The Analects of Confucius were written around 500 BC and are traditionally attributed to Confucius. However, much of the actual text was written by his students over a period of time spanning thirty to fifty years after his death. The exact date of publication is unknown. The best-known version today is a combination of the Lu and Qi versions of the job. These were compiled by Zhang Yu, a teacher of Emperor Cheng, towards the end of the western Han dynasty.
This work is a compilation of talks held between the Chinese thinker and philosopher Confucius and his disciples. It is a group of ramblings and reflections made in the midst of a period of geopolitical problems in China.
Structure and characters
The Analects were recorded by the disciples of Confucius, probably in the late 4th or early 5th century BC. C., during the period of the Combatant States. It is made up of twenty chapters, each consisting of aphorisms, questions, and notes attributed to Confucius and twenty of his disciples.
- Meng I Tzu / Mang I: A young patrician from the state of Lu who was sent to study with Confucius by his father. He died in 481 a. C.
- Meng Wu Po / Mang Wu: The son of Meng I Tzu / Mang I.
- Tzu-yu / Tsze-yu: Another disciple
- Yen Hui / Yan Yuan: Confucius’ most famous disciple. His premature death caused some confusion and is mentioned at various points in the text.
- Tzu-lu: A disciple sometimes called Yu.
- Tzu-chang / Tsze-chang: A disciple
- Duke ai: The Duke of Lu from 494-468.
- Confucius / The Master / Master K’ung: Chinese philosopher, politician and teacher who lived between 551 and 479 a. C. His philosophy emphasized morality, sincerity, and an awareness of the correct way of conducting himself in all matters. The Analects represent a collection of his sayings documented by his disciples after his death.
- Lin Fang: A disciple who was known for his slow wit and general lack of intelligence.
- Jan Ch’iu / Ran Qiu: A court minister serving the Chi family.
- Tzu-Hsia / Shang: A revered disciple whom Confucius congratulates on his understanding of the Book of Songs.
- Wang-sun Chia: Wei’s commander-in-chief.
- Tsai Yu / Zai Yu: A Confucius disciple with whom he expressed great disappointment. He is portrayed in the text as lazy and argumentative.
- Kuan Chung / Guan Zhong: A statesman of the 7th century BC. C. who built the power of the Ch’i kingdom.
- Master Tseng: Sometimes called “Zengzi” or “Zeng Shen”, this disciple is attributed various sayings.
- Jan Yung / Zhonggong: An important Confucian figure.
- Master Yu / Yu Ruo: This character appears almost entirely in Book I and may have had his own disciples.
- Yuan Ssu: Little is known about this disciple.
- Yan Yan: A native of Wu, distinguished by his literary knowledge.
- Chang / Zi-zhang: A native of Chen, he is believed to be forty-eight years younger than Confucius.
- Li / Po-Yu: The son of Confucius, who is believed to have died before his father.
- Yang Huo: A retainer of the Chi family, he is believed to have usurped the power of the Chi family after being appointed administrator of the Pi domain.
- Kung-shan Fu-jao: The Guardian of Pi, the main strength of the Chi family. He rebelled against the Chi family in 502 a. C.
- Chieh Yu: The crazy Ch’u.
The name “analect” means a fragment or excerpt from literature, or a collection of teachings. In Chinese, the title of the book literally reads “Discussion on the Words of Confucius.”
Summary and Synopsis
The text, with its dialogues and reflections, takes place during the Period of the Warring States (475-222 BC), a period of great turmoil and geopolitical restructuring when the vassals of the then titular sovereign (Zhou dynasty) deserted and they declared independent from Zhou. , thus becoming kingdoms in their own right. It is in this context that Analects must be read and interpreted.
Due to the regionalism and factionalism that plagued China at the time, Confucius describes what is required by individuals, communities and local and national governors for the reconstitution of a unified, harmonious, peaceful and orderly society.
Thus the reader will find again and again Confucius’ emphasis on the need to respect elders and authority figures, the need for all members of society to observe and abide by traditional rituals and ceremonies, and the need of all people, especially those who rule, to cultivate the highest moral virtue, which Confucius calls “manhood.” This single virtue, says Confucius, is enough to guide one’s actions away from evil and crime towards justice and peace.
Along with manhood, Confucius adds the need to cultivate a sense of filiality, or filial piety, which is a love and respect for elders and authority figures. A population, Confucius says, who has internalized this sense of filial piety will be a people who ultimately govern themselves, and therefore allow the best form of government by politicians: to govern with the least amount of coercion and punitive force.
Since the time of this philosopher, the Analects of Confucius have strongly influenced the philosophy and ethical values of China and, later, of other East Asian countries. A man who was not familiar with the Analects was considered uneducated and not morally upright.
Along with other works that make up the Four Books, the Analects teach the main Confucian virtues: decorum, justice, equity and filial piety. For almost two thousand years, the Analects were the basis of Chinese education.
“Words can express with fidelity our thought”
“It should not grieve us that men do not know you. The unfortunate thing is that you are not worthy of being known by men. ”
“Vicious men try to hide their faults with appearances of honesty.”