The phoenix and the river

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子曰:「鳳鳥不至,河不出圖,吾已矣乎!」
Confucius said: “The Phoenix does not come, the River issues no signs. It’s over for me!”

With this lament, Confucius comes to the final realization that he has failed to achieve his dream of being the successor to his hero, the Duke of Zhou.

The appearance of the legendary phoenix and magic signs from the Yellow River were believed to be heavenly omens marking the imminent arrival of a new sage king. Sadly for Confucius, they never came calling for him.

Confucius is said to have spoken these words at the age of seventy-one, a couple of years before his death in 479 BC.

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