Shao Hu (召忽) is known for the extreme, some would say excessive, devotion he showed to his master Prince Jiu of Qi (公子糾). After the prince was executed as a result of losing out in a power struggle against his younger brother, Duke Huan of Qi, the grief-stricken Shao Hu committed suicide rather than return to his homeland together with his comrade-in-arms Guan Zhong (管仲) as the duke ordered.
Although many people like Zilu admired Shao Hu for what they considered to be the ultimate act of loyalty of a retainer towards their master, others such as Confucius strongly defended Guan Zhong’s decision to defy the convention that Shao Hu followed and return to Qi. As Confucius argues in 14.16 and 14.17, Guan Zhong’s subsequent achievements as Duke Huan’s chief minister far outweighed his violation of a rarely observed rule of ritual propriety. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Shao Hu
Prince Jiu of Qi (公子糾) would have become the ruler of the state if an arrow fired at his younger brother Prince Xiaobai (公小白) had struck home as intended. But instead of sitting triumphantly on the throne, the prince ended up being executed at the orders of his sibling who was consolidating his power over the state and later became known as Duke Huan of Qi (齊桓公).
As the second and third sons of Duke Xi of Qi (齊僖公), neither Prince Jiu nor Prince Xiaobai were directly in line to succeed their father to the throne. When Duke Xi died in 698 BCE, their oldest brother Zhuer (諸兒) assumed power. He ruled until 686 BCE and was given the posthumous title of Duke Xiang (齊襄公). Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Prince Jiu of Qi
Duke Huan of Qi (齊桓公) was the ruler of Qi from 685 to 643 BCE. Together with his long-time chief minister Guan Zhong, he transformed the state into a military, economic, and political superpower that dominated China and fought off invasions from peoples living outside it. Towards the end of his long reign, however, the duke’s power declined as he grew ill and the court became embroiled in factional strife. Following his death in 643 BCE, Qi lost its dominance even more quickly than the duke and Guan Zhong had established it.
The duke was a son of Duke Xi of Qi (齊僖公) and was known by the personal name of Xiaobai (小白). Since he had at least two older brothers, he was not in line to succeed his father to the throne. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Huan of Qi
Duke Jian (齊簡公) was the ruler of the powerful but volatile state of Qi for just three years, from 484 to 481 BCE. The duke’s short reign was consumed by a vicious power struggle with Chen Heng (陳恒), a high ranking official and the head of the Chen Family who was fighting for complete control of the state.
When Chen Heng learned that Duke Jian and his chief minister Kan Zhi (闞止) were planning to expel him and the rest of his family from Qi, he had both of them killed in a violent coup d’état. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Jian of Qi
Chen Heng (陳恒), also referred to by his posthumous title Chen Chengzi (陳成子) in the Analects, is notorious for having not just one but probably two rulers of the state of Qi assassinated in the space of only four years.
Even though he was already extremely powerful as head of the formidable Chen Family and a highly ranked minister at court, Chen had his eyes firmly set on nothing less than assuming complete control of the state of Qi. In 485 BCE he is believed to have murdered the state’s hereditary ruler Duke Dao (齊悼公). In 481 BCE, after learning that the duke’s successor Duke Jian (齊簡公) and his chief minister Kan Zhi (闞止) were planning to expel him and the rest of the Chen Family from Qi, Chen had both of them killed in a violent coup d’état. Continue reading Historical figures in the Analects of Confucius: Chen Heng
After a decidedly unpromising start to his reign, Duke Jing of Qi (齊景公) restored the wealth and power of the state while working in tandem with his great chief minister Yan Ying (晏嬰) – only to send it spinning back into rapid decline after succumbing to the manifold temptations of a life of lavish luxury and unbridled pleasure.
As the son of a concubine, the duke would have had little chance of assuming the throne of Qi if the hand of fate hadn’t intervened. This came in the form of a powerful minister called Cuizi (崔子), who murdered the duke’s half-brother and then-ruler of state, Duke Zhuang (齊莊公), in 547 BCE after discovering that his sovereign was conducting an affair with his wife Tang Jiang (棠姜). Continue reading Contemporary figures in the Analects of Confucius: Duke Jing of Qi