Analects of Confucius Book 5: new English translation

Read this new English translation of the Analects of Confucius Book 5 to learn more about the teachings of China’s most famous philosopher. It provides colorful insights into the characters and abilities of many of Confucius’s followers as well as other contemporary and historical figures.

Chapter 1
子謂公冶長,「可妻也。雖在縲絏之中,非其罪也。」以其子妻之。
Confucius said of Gongye Chang: “He would make a good husband. Although he has spent time in prison, he was innocent.” He gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Chapter 2
子謂南容,「邦有道不廢,邦無道免於刑戮。」以其兄之子妻之。
Confucius said of Nan Rong: “In a well-governed state, he will not be overlooked for an official position. In a badly-governed state, he will avoid punishment and disgrace.” Confucius arranged for him to marry his niece.

Chapter 3
子謂子賤,「君子哉若人!魯無君子者,斯焉取斯?」
Confucius said of Zijian: “He is a true leader! If there were indeed no leaders in the state of Lu, how would he have reached this level?”

Chapter 4
子貢問曰:「賜也何如?」子曰:「女器也。」曰:「何器也?」曰:「瑚璉也。」
Zigong asked: “What do you think of me?” Confucius said: “You’re a vessel.” “What sort of vessel?” “A precious sacrificial vessel.”

Chapter 5
或曰:「雍也仁而不佞。」子曰:「焉用佞?御人以口給,屢憎於人。不知其仁,焉用佞?」
Someone said: “Ran Yong is good but not eloquent.” Confucius said: “What use is eloquence? A smooth tongue creates many enemies. I don’t know whether Ran Yong is good; but he definitely has no need for eloquence.”

Chapter 6
子使漆雕開仕。對曰:「吾斯之未能信。」子說。
When Confucius recommended that Qidiao Kai should seek an official position, he replied: “I’m not ready to be trusted for such a responsibility yet.” Confucius was delighted.

Chapter 7
子曰:「道不行,乘桴浮於海。從我者,其由與?」子路聞之喜。子曰:「由也好勇過我,無所取材。」
Confucius said: “If the way doesn’t prevail, I’ll take a raft and put out to sea. I’m sure Zilu will come with me.” When he heard this, Zilu was delighted. Confucius said: “Zilu is much braver than I am, but he brings no materials to make the raft with.”

Chapter 8
孟武伯問:「子路仁乎?」子曰:「不知也。」又問。子曰:「由也,千乘之國,可使治其賦也,不知其仁也。」「求也何如?」子曰:「求也,千室之邑,百乘之家,可使為之宰也,不知其仁也。」「赤也何如?」子曰:「赤也,束帶立於朝,可使與賓客言也,不知其仁也。」
Meng Wubo asked “Is Zilu a good person?” Confucius said: “I don’t know.” When he asked once again, Confucius said: “In a middle-sized country, he could be entrusted with military recruitment. But whether he’s a good person, I don’t know.” “And what about Ran Qiu?” Confucius said: “Ran Qiu? He could be the mayor of a small city or the manager of a large estate. But whether he’s a good person, I don’t know.” “And what about Gongxi Chi?” Confucius said: “Gongxi Chi? Standing resplendent with his sash, he could entertain distinguished guests. But whether he’s a good person, I don’t know.”

Chapter 9
子謂子貢曰:「女與回也,孰愈?」對曰:「賜也,何敢望回?回也,聞一以知十,賜也聞一知二。」子曰:「弗如也,吾與女,弗如也。」
Confucius asked Zigong: “Who is better, you or Yan Hui?” Zigong replied: “How can I compare myself with Yan Hui? When he learns one thing, he gets to understand ten more things; but if I learn one thing, I only get to understand two more things.” Confucius said: “You’re certainly not his equal and neither am I.”

Chapter 10
宰予晝寢。子曰:「朽木不可雕也,糞土之牆不可杇也。於予與何誅?」子曰:「始吾於人也,聽其言而信其行;今吾於人也,聽其言而觀其行。於予與改是。」
Zai Yu was asleep during the day. Confucius said: “Rotten wood cannot be carved; dung walls cannot be troweled. What’s the point of scolding him anymore?” Confucius said: “There was a time when I used to listen to what people had to say and trusted that they would act on their word, but now I have to listen to what they say and watch what they do. It’s my dealings with Zai Yu that have forced me to change.”

Chapter 11
子曰:「吾未見剛者。」或對曰:「申棖。」子曰:「棖也慾,焉得剛?」
Confucius said: “I’ve never seen a person who is truly resolute.” Someone replied: “How about Shen Cheng?” Confucius said: “Shen Cheng is a slave to his desires. How can he be called resolute?”

Chapter 12
子貢曰:「我不欲人之加諸我也,吾亦欲無加諸人。」子曰:「賜也,非爾所及也。」
Zigong said: “I wouldn’t want to do to others what I wouldn’t want them to do to me.” Confucius said: “Ah, Zigong! That’s beyond your reach.”

Chapter 13
子貢曰:「夫子之文章,可得而聞也;夫子之言性與天道,不可得而聞也。」
Zigong said: “The teachings of the master can be learned; but his views on the nature of things and the way of heaven can’t be learned.”

Chapter 14
子路有聞,未之能行,唯恐有聞。
Whenever Zilu learned something new but hadn’t had the chance to put it into practice, he was afraid that he might learn something else before he did so. 

