.......The Analects (Lun-yü) is a collection of moral and ethical principles enunciated by the Chinese thinker Confucius (Ku0092ung Fu-tzu) in conversations with his disciples. These principles set standards for individual conduct and the administration of government and community. After Confucius died in 479 BC, his followers compiled his teachings in the form of dialogues between him and his students. The resulting collection highly influenced educational, social, and cultural thought in China and elsewhere.
Format and Years Written
.......The passages in The Analects appear as dialogues between Confucius and his disciples. In 479 BC, when Confucius died, these disciples began collecting and compiling the dialogues. Over the next two-and-a-half centuries, followers of Confucian ideals saw the work through to its conclusion in 221 BC.
The Life of Confucius
.......Confucius, or Ku0092ung Fu-tzu, was born in China on Sept. 27 or 28, 551 BC, in the state of Lu, now Shantung Province. The Chinese observe his birthday, called Teachersu0092 Day, on Sept. 28.
.......The father of Confucius was said to have been a member of the nobility, but the Ku0092ung family fell into poverty after his death, when Confucius was just three. In spite of his familyu0092s financial problems, Confucius received a good education in music, arithmetic, calligraphy, and other disciplines. After marrying at age nineteen, he earned a living tending stable animals and keeping accounts for granaries. Then he became a philosopher and teacher.
.......Meanwhile, his wife gave birth to a son and two daughters. In his early fifties, he accepted prestigious government employment in his region, overseeing public works and efforts to combat crime. However, the powers-that-be later drove him from office, probably because he incurred their displeasure. In his later years, he spent his time interpreting classic Chinese literature. He died in 479 BC in his home province and was buried in the town of Qufu (also transliterated as Chü-fou and Kufow), the capital of the state of Lu in ancient times. A temple honoring Confucius and his disciples was built in 1724 on the site where his house once stood. Just outside the town is the tomb of Confucius and other members of the Ku0092ung family.
General Theme of The Analects
.......Running through the teachings of Confucius is this theme: A man should lead an upright life, educate himself, and contribute to the betterment of society. The superior man, he says, respects elders, cultivates the friendship of good people, presides over his subordinates with a fair and even hand, continually educates himself, overflows with love for fellow human beings, and in general sets a good example for others to follow.
.......The passages in The Analects are terse and easy to understand. Many of these passages, though presented in the form of conversation, are epigrams that stand alone as wise and memorable admonitions. The statements make frequent use of parallel structure and antithesis, as in the following passages from The Analects:
The Master said, "If a man in the morning hear the right way, he may die in the evening without regret" (Book 4, Chapter 8).
The Master said, "Is virtue a thing remote? I wish to be virtuous, and lo! virtue is at hand" (Book 7, Chapter 29).
When a country is well-governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill-governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of".
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