Confucius (Kong Qiu), 551 - 479 BC

portrait of Confucius
Portrait by Wu Daozi, 680-740, Tang Dynasty

Born: 28 September 551 BC, Qufu, Lu, Zhou Dynasty
Died: 479 BC, Qufu, Lu, Zhou Dynasty

Confucius' father was a noble and a famous warrior but died when Confucius was three. As a concubine, his mother feared the treatment she and her son might get from the widow left the father's fiefdom and lived in relative poverty but arranged for her son to be well educated. About the time his mother died he took up teaching in 527 BC, reacting to the corruption and vice endemic in the Chou dynasty, teaching traditional values with great clarity. His disciples spread his words, and recorded thousands of them. Most of the recorded quotes come from the Analects, although it's possible that there are more spurious quotes than legitimate ones. As you will note from the sourced quotes, many of his axioms were fairly long, making the short bits preceded by "Confucius say" in fortune cookies highly suspect. The Communist government of China attacked his work during the Cultural Revolution, on the grounds that it represented the work of a class system headed by an aristocracy, but over time he was rehabilitated because Confucianism represents a strong link to traditional Chinese values. The Nationalist government of Taiwan always revered him and determined his date of birth on the Gregorian calendar and made it a national holiday. There is an online version in Chinese and English of The Analects.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Catholic Encyclopedia

Confucius quotes:

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