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Confucius (551-479 BC), though of noble descent, was born in humble circumstances. He believed that politics is only an extension of morals, and spent ten years travelling through the various states of China spreading his ideas. When he realised that there was no way of converting the feudal rulers to his way of thinking he returned to Lu and spent the rest of his life there teaching his pupils.
Confucius did not regard himself as an innovator, but as the conservator of ancient truth and ceremonial propriety. He dealt with neither theology nor metaphysics, but with moral and political conduct. The Lun Yu, Analects or Sayings of Confucius, were probably compiled, says Legge, "by the disciples of the disciples of the sage, making free use of the written memorials concerning him which they had received, and the oral statements which they had heard, from their several masters. And we shall not be far wrong, if we determine its date as about the beginning of the third, or the end of the fourth century before Christ."