓,不伐己功,不矜其能,則庶幾哉,於漢家勳可以比周、召、太公之徒,後世血食矣。不務出此,而天下已集,乃謀畔逆,夷滅宗族,不亦宜乎!
    • I went to Huai-yin. The people of Huai-yin said to me that even at the time when Han Hsin was a commoner, his ambition was different from many others. His mother died, he was poor and had no means to bury her. However, he then went to build up a high and dry piece of land, allowing alongside [space] in which ten thousand families could be placed. I looked at his mother’s tomb and it was exactly so. If Han Hsin had studied the way to be modest and had not bragged about his merits or boasted about his abilities, then it is almost to the point that his services to the Han family could be compared to people such as [Duke] Chou 周, [Duke] Shao 召 and T’ai_kung 太公, and his posterity [could have enjoyed the sacrifices of] blood and flesh. He did not strive [to leam] from these men, and when the world had already been united, he then plotted to rebel and turn against [the Han]. Is it not appropriate that his lineage and clans were exterminated and destroyed!
      • Sima Qian, translation by ‎Wang Jing, in The Grand Scribe’s Records, edited by William H. Nienhauser, Jr.
    • 淮陰侯列傳

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