Confucius (born Kong Qiu, styled Zhong Ni) was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu in 551 B.C., a
poor descendant of a deposed noble family. As a child, he held make-believe temple rituals; as a young adult, he quickly
earned a reputation for fairness, politeness and love of learning, and he was reputed to be quite tall. He traveled
extensively and studied at the imperial capital, Zhou, where he is said to have met and spoke with Lao Zi, the founder of
Upon his return to Lu, he gained renown as a teacher, but when he was 35, Duke Zhao of Lu led his country to war, was
routed and fled to the neighboring country of Qi; in the disorder following the battle, Confucius followed. Duke
Zhao frequently came to him for advice, but upon counsel of one of his ministers, he decided against granting land to
Confucius and gradually stopped seeking his counsel. When other nobles began plotting against Confucius' position,
Duke Zhao refused to intervene, and Confucius returned to Lu. But conditions there were no better than before, and
Confucius retired from public life to concentrate on teaching and studying.
At age 50, he was approached by the Baron of Qi to help defend against a rebellion, but he declined. He was later made
a city magistrate by the new Duke of Lu, and under his administration the city flourished; he was promoted several
times, eventually becoming Grand Secretary of Justice and, at age 56, Chief Minister of Lu. Neighboring countries
began to worry that Lu would become too powerful, and they sent messengers with gifts and dancers to distract the
duke during a sacrifice holiday. When the duke abandoned his duties to receive the messengers, Confucius resigned and
left the country.