Well, I don’t know where to start from since I’m starting this blog in the middle of my studying instead of at the beginning, so I guess I’ll just start from where I’m at now.
Well, literally, 孰与 makes it a question. “Compared to this, how is that?” But, we all know which is better, so it is, in practice, a euphemistic exhortation. Phrases like this really remind me of English more than Japanese, which is funny since it’s a 漢字圏 language (THE 漢字圏 language, really). But, for example, in “Which is better, sitting on your butt waiting to get hit or making the first strike?”, you see that (classical) Chinese may have a lot in common with modern English in more than just word order.
In classical Chinese, metaphors and allegories are commonplace (which is partially why it’s so hard to understand). Thus, while this example seems to be the pre-Christ equivalent of “kill or be killed,” it may have just been used to convince an ancient Chinese Romeo to go after his Juliet before someone else went after her.
Anyway, some questions about 坐而待伐、孰与伐人之利.
1. 坐而 is translated as 坐して. Can it be 坐りながらにして? I suspect yes.
2. 待伐 is 伐たるるを待つ. This is a common frustration in 漢文, but even with no indicators of passive voice (見、被、所、為、遇), it is in the passive voice. Why do you do this to me?
3. 伐人之利 is 人を伐つの利なる. I have issues with the 伐つ之. It’s common in 漢文 to stick a の on a verb in this kind of construction, and I can see why since it is a possessive clause. But, is it necessary to use it in the translation? 訳さなくてもいいじゃないのぅぅ
1. 「孰与」 is read 「いずれぞ」, but 「いずれぞ」 only applies to 「孰」. 「与」 has no meaning and is just there for fun.
2. This 「而」 tells you that the verb before it is 連用形, that is it’s just there to break up two verb clauses. Here, it is read 「にして」.
（BTW with 返り点, it looks like 坐而待レ伐、孰二－与伐レ人之利一 that. Completely unreadable, amirite? So, no 返り点 on this blog til I can figure out subscripts.)