Analects 14.17

Original Text:



Other Translations:

Zigong asked, “Guan Zhong was not a Good person, was he? When Duke Huan had Prince Jiu murdered, Guan Zhong was not only incapable of dying with his master, he moreover turned around and served his master’s murderer as Prime Minister.”

The Master replied, “When Guan Zhong served as Duke Huan’s Prime Minister, he allowed him to become hegemon over the other feudal lords, uniting and ordering the entire world. To this day, the people continue to enjoy the benefits of his achievements—if it were not for Guan Zhong, we would all be wearing our hair loose and fastening our garments on the left. How could he be expected to emulate the petty fidelity of a common husband or wife, going off to hang himself and die anonymously in some gully or ditch?”

Confucius, & Slingerland, E. (2003). Analects: With selections from traditional commentaries. Hackett Publishing.

Zigong said, Guan Zhong was not a humane man, was he? When Duke Huan put to death the ducal son Jiu, he not only could not bring himself to die with Jiu but went on to become prime minister to Duke Huan.

The Master said, With Guan Zhong as his prime minister, Duke Huan was able to become leader of the feudal lords and impose order on the empire. Even to this day, our people benefit from what he did. Without Guan Zhong, we would be wearing our hair unbound and folding our robes to the left. Would you expect of him the kind of “fidelity” of ordinary men or women who strangle themselves, end up in a roadside ditch, with no one even aware of it?

Confucius, & Watson, B. (2007). The Analects of Confucius. Columbia University Press.

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