Confucius was frustrated in his political life, but he became a great teacher in his old age. Confucius taught poetry, history, ceremonies, and music to three thousand students and seventy-two of them mastered "the Six Arts". There were a great number of people who came to study under him. The following are some of Confucius' most famous students.
Also known as Tzu Yuan and Yan Yuan. He is from the country Lu. He was one of the outstanding students in the early teaching career of Confucius. He also followed Confucius as he traveled around the countries. He was the most accomplished student in the category of morality and had great success in virtue and the classics. He was the only person to be praised by Confucius as a humane man. His hair went white when he was twenty-nine, and he died when he was thirty-one years old.
Also known as Tzu Ch'ien. He is from the country of Lu. He was the second best student in the category of morality. He was well known for maintaining harmony within his family. His mother died when he was young, and he was raised by his stepmother. His stepmother only loved her own sons. For example, she gave her two sons clothes which were made of nice material in winter, but nothing to Min Sun. One day Min Sun's father found out that the stepmother did not treat Min Sun like her own children, so he wanted her to leave the family. Min Sun begged his father and said, "When Mother is here, only I will be starved, but if she is gone, there will be three children starved." Min Sun's stepmother was very regretful for treating Min Sun so badly when she knew what Min Sun had said, so she changed her attitude and treated Min Sun like her own child.
Duan Mu Ts'u
Also known as Tzu Gong. He is from the country of Wei. He was one of the most important and faithful students in the early part of Confucius' teaching career. He also followed Confucius on his travels aboard. He was the second best in the category of speech among Confucius' students, and later he became a famous diplomatist who often represented Lu on visits to other places. He was very persuasive, and was sometimes able to change the entire political situation in a country.
Also known as Tzu Lu and Ji Lu. He is from the country of Lu. He was one of Confucius' favorite, earliest, closest, most faithful students. He also traveled around the countries with Confucius. He was the second best in the statecraft among Confucius' students, and he was famous for his courage and his sense of justice. When he first met Confucius he took out an arrow and said, " The arrow shaft is made of bamboo and it is naturally straight, craftsman doesn't need to bend it." Confucius answered, "I know what you mean. You are trying to tell me that some people are born with talent, so they don't need to go to school, right? But I am telling you, an arrow flies straight not only because of the shaft of the arrow, you also need to add the arrowhead and the feather at the end to make it fly straight. So the talented people also need education to make them better." After listening to what Confucius said, Tzu Lu went to visit Confucius and ask if he could become a student.
Also known as Tzu Yu. He is from the country of Wu. He was one of the most important students in the later part of Confucius' teaching, and he was also the best in the category of classics among Confucius' students. There are four chapters in the Analects containing his sayings. He first became a magistrate and ruled by rituals and music. Later he started his own school and taught the thoughts of Confucius.
Also known as Tzu Hsia. He is from the country of Wei. He was one of the important students in the later part of Confucius' teaching. The Analects contain thirteen chapters of his sayings. He was an expert in the classics, especially in the Book of Poetry. Confucius made a great impression on him. Confucius used to say, "Tzu Hsia will continue to be improved because he likes to be with wise people,and he will be assimilated, just like when you go into a room which has pleasant smell, you won't feel the smell anymore after you stay there for a long time."
Also known as Tzu Yu. He is from the country of Lu. He was one of the greatest students in the later part of Confucius' teaching career. There are twelve and a half chapters of his sayings in the Analects. He is famous because he was a very good son to his father. One day, when Zeng Ts'an was young, he was digging out weeds in the melon field when he accidentally hurt the root of the melon. His father was very mad and almost beat him to death. When Zeng Ts'an woke up, he still went to play his instrument and sang to show that he was alright. When Confucius heard of this he said, "The sons or the daughters should stand it if it is a small punishment, but Zeng Ts'an should go away or else his father will get a bad reputation. How could he think that is an action of a good son?" Zeng Ts'an went to apologize to Confucius when he knew what Confucius had said of his actions, and he and his father's relationship became even better. Many people then came to know of Zeng Ts'an through his good reputation.
Gong Ye Chang
Also known as Tzu Chang. He is from the country of Lu. He was one of the major disciples in the early period of Confucius' teaching career. Although he was once imprisoned, Confucius had faith in him and married his daughter to him.
Also known as Tzu You and Jan You. He is from the country of Lu. He was one of the important students in Confucius' early teaching career. He also followed Confucius as he traveled around the countries. He was the leading student in the category of statecraft. After he defeated the invading force of Qi, he recommended Confucius to the Duke of Lu. That is why the Duke of Lu finally invited Confucius to return to his homeland after fourteen years of traveling. Fan Hsu Also known as Fan Ch'ih and Tzu Ch'ih. He is from the country of Lu. He used to be the house officer in a noble house. He fought well in a battle and helped his commander to defeat the enemy. Kong Li Also known as Bo Yu. He is Confucius' son , and also from the country of Lu. When he was born, the Duke of Lu gave Confucius a carp as a gift. That is how Kong got his name. His name appears in two chapters of the Analects, and he died three years earlier than his father, Confucius.