What Confucius Taught by Sanderson Beck
The Analects of Confucius - Friesian School
Chapter 21 finds Confucius returning to the topic of the Divine Sage. Here, he describes Yu the Great, a figure from Chinese legend generally associated with a flood myth. Yu drained the land and tilled the fields, establishing agriculture. Confucius finds him to be flawless, living a humble life but still revering the sanctity of rituals. Yu is believed to have been celebrated as the ideal ruler by the Mohists, early adversaries of the Confucian school. Mohists valued selfless sacrifice as an ideal and viewed ritual as a somewhat extravagant and Confucian ideal. In this passage, Confucius seems to adopt Yu, praising these qualities. Thus some scholars feel this passage may have been added at a later date.
Key Passages in the Analects of Confucius
Book IX continues in much the same fashion as Book VIII, without a central theme or idea. There is a mix of statements concerning the character of Confucius as well as observations on goodness and ritual propriety. Chapter 2 finds a villager lamenting that Confucius, though being a great man, does nothing to further his reputation. Confucius's response is a bit unusual and has been interpreted in various ways by scholars. Confucius asks his disciples if he should take up charioteering or archery. He states he will take up charioteering. One of the characteristics of a gentleman is to not be known as a specialist in any line of work.