Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋, chūnqiū) is a chronicle of the ancient Chinese state of Lu, traditionally attributed to Confucius.


Spring and Autumn Annals, Duke Ai, fourteenth yearEdit

Chinese originalEdit


English translation (James Legge)Edit

1. In the [duke's] fourteenth year, in spring, [some] hunters in the west captured a lin.

Zuo commentaryEdit

Chinese originalEdit


English translation (James Legge)Edit

The Zhuan says:——'This spring, they were hunting westwards in Daye, and Chushang, one of Shusun's waggoners, captured a lin. Thinking the thing was inauspicious, he gave [the creature] to the forester. Zhongni went to see it and said, "It is a lin;" on which they took it, [and carried it away to the capital].'

Gongyang commentaryEdit

Chinese originalEdit


English translation (James Hsü, 1999)Edit

"In the Spring of the (Duke’s) fourteenth year, they hunted in the West and caught a lin." Why did he record this? Because he wanted to record a strange thing. What is this strange thing? The fact that the lin is not a Chinese animal. Who caught it? The people who collect firewood. These wood collectors are lower class people [common people, rustics.] Then why did Confucius use the term shou for ‘hunting’? [a term which only applies to a royal or state hunt.] Because he wanted to emphasize it. Why did he want to emphasize it? Because they caught the lin. Why did he want to emphasize catching the lin animal? Because the lin is a kind and humane animal [ren shou]. It comes when there is a sage king. If there were no such kings the lin would not come. Someone told Confucius that there was a lin with horn [which was very rare, as opposed to a lin without horn]. Therefore, Confucius said, ‘Who did it come for?’ Confucius wiped his face with his sleeve and his tears stained the front of his robe when Yan Yuan [his favourite disciple] died. Confucius said ‘Heaven must want me dead’ [because there was no one left to carry on his work and promote his ideas.] When another disciple Zi Lu died, Confucius said ‘Heaven curses me.’ And when he heard that the lin had been caught in the Western Regions during a hunt, Confucius said ‘My way [Dao] is blocked.’ [The meaning here is that things are out of joint, abnormal. It is as if the whole world has been turned upsidedown.]

Guliang commentaryEdit

Chinese originalEdit


English translation (James Hsü, 1999)Edit

"In the Spring of the (Duke’s) fourteenth year, they hunted in the West and caught a lin." Why did this event not happen in the State of Lu? [the state where Confucius lived in Shandong Province]. Because this was a parable [a story with a moral lesson]. To use the hunting term shou you would have to mention the place [in other words, the name of the hunting-ground]. But no place is named. This means that it was not really hunting. The reason why it was recorded as ‘hunting’ is because they wanted to emphasize this event, the capture of the lin. That is why they used the term shou for ‘hunting.’ The reason why Confucius did not say that the lin ‘appeared’ is because although the lin was not a Chinese animal, Confucius did not want to exclude it from China. If it had ‘appeared’ or ‘come’ this would mean [in Chinese] that it had come from outside China. So here he used the term ‘hunting’ to include it or adopt it as a Chinese animal. A foreign or ‘outside’ animal would not have affected China. The reason he did not use the character you which means ‘to appear’ or ‘to exist’ to express the idea ‘to have caught’ the lin, is because he did not want to imply that the lin was rare in China, because the lin was a sign of peaceful times. His wish was that the lin should always be in China [even though it was not Chinese and came from the West.] Confucius’ wish that the lin would always be in China meant that he wished that the world would always be peaceful.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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