Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Huan Tui

Huan Tui (桓魋) was a powerful minister in charge of military affairs in the small state of Song. He felt so threatened by Confucius that he engineered an attempt to assassinate the sage when he visited the state in 492 BCE during his exile from Lu in order to prevent him from meeting with the titular ruler Duke Jing. 

According to Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian (史記/shǐjì), Huan ordered his thugs to cut down a tree that Confucius and his disciples were holding a ritual under in order to crush them to death. After the failure of this hairbrained attempt, Confucius and his followers fled the state in disguise.

Huan Tui went on to become so powerful in Song that, according to the Commentary of Zuo (左傳/Zuǒ zhuán), Duke Jing attempted to get rid of him in 481 BCE. After launching a failed rebellion, Huan went into exile, first in Wei and then in Qi.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 7, Chapter 22

Book 7
Chapter 22
子曰:「天生德於予,桓魋其如予何?」
Confucius said: “Heaven has bestowed me with virtue. What do I have to fear from Huan Tui?”

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *