The Qi (齐) State and the Lu (鲁) State were two feudal countries of the Zhou (周) Dynasty. Both of them were in modern-day Shandong Province, and they were neighbors. The Lu State once supported Gongzi Jiu (公子纠, the younger brother of Qi Huan-Gong) to be the monarch of the Qi State, so Qi Huan-Gong (齐桓公) wanted to retaliate after he ascended the throne. In order to improve the relationship between two states, Lu Zhuang-Gong (鲁庄公), the monarch of the Lu State, killed Gongzi Jiu. Guan Zhong (管仲), the teacher of Gongzi Jiu, was repatriated back to the Qi State.
Age of Feudal States
Yan Ji was a humble concubine of Zheng Wen-Gong who was a monarch of Zheng State in the Spring-Autumn Period. Though she was a daughter of the monarch of the southern Yan State, Zheng Wen-Gong seldom met her. In a night, she dreamed that a herald of Heaven gave her an orchid and said, “I am Boshu. I, your ancestor, let it be your son. Because an orchid is fragrant as national virtues, people will love your son as they love orchids. ” In the following day, Wen-Gong came to meet her, and gave an orchid to her.
Zihan was a minister of Song State in the Spring-Autumn Period. He administered state construction projects. This official position was called Sicheng in Song State, and was called Sikong in other states. One day, a person visited Zihan with a jade stone. This person said, “This is a treasure. I present it to you.” Zihan smiled and answered, “You regard jade as a treasure, but I regard incorruption as a treasure.
Shi Kang (师旷) was a famous musician of the Jin (晋) State in the Spring-Autumn Period. He was a hereditary official musician, and his position was called “Taishi” (太师). He was a straightforward man, and hated despotism.
Yangshe Zhi (羊舌职) was the minister of the Jin (晋) State in the Spring-Autumn Period. He was an upstanding and forthright man who offended many ministers. Due to his issues with other ministers he recommended himself to become a regional official. The monarch consented and gave Yangshe Zhi a post in a small city. The local people respected Yangshe Zhi as a man of integrity. They wanted to present some gifts to him, but they were very poor. They decided to steal several goats and visited Yangshe Zhi, who refused to accept the goats assuming they were bribes.
A war is cruel anytime. What will a person do when he recognizes his antagonist is the person who has been close with him in the past? There is a dilemma.
In 559 B.C., Wei Xian-Gong, a monarch of Wei State, was expelled because he treated his ministers irreverently. Sun Linfu, an influential minister who led the coup, sent Yingong Tuo and Yugong Chai to pursuit Wei Xian-Gong. Gongsun Ding, a relative of the monarch, drove the chariot for Xian-Gong.
Zhu Wen-Gong was the monarch of Zhu State in the Spring-Autumn Period. In 614 B.C., he planed to move the capital to the city Yi, and he let a historiographer divine the future. The historiographer got a divinatory sign from an oracle tortoise plastron, and he told the monarch, “The move of the capital will benefit people, but it will be detrimental to the monarch.” Zhu Wen-Gong said, “If the move can benefit people, it is my honor. The Heaven let people live here and designate a monarch for benefiting them.
Qi Jing-Gong, the monarch of Qi State in the later days of the Spring-Autumn Period, was a statesman of great achievement. He was a romantic person and liked travel. He was on the throne in 58 years, and reversed the unfavorable situation of contending against Jin State and gained the upper hand. Through wise summit diplomacy, material assistance and beautiful women, the monarchs of many states including some allies of Jin State became the allies of Qi Jing-Gong.
Gongzi Zha was the youngest son of Shoumeng, the king of Wu State which was in modern-days Jiangsu Province. He was an erudite and judicious man, so his father wanted to give him the throne, but Gongzi Zha refused. He abandoned the comfortable life and made a living on the land. His father had no ideas, and he left dying words that his several sons became the king one after another. The elder brothers of Zha understood the heart of their father, and hoped Zha to ascend the throne. But Gongzi Zha still refused.
Confucius had a poor neighbor. One day, the poor man cooked food by an earthenware. He tasted the food, and thought it was very delicious. He thought he should let his wise neighbor taste so delicious food. So the poor man put much of the food into an earthen bowl, and presented it to Confucius. Confucius accepted the present delightedly as accepting a treasure. Zilu, one of his students, felt surprised and said, “The earthen bowl is cheap, and the food is not generous in fact.