Shun (舜) was one of the five legendary sage kings of ancient China in the 23rd or 22nd century BCE. He reportedly ruled for nearly fifty years after the previous ruler Yao (堯) had abdicated in favor of him because of his higher virtue. Prior to his death, reputedly at the age of 100, he is said to have relinquished his throne to his successor, Yu (禹), who went on to establish the first recorded dynasty in China’s history, the Xia (夏朝). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Sage King Shun
King Wu’s name (周武王) literally means “Martial King”. He founded the Zhou dynasty (周朝) after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) ruler, Zhouxin (紂辛), in the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wu of Zhou
There is a lot of speculation surrounding the identity of Zisang Bozi (桑伯子). One popular theory is that he was a former minister of the state of Lu who gave up the good life to become a recluse or itinerant Daoist sage in protest against the corruption he saw while in government.
Confucius is said to have met Zisang Bozi by chance while walking around the countryside and appears to have been quite taken by his easygoing ways. This would fit with the overriding message of Chapter 2 of Book 6, the only passage in which Zisang is mentioned in the Analects, though of course it doesn’t mean that this theory is correct. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zisang Bozi
Duke Ai (魯哀公) was the hereditary ruler of the state of Lu, but had little actual power because it was concentrated in the hands of the Three Families, the Jisun (季孫), Mengsun (孟孙), and Shusun (叔孫).
During the course of his reign (ca. 494 to ca. 467 BCE), the duke attempted to restore the primacy of his family, but was forced to flee from Lu towards the end of it. Soon after arriving in the state of Yue (越), he went back to Lu but never returned to the court and lived out his finals days at the home of a family called Shan (山). No wonder his posthumous name literally means Duke Sadness! Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Ai of Lu
Kong Wenzi (孔文子) was the posthumous name given to Kong Yu (孔圉) a minister of the state of Wei (魏)) who died about a year before Confucius in about 480 BCE.
Kong’s posthumous name literally means Kong-the-Refined or Kong-the-Cultured. Some people considered this to be rather ironic given that he was said to have been rather an unsavory character notorious for his disloyalty and dissoluteness. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Kong Wenzi
Zichan (子產) was the courtesy name of Gongsun Qiao (公孫僑), who was renowned for the brilliance of his leadership as the chief minister of the state of Zheng (鄭) from ca. 544 BCE until his death in ca. 521 BCE.
As chief minister, Zichan managed to expand the territory of Zheng even though it was bordered by the much larger and more powerful states of Chu (楚) and Jin (晉). At the same time, he was successful in carrying out a series of legal, political, economic, and social reforms that strengthened the state and solidified the rule of law. Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Zichan
Here is a list of resources covering the Analects of Confucius Book 3. You can click on the links below to learn more about the main themes of the book, including ritual, music, and leadership. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: Resources
As in Book 2, Confucius is featured in all the chapters of Book 3 of the Analects. The sage’s faithful followers Zixia and Zigong also appear in the book along with three new ones in the form of the rather dim-witted Lin Fang, the grasping Ran Qiu, and the clever but arrogant Zai Yu. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: by numbers
With civilization collapsing around him as multiple states and factions within them fought for control of China, Confucius looked back to the “golden age” at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty in the 11th century BC as the model for restoring stability and culture to the country. Continue reading Analects of Confucius Book 3: I follow the Zhou!
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