What is called a great minister is one who serves his prince according to what is right; and when he finds he cannot do so, retires.

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 11.23 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Legge (1861)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Men I call statesmen are those who will serve their master according to their sense of duty; who, however, when they find they cannot do that, consistently, with their sense of duty, will resign." [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "Those whom we call 'great ministers' are such as serve their prince conscientiously, and who, when they cannot do so, retire." [tr. Wilson (1900)]
  • "He who may be called a great minister is one who serves his Prince according to the right, and when that cannot be, resigns." [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • "A great minister is a minister who serves his lord by following the Way, and who resigns as soon as the two are no longer reconcilable." [tr. Leys (1997)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Dec-20
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