The Romance of A Sage: Confucius and Nan Zi

Nan Zi was the daughter of the monarch of Song State, and became the second wife of Wei Ling-Gong who was the monarch of Wei State. She was very beautiful, and she was dissolute. Wei Ling-Gong loved her profoundly, and satisfied all hopes of Nan Zi. Nan Zi wanted to meet her elder brother Gongzi Zhao. Gongzi Zhao and Nan Zi had only a father in common. In Song State, they were intimate. So when Nan Zi went to Wei State, she missed her brother and wanted to meet him. Actually Wei Ling-Gong sent an emissary to go to Song State and summon Gongzi Zhao to come to meet his sister. With the arrangement of Wei Ling-Gong, Nan Zi and Gongzi Zhao met in Wei State.

Many people knew this thing, and felt antipathy. When Kuaikui who was the son of the first wife of Wei Ling-Gong and the Taizi (The title of future successor) passed through Song State, he heard some peasants sang a song of satire. He was very ashamed and angry, and said to Xiyang Su, “You follow me to see the Shaojun (The title of the wife of a monarch). When Shaojun meets me, I will look back, and then you can kill her.” Xiyang Su promised. Kuaikui visited Nan Zi, and looked back three times, Xiyang Su didn’t take action. Nan Zi was clever, and detected the intention of Kuaikui. She cried and ran away, and said to Wei Ling-Gong, “Kuaikui want to kill me.” Ling-Gong held Nan Zi’s hand, ascended a balcony and soothed her. Kuaikui feared, and ran to Song State. He told others, “Xiyang Su brought disaster to me.” But Xiyang Su told others, “Taizi brought disaster to me. Taizi is so immoral that he actually wanted me to kill his mother. If I didn’t promise, he would kill me. But if I killed her Ladyship, he would betray me in order to ingratiate himself with the monarch. So I had to promise but not to take action, in order to avoid the death. An adage says, ‘People are defended by fidelity and principle.’ I have fidelity and principle.”

Afterwards, Confucius came to Wei State. Nan Zi knew Confucius was a wise scholar and a skilled warrior. So she wished to meet him. She sent an emissary to invite Confucius and said, “The gentlemen of other states, who want to become brothers with our monarch, must visit our Xiaojun (The title of the wife of a monarch). Our Xiaojun is willing to meet you.” Confucius didn’t want to visit Nan Zi, because he knew the bad publicity of Nan Zi. But the emissary invited him again and again, and he thought if Nan Zi who was loved profoundly by the monarch of Wei State supported him and he could realize his great political ideals in Wei State. So he visited Nan Zi.

Confucius arrived at the palace of Nan Zi. He entered the gate, and saluted with the rite of Qishou (The highest rite of Bai Proprieties which show very much obeisance). Nan Zi knew proprieties as a noble lady, and she saluted with two rites of Bai Proprieties behind a curtain. Nan Zi was excited, and actually was so shy that she couldn’t say anything. She stirred her jade pendants and made them sound very pleasing. This visit was short and polite, but many people thought this was an affair of Confucius, so there were some gossips in Wei State. Zilu, a straightforward student of Confucius, wasn’t pleased. Confucius said, “Essentially I don’t want to visit her, but I had to visit her and only acknowledged the salute.” Zilu asked whether the gossips were true. Confucius answered, “If those gossips are true, the Heaven will desert me!”

Though there were some gossips, Wei Ling-Gong still loved Nan Zi and cottoned to Confucius. Nan Zi knew she couldn’t get the heart of Confucius, so she tried to support Confucius. Confucius and his students were treated very well by the couple of Ling-Gong and Nan Zi. But Ling-Gong wasn’t interested in the ideals of Confucius, so Confucius couldn’t realize his ideals. One day, Wei Ling-Gong and Nan Zi had an outing, and let Confucius and his students accompany them. In streets, the team of Ling-Gong and Nan Zi was very blatant, and many people pointed at Confucius. Confucius felt embarrassed. After this outing, Confucius said, “I have never seen a man who loves virtues as loves beauties.” Then he took his students to leave Wei State, but he let Zilu and Zigao be the family-ministers of Kong Yu who was esteemed by Confucius in Wei State.

In 480 BC, Kuaikui launched a rebellion. Nan Zi killed herself, and Zilu was killed. Confucius was very sad. In the next year, he died.

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