Tag Archives: Shang Dynasty

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Yi Yin

Yi Yin ( 伊尹) was the right-hand man of Tang, the founder of the Shang dynasty, helping him to overthrow Jie, the despotic last ruler of the Xia dynasty, and build the foundations of his new government.

According to one popular legend, Yi Yin was the slave of a man called (有莘), who instructed him to accompany his daughter when he sent her to marry Tang. After being made Tang’s chef, Yi Yin spiced up the meals he served his king with his thoughts on how he should overthrow Jie and gradually became a trusted member of his retinue. Other stories about him differ greatly with this account, suggesting that Yi Yin was a wise man whom Tang had to approach many times before he finally decided to join him. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Yi Yin

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tang, founder of the Xia dynasty

Tang (湯) founded the Shang dynasty after overthrowing Jie (桀), the tyrannical last ruler of the Xia dynasty, in around 1600 BCE. He is also known as Cheng Tang (成湯), which literally means “Tang the Successful/Accomplished”.

Shang was the name of the small vassal state that Tang ruled for 17 years before his victory over Jie. During the course of his reign, he gradually built up alliances with rulers of other states that were also part of the Xia dynasty. Appalled by Jie’s cruelty and depravity, these rulers supported Tang in his efforts to oust him, which culminated in a famous victory at the battle of Mingtiao (鳴條) amid a driving thunderstorm. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Tang, founder of the Xia dynasty

Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

King Wen of Zhou (周文王) is honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty (周朝), even though in actual fact it was his son who actually established it after defeating the last Shang dynasty (商朝) king Zhouxin (紂辛) at the bloody battle of Muye (牧野之戰) in ca. 1046 BCE.

Born Ji Chang (姬昌) in 1152 BCE, King Wen took over as ruler of the then small state of Zhou after his father had been executed by the Shang king Wen Ding (文丁) in the late 12th century BCE. As the new king’s power and influence grew, the Shang king Zhouxin began to see him as a threat and had him thrown in prison in Youli (羑里) in modern-day Henan province, only agreeing to release him after being plied with lavish gifts from King Wen’s supporters. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: King Wen of Zhou

Leadership lessons from Confucius: forgive and forget

forgive and forget

子曰:「伯夷叔齊,不念舊惡,怨是用希。」
Confucius said: “Boyi and Shuqi never bore grudges, so they rarely aroused any resentment from others.” (1)

Forgive and forget. The only person you’ll hurt by holding a grudge against is yourself. Revenge is a dish best never served at all. The taste of it will leave you bitter and sore. Continue reading Leadership lessons from Confucius: forgive and forget

leadership lessons from Confucius: a follower of Zhou!

follower of Zhou

子曰:「周監於二代,郁郁乎文哉!吾從周。」
Confucius said: “The Zhou dynasty modeled itself upon the two previous dynasties. What a great civilization! I am a follower of Zhou!”

Look to the past as well as the future. Respect its great traditions and draw on its well of great wisdom. Learn from the mistakes that were made to avoid repeating them. Continue reading leadership lessons from Confucius: a follower of Zhou!