Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Song Chao

Song Chao (宋朝) was a minister of the state of Wei who was famous for his good looks. He is said to have used his appearance in order to attract the favor of Nanzi (南子), the (allegedly) scheming and promiscuous consort of the notorious Duke Ling of Wei (衛靈公).

Indeed, according to some of the more lurid rumors that circulated about Song and Nanzi, the couple were brother and sister and Nanzi had specifically invited Song to serve in her husband’s court so that they could become lovers. There is no evidence to prove that these rumors were true – though that didn’t stop them from spreading like wildfire and further damaging Nanzi’s dubious reputation.

Confucius may possibly have met Song when he visited Wei during after leaving his home state of Lu for exile in 496 BCE and was less than impressed with his good looks. His highly controversial decision to meet with Nanzi herself suggests, however, that was either unaware of the rumored affair between her and Song or didn’t believe that the rumors of it were true.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 6, Chapter 16

Book 6
Chapter 16
子曰:「不有祝鮀之佞,而有宋朝之美,難乎免於今之世矣。」
Confucius said: “It’s difficult to survive in an age like ours without the smooth tongue of Zhu Tuo and the good looks of Song Chao.”

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