Original Analects Supplement
LY 16

Passages: 1 13

Prefatory Note. Like LY 3, this appears to be a chapter which was being quietly compiled on a systematic plan, when it was interrupted by events, leaving interruptions in that systematic plan. The event in question seems to have been the conquest and obliteration of Sung by Chi, which began in 0286. There are reasons for thinking that this was as traumatic an event for the Chinese 03rd century as the Lisbon Earthquake was for Renaissance Europe. The total vanishing of the ancient state of Sung is mentioned in several 03rd century texts, and the pessimism it inspired, about the insecurity of the times, may have had much to do with the emergence of such movements as agrarian primitivism, a version of which is preserved for us in the Jwangdz. The Analects response to the events of 0286 is contained in 16:1 and its two sequels, 16:2-3.

16:1. It has been suggested that we are wrong to see, in this description of an event supposedly occurring in the lifetime of Confucius, a response to the Chi conquest of Sung in 0286. Why not, we have been asked, simply take it at face value? Alas, there is no face value, because there was no such event. No record of it, and no reference to it other than this passage, exists in the literature. Furthermore, commentators have pointed out that, according to the traditional biography of Confucius, as assembled in the Shr Ji and other places, the conversation here recorded can never have taken place: there was no one time when Confucius and these two disciples occupied the positions here attributed to them. The passage thus can only be emblematic, and interpretation can do nothing but offer suggestions as to what real event it refers to. We continue to think that our suggestion is by far the most probable. The length and literary "heat" of 16:1 imply a drastic event. This and the next two passages also interrupt and override a chapter plan which was clearly proceeding along other lines (it was simply a series of numbered-set passages). Finally, there is the hostile allusion to Chi in 16:2-3. That allusion would not have been at all obscure to 03c readers: public awareness of how many generations had passed since the Tyen usurpation of the throne of Chi is shown in Jwangdz 10:1. We then need to find a major threatened attack on a peaceful state, where the aggressor was the state of Chi. There were two such attacks, one on Yen in 0314, and one on Sung in 0285. The latter is the one that fits the chronology of Chi given in the next two passages.

16:13. It is worth noting that this imaginary scene portrays Confucius, not only as not teaching his son himself, but as not even knowing what the son is learning. Confucius in this and all later Analects chapters sometimes speaks in favor of the Shr, but he never (as he had done in the earlier 3:8) himself appears as an interpreter, that is, a possible teacher, of the Shr. If there is an implication, it is that the Shr tradition, which as of LY 3 (c0342) could still be seen as closely connected with Confucius, had by LY 16 (c0285 or, for this passage, perhaps a little earlier) passed into other hands. (On the dwindling of the Shr in the Analects scheme of things, see further 17:16).This happens to agree with what we infer about Sywndz, who had definitely studied the Shr, but, according to the perhaps more plausible of the two transmission genealogies which include him, had studied it with an otherwise unknwon Gvn Moudz. This person was probably the ritual master at the Lu court in these years, which were also the student years of Sywndz. Gvn Moudz would have had charge of ritual and its associated music and dance, as well as the performance of the Shr texts in that context, in ceremonies at the Lu court. Sywndz not only knew the Shr, he based his whole system on ritual, and he was familiar enough with music and dance to write a defense of them (now SZ 15) against the Mician attack on their cost-benefit ratio for society at large. Sywndz, that is, studied not with the Analects school (which had recently lost its court connection, and for which Sywndz often expressed contempt) but with the masters at the Lu court: the tradition in its power setting.

We may ask, with whom, then, did Confucius's son study the Shr? One possible answer is that he read the Shr on his own. With a text, this is perfectly possible. It is not, however, so easy to imagine him studying the rituals (Li) on his own, since much of ritual is not what you say while doing something, is it how you do that thing. It is an art of movement (see the prescriptions in LY 10) as much as an art of speech. Conceivably, then, the readers of LY 16:13 in its own time would have imagined Confucius's son as going across the street to the Lu palace, to learn the Shr and the Li from Gen Moudz.


This Supplement is Copyright © 2001- by E Bruce and A Taeko Brooks

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