Zhi, the grand music master, left for Qi. Guan, musician for the second course, left for Chu. Liao, musician for the third course, left for Cai. Que, musician for the fourth course, left for Qin. Fangshi, the drummer, crossed the river. Wu, the hand drummer, crossed the Han River. Yang, the grand music master’s deputy, and Xiang, who played the stone chimes, crossed the sea.
In all likelihood this chapter was added to the original text of the Analects at a later date. The musicians listed are believed to have worked at the court of Duke Ai, who was the ruler of the state of the Lu at the time of Confucius’s death. Like their counterparts during the collapse of the Shang dynasty, they are said to have fled the court in despair at the corruption and depravity of their ruler.
By extension, perhaps, the departure of the musicians could be taken to symbolize the death of Confucius himself: without the wise guidance of the sage, how could Duke Ai possibly be expected to rule in the proper way?