Tag Archives: Analects

Analects of Confucius Book 3: overview

The Analects of Confucius Book 3 features some quite astonishing tirades from Confucius against the Three Families, the real power behind the throne of his home state of Lu, for what he saw as their shameless violations of the ancient ritual ceremonies and proprieties that he believed were essential for a civilized society. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: overview

Duke Ding of Lu

Duke Ding (魯定公) was the predecessor of Duke Ai (哀公) as the ruler of Lu, and reigned from around 509 to 495 BCE. Although responsible for elevating Confucius to his highest official position as Minister of Justice (大司寇) of Lu, the duke was ultimately at least indirectly responsible for Confucius’s decision to go into exile because of his inability to control the Three Families, who were the de facto rulers of the state. Indeed, Duke Ding was said to be so weak that he was the kind of ruler who “held the blade of the sword and offered the handle to his enemies.” Continue reading Duke Ding of Lu

Wangsun Jia

Wangsun Jia (王孫賈) was the chief minister of Duke Ling of Wei (魏), the ruler of one of the states that Confucius visited in his fruitless quest for engagement as an adviser. No doubt feeling threatened by the arrival of the sage, he obliquely warned Confucius to go through him rather than directly to his ruler by quoting an old proverb about praying to the kitchen god.  Continue reading Wangsun Jia

Meng Yizi

Meng Yizi (孟懿子) is said to have been one of two young nobles from the state of Lu who were entrusted by their father to Confucius for tutoring when he was starting out as a teacher. Meng subsequently rose to become head of the Mengsun (孟孙) clan, one of the notorious Three Families that were the real power in behind the throne of the state of Lu. In Chapter 5 of Book 2, Confucius criticizes him obliquely for holding over-elaborate ceremonies that violated the conventions of ritual. Continue reading Meng Yizi

Analects of Confucius Book 2: contemporary figures

Although there is extensive (and inconclusive) debate over how high Confucius actually rose in the ranks of the bureaucracy of Lu, he was certainly extremely well connected with senior officials, members of the so-called Three Families that were the true powers in the state, and even its hereditary rulers. This gave him the opportunity to observe their character and behavior at first hand, and to offer them his counsel and wisdom (even if in most cases they chose to ignore it). Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: contemporary figures

Analects of Confucius Book 2: Confucius on law


As a magistrate in his home state of Lu, Confucius would have had plenty of opportunities to see at first hand the arbitrariness and brutality of the legal system that prevailed in ancient China. Justice was rare and punishments were extremely severe for the convicted, who faced summary dismemberment and execution. Even those who managed to evade such horrific sanctions were tattooed so that they were clearly identified as criminals after their sentence was completed. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 2: Confucius on law