Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Cuizi

Cuizi (崔子) was a high-ranking minister in the state of Qi (齊) and is said to have assassinated its ruler Duke Zhuang (齊莊公) in 548 BCE after discovering that the duke was having a secret affair with his wife Tang Jiang (棠姜).

Although he ensured the succession of the dead duke’s half-brother, Duke Jing (齊景公), to the throne and thus maintained his ministerial position, Cuizi lost out in a political struggle against another alleged collaborator in the murder called Qing Feng (慶封). 

About a year after the assassination, Cuizi made the fatal mistake of asking Qing Feng for assistance after his two sons from his deceased first wife murdered the son of his second wife in a bitter fight over who would succeed their father as head of the family. Qing Feng leapt at this unexpected opportunity to destroy his rival, not only killing the two sons but the rest of the family as well – leaving the grief-stricken Cuizi and his wife no choice but to commit suicide in 546 BCE.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 5, Chapter 19

Book 5
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?”

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