Bring on the dancing girls

齊人歸女樂,季桓子受之,三日不朝,孔子行。
The people of the state of Qi sent a troupe of singing and dancing girls as a gift to the state of Lu. Ji Huanzi accepted them and, for three days, he did not attend court. Confucius left.

This incident is said to have triggered Confucius’s decision to leave the state of Lu and go into exile in 497 BC. Confucius was allegedly so appalled that the head of the Ji family (and the de facto ruler of his home state of Lu) spent three days away from the serious business of government to cavort with the singing and dancing girls sent by the ruler of the neighboring state of Qi that he felt he had no choice but to resign from the position he then held at court.

Another, more plausible explanation, is that Confucius lost out in an internal power struggle and used the incident as a pretext to get the hell out of Dodge, so to speak. Whatever the real reason, Confucius and his disciples had an extremely miserable time during their years of wandering the nearby states in search of employment, nearly starving to death on at least one occasion.

If indeed Confucius did leave the state of Lu on a point of principle, he (and his poor disciples) paid a heavy price for it. If, on the other hand, he fled for political reasons he did at least manage to preserve his life.

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