Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zifu Jingbo

Zifu Jingbo (子服景伯) was a high-level official in the government of the state of Lu, who was so outraged by the accusations made against Zilu by Ji Family retainer Gongbo Liao (公伯寮) that in 14.36 he boasts that he still possesses enough power “to have Liao’s corpse splayed open in the market and court” for slander.

In 19.22, he rats out his fellow minister Shusun Wushu (叔孫武叔) to Zigong for claiming that Zigong was superior to Confucius. Zigong puts his attempt at mischief-making firmly in its place by telling Jingbo that since very few people really knew Confucius he isn’t surprised by such a comment.

Confucius doesn’t take Jingbo’s threat against Gongbo Liao particularly seriously either, telling him: “Will the way prevail? That’s for fate to decide. Will the way be cast aside? That’s for fate to decide. What does Gongbo Liao matter compared with fate?”

Like Gongbo Liao, Zifu Jingbo also made Sima Qian’s list of Confucius’s followers as well – though this is unlikely.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 14, Chapter 36
Book 19, Chapter 22

Book 14
Chapter 36
公伯寮愬子路於季孫,子服景伯以告曰:「夫子固有惑志於公伯寮,吾力猶能肆諸市朝。」子曰:「道之將行也與?命也!道之將廢也與?命也!公伯寮其如命何!」
Gongbo Liao made accusations against Zilu to the head of the Ji Family. Zifu Jingbo reported this to Confucius, saying: “My master’s mind is being led astray by Gongbo Liao; but I still have enough power to splay Liao’s corpse open in the market and court.” Confucius said: “Will the way prevail? That’s for fate to decide. Will the way be cast aside? That’s for fate to decide. What does Gongbo Liao matter compared with fate?”

Book 19
Chapter 22
叔孫武叔語大夫於朝曰:「子貢賢於仲尼。」子服景伯以告子貢。子貢曰:「譬之宮牆。賜之牆也及肩,窺見屋家之好;夫子之牆數仞,不得其門而入,不見宗廟之美,百官之富。得其門者或寡矣!夫子之云,不亦宜乎!」
Shusun Wushu said to the ministers at court: “Zigong is superior to Confucius.” Zifu Jingbo told this to Zigong. Zigong said: “Let us take the surrounding wall of a residence as a comparison. My wall is only shoulder-height; so you can simply peer over it to see the beauty of the house inside. Our Master’s wall would tower many yards higher; so unless you are allowed through the gate, you cannot imagine the magnificence of the ancestral temple and the majesty of the other buildings. But since very few people have been allowed through the gate, it’s not surprising that your colleague would make such a comment.”

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