Duke Jing of Qi asked Confucius about government.

Confucius replied, “Let the ruler be a ruler, minister be a minister, father be a father, son be a son.”

The Duke said, “Excellent! If indeed, if the ruler is not a ruler, the ministers not ministers, fathers not fathers and sons not sons, even if I had grain, how could I eat it?”


Duke Jing of Qi had thousands of horse-drawn chariots, but when he died, the people couldn’t think of anything good to say about him. Bo Yi and Shu Qi both died of starvation at the foot of Mount Shouyang and the people continue praising them right up the present day. This is what it means.”


Duke Jing of Qi invited Confucius to serve him and considered how to treat him.

“I can’t treat him the way the head of the Jisun family is treated in Lu. I’ll treat him as if his position is somewhere between the head of the Jisun family and the head of the Mengsun family.” Later, he added, “I’m too old. I can’t employ him.”

Hearing this, Confucius left.