Chapter 15
子貢問曰:「孔文子何以謂之文也?」子曰:「敏而好學,不恥下問,是以謂之文也。」
Zigong asked: “Why was ‘Kong-the-Refined’ given the posthumous name of ‘Refined’?” Confucius said: “He was smart, fond of learning, and wasn’t ashamed to listen and learn from people of a lower social status: that is why he was given the name.”

Chapter 16
子謂子產有君子之道四焉:其行己也恭,其事上也敬,其養民也惠,其使民也義。
Confucius said of Zichan: “He had four essential qualities of a leader: in his personal conduct he was gracious; in serving his superiors he was respectful; in caring for the common people he was generous; in employing them for public service he was just.”

Chapter 17
子曰:「晏平仲善與人交,久而敬之。」
Confucius said: “Yan Pingzhong was adept at cultivating relationships with other people: the longer he knew them, the greater the respect they would show towards him.”

Chapter 18
子曰:「藏文仲居蔡,山節藻梲,何如其知也?」
Confucius said: “Zang Wenzhong kept a giant tortoise in a pavilion featuring pillars patterned with mountains and posts above the rafters decorated with duckweed motifs. What does this say of his wisdom?”

Chapter 19
子張問曰:「令尹子文三仕為令尹,無喜色;三已之,無慍色。舊令尹之政,必以告新令尹。何如?」子曰:「忠矣。」曰:「仁矣乎?」曰:「未知,焉得仁!」「崔子弒齊君,陳文子有馬十乘,棄而違之。至於他邦,則曰,『猶吾大夫崔子也。』違之,之一邦,則又曰:『猶吾大夫崔子也。』違之。何如?」子曰:「清矣。」曰:「仁矣乎?」子曰:「未知,焉得仁?」
Zizhang asked: “Ziwen was appointed chief minister three times, but he never showed the least sign of elation. He was dismissed three times, but he never showed the least sign of disappointment. On each occasion, he briefed his successor on the status of the affairs of his office. What do you think of him?” Confucius said: “He was loyal.” Zizhang asked: “Was he a good person?” Confucius said: “I’m not sure; how can he be said to be a good person?”

“When Cuizi assassinated the ruler of the state of Qi, Chen Wenzi abandoned his large estate of ten chariots and left Qi. Having settled in another state, he said: ‘They are no better than Cuizi,’ and left. Having settled in yet another state, he said once again: ‘They are no better than Cuizi,’ and left once again. What do you think of him?” Confucius said: “He was pure.” Zizhang said: “Was he a good person?” “I’m not sure; how can he be said to be a good person?”

Chapter 20
季文子三思而後行。子聞之,曰:「再斯可矣。」
Ji Wenzi always thought three times before taking action. When he heard this, Confucius said: “Twice is quite sufficient.”

Chapter 21
子曰:「甯武子,邦有道則知,邦無道則愚。其知可及也,其愚不可及也。」
Confucius said: “When the way prevailed in his state, Ning Wuzi acted wise. When his state lost the way, Ning Wuzi acted dumb. Others may match his wisdom but not his dumbness.”

Chapter 22
子在陳曰:「歸與!歸與!吾黨之小子狂簡,斐然成章,不知所以裁之。」
When Confucius was in the state of Chen, he said: “Let’s go home, let’s go home! Our young people are full of fire and bursting with talent, but they have no idea how to use it.”

Chapter 23
子曰:「伯夷叔齊,不念舊惡,怨是用希。」
Confucius said: “Boyi and Shuqi never bore grudges, so they rarely aroused any resentment from others.”

Chapter 24
子曰:「孰謂微生高直?或乞醯焉,乞諸其鄰而與之。」
Confucius said: “Who said that Weisheng Gao was as straight as a die? When someone begged him for vinegar and he didn’t have any, he begged a neighbor for some and gave it to the person who asked him for it.”

Chapter 25
子曰:「巧言、令色、足恭,左丘明恥之,丘亦恥之。匿怨而友其人,左丘明恥之,丘亦恥之。」
Confucius said: “Smooth talk, pretentiousness, and obsequiousness: Zuoqiu Ming detested such behavior, and I detest it too. Acting friendly towards a person you secretly resent: Zuoqiu Ming detested such behavior, and I detest it too.”

Chapter 26
顏淵、季路侍。子曰:「盍各言爾志?」子路曰:「願車馬、衣輕裘,與朋友共,敝之而無憾。」顏淵曰:「願無伐善,無施勞。」子路曰:「願聞子之志。」子曰:「老者安之,朋友信之,少者懷之。」
When Yan Hui and Zilu were sitting together with him, Confucius said: “How about telling me what you would most like to do?” Zilu said: “I would like to share my carriages, horses, clothes, and furs with my friends without getting upset if they damage them.” Yan Hui said: “I would like to avoid boasting about my abilities or causing trouble for others.” Zilu said: “We would love to hear what our master would most like to do.” Confucius said: “I would to provide comfort to the elderly, be faithful to my friends, and cherish the young.”

Chapter 27
子曰:「已矣乎!吾未見能見其過,而內自訟者也。」
Confucius said: “I give up! I have yet to meet a person capable of seeing their own faults and taking themselves to task in the court of their own heart.”

Chapter 28
子曰:「十室之邑,必有忠信如丘者焉,不如丘之好學也。」
Confucius said: “In a hamlet of ten houses, you’re certain to find someone as loyal and trustworthy as I am, but you won’t find a single person who loves learning as much as I do.”

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