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淫之以色,啗之以利,養之以味,娛之以樂 is a sentence from 六韜 (six secret teachings), a book about strategies. There are 4 lines each containing 4 characters and the same pattern: A 之以 B, wherein A and B are semantically related.

Could you give a translation and maybe an annotation on the grammatical structure?

  • 娛之以樂 = 以樂之娛 = pleasure comes from music. – user4452 Oct 17 '15 at 18:53
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之 = third person pronoun (it/him/her)

以 = with or indicating an indirect object

Verb 之以 Noun = VERB him with NOUN

In context, 淫之以色,啗之以利,养之以味,娱之以乐 means (a very rough translation) "(sexually) seduce him with sexy (women), lure him with benefit, accustom him with delicious food and amuse him with (obscene) music". It is included in a strategy saying that if you want to destroy your enemy nation, you need to first deceive (as in making him unable to make right decisions) the king then attack the military for the betterment of people. The sentence is detailing (figuratively) how you deceive the leader of enemy nation.

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