Yu the Great (from the Shang Shu)

Yu the Great
(traditionally dated to the 21st century BCE or earlier)

“If a ruler knows how to rule properly and if this is echoed in the conduct of the officials and the execution of their responsibilities, then the Affairs of State will run smoothly.”

  • A saying attributed to the legendary figure, Yu the Great, in The Book of Documents/The Most Venerable Book (Shang Shu, chapter 3). Authorship of the text is vague, but the documents were said to have been edited by Confucius (c. 551-479 BCE). The translation used here is by Martin Palmer, Jay Ramsay and Victoria Finlay (Penguin Classic, 2014).

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