Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke of She

The Duke of She (葉公) was a feudal lord and high-level minister of the state of Chu whose fiefdom was located in what is now Henan province. Also known as the Duke of Ye, his full name was Shen Zhuliang (沈諸梁) and he lived from ca. 529 BCE to ca. 478 BCE. He is mentioned several times in the Commentary of Zuo (左傳/Zuǒ zhuán).

Depending on which commentators you choose to believe, the duke was either an ambitious figure who wanted to hire Confucius to help him fulfill his lust for greater power or a wise and thoughtful individual who had great admiration for the sage.

Zilu’s refusal to answer his question may indicate that he was concerned that the duke wanted to offer Confucius a job, and this was his way of showing him that he didn’t want to get involved in the process. 

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 7, Chapter 18

Book 7
Chapter 18
The Duke of She asked Zilu about Confucius. Zilu did not reply. Confucius said: “Why didn’t you say, ‘He’s the kind of man who gets so lost in his passions that he forgets to eat and so caught up in his happiness that he forgets his worries and doesn’t even notice he’s growing old?’”

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