Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zuo Qiuming

Tradition has it that Zuo Qiuming (左丘明) was a contemporary of Confucius and court historian for the state of Lu. He is remembered as the author of the Commentary of Zuo (左傳/zuǒzhuán), one of the earliest narrative histories of China and reportedly a gem of classical Chinese prose. 

This famous work has traditionally been regarded as a commentary on another ancient Chinese chronicle the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋/Chūnqiū) – which, according to Mencius, were edited by none other than Confucius himself.

There is no evidence to support either of these claims. Indeed, some commentators say that Qiuming was simply a well-known figure who lived before or during sage’s lifetime and had no hand in writing the commentary. To further add to the uncertainty surrounding his true identity, it is not clear whether his surname was Zuo or Zuoqiu. As a result, his name may be written as Zuo Qiuming or Zuoqiu Ming.

About the only thing we really know is that judging by his comments about Qiuming in Chapter 25 of Book 5 of the Analects, Confucius had great respect for him.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 5, Chapter 25

Book 5
Chapter 25
Confucius said: “Smooth talk, pretentiousness, and obsequiousness: Zuoqiu Ming detests such behavior, and I detest it too. Acting friendly towards a person you secretly resent: Zuoqiu Ming detests such behavior, and I detest it too.”

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