Duke Ai Criticized the King of Lu for Accepting the Caldron of Kao
(A historical event around 710 B.C.)
Tzuoo's Interpretation of Spring-Fall
In April, the beginning of summer, the King of Country Lu accepted the
worshipping caldron 1 of Country Kao from Country Sung. On the 20th,
he placed it in his ancestral temple. The decision to display the bribe in
public was improper.
Duke Ai advised, "A king demonstrates virtue and opposes evil when addressing
his court officials. He still worries that his country may suffer moral
deterioration, so he emphasizes virtue when teaching his offspring.
Consequently, he uses thatch to build the roof of his temple, paves the road
with large leaves for his carriage, cooks meals without sauces and seasonings,
and eats coarse rather than refined rice. He does all this in order to
demonstrate frugality. Colorful clothes, hats with jade pendants, courtier
tablets 2, belts, pants, puttees, hat trappings, and hairpins are
used to show social propriety. The colored patterns on clothes and scarves, as
well as decorations on sheathes, family flags, and a horse's reins follow
esthetic principles. The embroidered dragons or fire on clothes, as well as the
pattern of swords, axes and bows on pants symbolize the splendor of wisdom. Six
colors that symbolize directions 3 are used to describe the character
of a tangible object. The sound of bells on a horse's harness, on a carriage,
and on family flags symbolizes rhythm and harmony. The embroidered sun, moon,
stars, tigers, and dragons on flags symbolize enlightenment.
"To help court officials gain virtue, a king must be frugal and adhere to
social standards, understand gain and loss with wisdom, distill thoughtful
writings and historical lessons into moral codes, and promote virtue using music
or teachings. As a result, the court officials will be alert and careful. They
will not dare to violate the law. Now you have accepted a bribe, established a
rebel general as the king, put the bribe in your ancestral temple, and displayed
it to the public. If the officials follow your example of accepting a bribe, how
could you reproach them? The deterioration of a country starts from the
corruption of its officials. The loss of their virtue is due to the
encouragement of bribes and the practice of favoritism. Is there anything that
would encourage more crime than putting the caldron of Kuo in the temple? After
Emperor Wu conquered the Shang dynasty (1751 B.C.-1111 B.C.), he moved the
worshipping caldron of Shang to City L instead of leaving the evil symbol at the
capital. Despite their approval of sending the caldron away from the capital,
there were some virtuous critics who reproached him for keeping the evil symbol
at all. Considering this, how can you put a caldron symbolizing a bribe in your
The king ignored Duke Ai's criticism. The Official Historian of the Emperor
of Chou heard the story and said, "Duke Ai had a great vision of Country Lu's
future. Although the king violated the law, the duke did not forget to admonish
him by emphasizing moral principles."
The rebel general, Hua, of Country Sung killed his king and declared
himself king. The King of Lu united his army at City C with those of the King of
Country Chyi, the King of Country Chen, and the King of Country Cheng. They
attempted to crush the rebellion. General Hua bribed each of the above kings.
The King of Lu accepted the caldron as a bribe. Utimately, the above kings all
agreed to establish the rebel general as the King of Country Sung.
A courtier tablet is a tablet about three feet long, made of ivory, jade,
wood, or bamboo, held before the breast by courtiers in audience before the
Deep red represents heaven, yellow represents earth, greens represents
east, white represents west, red represents south, and black represent north.