The Master said, “Guan Zhong’s vessel was of small capacity.”
Someone asked, “Do you mean that he was frugal?”
The Master replied, “Guan maintained three separate residences and had a separate staff member for each duty. How could be called frugal?”
“Well, then, do you mean to say that Guan Zhong understood ritual?”
The Master replied, “The lord of a state erects a wall in front of his gate, and Guan did the same. The lord of a state, when entertaining other lords, has a stand upon which to place the drinking ups after the toast, and Guan also had one of these. If Guan understood ritual, who does not understand it?”
Confucius, & Slingerland, E. (2003). Analects: With selections from traditional commentaries. Hackett Publishing.
The Master said, Guan Zhong was a man of small parts!
Someone objected, saying, Guan Zhong was noted for frugality, was he not?
The Master said, Guan Zhong had his Three Returning mansion, and he did not require his staff to perform double duties – how can that be called frugal?
But, said the other person, Guan Zhong understood ritual, did he not?
The Master said, Rulers of states put up gate screens, and Mr. Guan put up a gate screen too. Rulers of states, when entertaining another ruler, have a stand for inverted wine cups, and Mr. Guan had a stand for inverted wine cups too. If Mr. Guan understood ritual, who doesn’t understand ritual?
Confucius, & Watson, B. (2007). The Analects of Confucius. Columbia University Press.