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Monday, October 03, 2005

Confucius on women and oppressive governments

"Women and people of low birth are very hard to deal with. If you are friendly with them, they get out of hand, and if you keep your distance, they resent it." - Confucius

Addendum: 子曰:唯女人与小人难养也,近者则不逊远者则怨

(via The Analects of Confucius - Lun Yu XVII. 25. (472))


In passing by the side of mount Thâi, Confucius came on a woman who was wailing bitterly by a grave. The Master bowed forward to the cross-bar, and hastened to her; and then sent Dze-lû to question her. 'Your wailing,' said he, 'is altogether like that of one who has suffered sorrow upon sorrow.' She replied, ' It is so. Formerly, my husband's father was killed here by a tiger. My husband was also killed (by another), and now my son has died in the same way.' The Master said, 'Why do you not leave the place?' The answer was, 'There is no oppressive government here.' The Master then said (to the disciples), 'Remember this, my little children. Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers.'

- The Book of Rites: Book II - THE THAN KUNG, Section II, PART III, Passage 10

(An extended retelling of the story above may be found here)
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