Analects 3.21

Original Text:



Other Translations:

Duke Ai asked Zai Wo about the altar to the soil.

Zai Wo replied, “The clans of the Xia sovereigns used the pine tree, the Shang people used the cypress tree, and the Zhou people used the chestnut tree (li). It is said that they wanted to instill fear (li) in the people.”

Having been informed of this, the Master remarked, “One does not try to explain what is over and done with, one does not try to criticize what is already gone, and one does not try to censure that which is already fast.”

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

Duke Ai asked Zai Wo about the altar to the god of the soil. Zai Wo replied, The Xia rulers planted it with pines, the men of Yin planted it with cedars, the men of Zhou plant it with chestnuts (li), in order, they say to make the common people tremble (li).

When the Master heard of this, he said, Completed affairs one does not comment on; things done one does not carp over; what is past one does not criticize.

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