When Acquaintances Met in A Battlefield

A war is cruel anytime. What will a person do when he recognizes his antagonist is the person who has been close with him in the past? There is a dilemma.

In 559 BC, Wei Xian-Gong, a monarch of Wei State, was expelled because he treated his ministers irreverently. Sun Linfu, an influential minister who led the coup, sent Yingong Tuo and Yugong Chai to pursuit Wei Xian-Gong. Gongsun Ding, a relative of the monarch, drove the chariot for Xian-Gong.

In the past, Yugong Chai learned archery from Gongsun Ding, and Yingong Tuo learned archery from Yugong Chai. So at this time, when they met, there was a dilemma. Yugong Chai said, “If I shoot them, I will betray my teacher. But if I don’t shoot, I will be punished. Let me do the shooting rite.” Then he shot the two sides of the yoke of the monarch’s chariot, so no one could censure him to practice favoritism because he really shot them, but his archery was bad. He said to Yingong Tuo, “Now we can return.” Yingong Tuo understood his teacher’s heart, but he wanted to obey the order of Sun Linfu. So he said to Yugong Chai, “You did so for your teacher, but the relations of he and me are remote.” So he shot at the monarch, but did inexactly. Gongsun Ding found it was Yingong Tuo. He gave the bridle to Wei Xian-Gong, and shot at Yingong Tuo. Yingong Tuo had not enough time to dodge, and his left arm was penetrated by the arrow.

In 521 BC, there was a violent battle between the army of Song Yuan-Gong who was the monarch of Song State and the rebel army of Hua family. The war was a civil war originally, but the both sides requested reinforcements from other states. The army of Wu State went to support Hua family, but Song Yuan-Gong got more military aid from four states Qi, Jin, Wei and Cao. The Hua family was a strong family and was known in other states, so they had actual strength to confront the supporters of the monarch. Many armymen of both sides were acquaintances or friends in the past. When they met in the battlefield, what would they do?

Hua Bao, Gan Chou and Zhang Gai were family-ministers of Hua family. In this battle, Gan Chou drove the chariot for Hua Bao, and Zhang Gai was the aide. They met Gongzi Cheng who was a brother of Song Yuan-Gong. Gongzi Cheng didn’t want to fight against them, and he wanted to leave. But Hua Bao called to him, “Cheng!” Maybe the young man was familiar with Gingzi Cheng, but in the battlefield, he wanted to fight. So he provoked purposely Gongzi Cheng by calling his name, because it was discourteous to call a person’s name directly at that time. Then Gongzi was angry, and wanted to shoot Hua Bao. But when he put an arrow on the bow, he saw that Hua Bao had drawn his bow, so he dodged and cried, “The soul of my ancestor Ping-Gong is blessing me.” Hua Bao’s arrow didn’t shoot him. When Gongzi Cheng put an arrow on the bow again, he saw Hua Bao had drawn his bow again. Gongzi Cheng was very angry, and taunted Hua Bao, “How unashamed! I disdain you!” Because people advocated fair duels at that time, Hua Bao decided to give Gongzi Cheng a chance. So he removed the arrow which was put on his bow. But at this time, Gongzi Cheng took advantage of the occasion and shot at Hua Bao. Hua Bao had not enough time to dodge, so he was shot and died.

Zhang Gai held a long pole and jumped down the chariot, but he was hurt by the arrow of Gongzi Cheng and couldn’t stand up. He endured pain, and held the pole to strike the chariot of Gongzi Cheng. At last he was killed by the arrow of Gongzi Cheng. Gan Chou knew he was no match for Gongzi Cheng. So he requested Gongzi Cheng to kill him by an arrow. Gongzi Cheng said commiseratingly to Gan Chou, “I will beg the monarch to forgive you.” Gan Chou said, “It is a heavy transgression of military law that an warrior doesn’t die in the last ditch. If I contravene the law and follow you, how will the monarch treat me? Please shoot soon.” Gongzi Cheng didn’t want to see Gan Chou lives discreditably, so he shot and killed Gan Chou.

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