The Library

The Analects of Confucius


Confucius said of the head of the Chi family, who had eight rows
of pantomimes in his area, "If he can bear to do this, what may he not
bear to do?"
The three families used the Yungode, while the vessels were being
removed, at the conclusion of the sacrifice. The Master said,
"'Assisting are the princes;-the son of heaven looks profound and
grave';-what application can these words have in the hall of the three
The Master said, "If a man be without the virtues proper to
humanity, what has he to do with the rites of propriety? If a man be
without the virtues proper to humanity, what has he to do with music?"
Lin Fang asked what was the first thing to be attended to in
The Master said, "A great question indeed!
"In festive ceremonies, it is better to be sparing than extravagant.
In the ceremonies of mourning, it is better that there be deep
sorrow than in minute attention to observances."
The Master said, "The rude tribes of the east and north have their
princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are
without them."
The chief of the Chi family was about to sacrifice to the T'ai
mountain. The Master said to Zan Yu, "Can you not save him from this?"
He answered, "I cannot." Confucius said, "Alas! will you say that
the T'ai mountain is not so discerning as Lin Fang?"
The Master said, "The student of virtue has no contentions. If it be
said he cannot avoid them, shall this be in archery? But he bows
complaisantly to his competitors; thus he ascends the hall,
descends, and exacts the forfeit of drinking. In his contention, he is
still the Chun-tsze."
Tsze-hsia asked, saying, "What is the meaning of the passage-'The
pretty dimples of her artful smile! The well-defined black and white
of her eye! The plain ground for the colors?'"
The Master said, "The business of laying on the colors follows the
preparation of the plain ground."
"Ceremonies then are a subsequent thing?" The Master said, "It is
Shang who can bring out my meaning. Now I can begin to talk about
the odes with him."
The Master said, "I could describe the ceremonies of the Hsia
dynasty, but Chi cannot sufficiently attest my words. I could describe
the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, but Sung cannot sufficiently attest
my words. They cannot do so because of the insufficiency of their
records and wise men. If those were sufficient, I could adduce them in
support of my words."
The Master said, "At the great sacrifice, after the pouring out of
the libation, I have no wish to look on."
Some one asked the meaning of the great sacrifice. The Master
said, "I do not know. He who knew its meaning would find it as easy to
govern the kingdom as to look on this"-pointing to his palm.
He sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present. He sacrificed to
the spirits, as if the spirits were present.
The Master said, "I consider my not being present at the
sacrifice, as if I did not sacrifice."
Wang-sun Chia asked, saying, "What is the meaning of the saying, 'It
is better to pay court to the furnace then to the southwest corner?'"
The Master said, "Not so. He who offends against Heaven has none
to whom he can pray."
The Master said, "Chau had the advantage of viewing the two past
dynasties. How complete and elegant are its regulations! I follow
The Master, when he entered the grand temple, asked about
everything. Some one said, "Who say that the son of the man of Tsau
knows the rules of propriety! He has entered the grand temple and asks
about everything." The Master heard the remark, and said, "This is a
rule of propriety."
The Master said, "In archery it is not going through the leather
which is the principal thing;-because people's strength is not
equal. This was the old way."
Tsze-kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep connected
with the inauguration of the first day of each month.
The Master said, "Ts'ze, you love the sheep; I love the ceremony."
The Master said, "The full observance of the rules of propriety in
serving one's prince is accounted by people to be flattery."
The Duke Ting asked how a prince should employ his ministers, and
how ministers should serve their prince. Confucius replied, "A
prince should employ his minister according to according to the
rules of propriety; ministers should serve their prince with
The Master said, "The Kwan Tsu is expressive of enjoyment without
being licentious, and of grief without being hurtfully excessive."
The Duke Ai asked Tsai Wo about the altars of the spirits of the
land. Tsai Wo replied, "The Hsia sovereign planted the pine tree about
them; the men of the Yin planted the cypress; and the men of the
Chau planted the chestnut tree, meaning thereby to cause the people to
be in awe."
When the Master heard it, he said, "Things that are done, it is
needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is
needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to
The Master said, "Small indeed was the capacity of Kwan Chung!"
Some one said, "Was Kwan Chung parsimonious?" "Kwan," was the reply,
"had the San Kwei, and his officers performed no double duties; how
can he be considered parsimonious?"
"Then, did Kwan Chung know the rules of propriety?" The Master said,
"The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their
gates. Kwan had likewise a screen at his gate. The princes of States
on any friendly meeting between two of them, had a stand on which to
place their inverted cups. Kwan had also such a stand. If Kwan knew
the rules of propriety, who does not know them?"
The Master instructing the grand music master of Lu said, "How to
play music may be known. At the commencement of the piece, all the
parts should sound together. As it proceeds, they should be in harmony
while severally distinct and flowing without break, and thus on to the
The border warden at Yi requested to be introduced to the Master,
saying, "When men of superior virtue have come to this, I have never
been denied the privilege of seeing them." The followers of the sage
introduced him, and when he came out from the interview, he said,
"My friends, why are you distressed by your master's loss of office?
The kingdom has long been without the principles of truth and right;
Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue."
The Master said of the Shao that it was perfectly beautiful and also
perfectly good. He said of the Wu that it was perfectly beautiful
but not perfectly good.
The Master said, "High station filled without indulgent
generosity; ceremonies performed without reverence; mourning conducted
without sorrow;-wherewith should I contemplate such ways?"