November 25, 2012 3:34 am

Confucius helped shape Chinese civilization. He lived a quiet life and made no great discoveries. But by teaching people to respect old ideas of good behavior, he set standards that are still admired today.
Confucius was born in Lu, a state in northeast China, about 551 bc. His father died when he was three years old, and he grew up very poor. Even so, Confucius got a good education. He married young, and worked as a laborer to support his wife and children. Then in 527 bc, he began a new career as a teacher.
Confucius found the government of China corrupt and lawless. He wanted reform. Confucius studied the writings of ancient Chinese sages(wise men), and he taught their ideas to his students. He said that people should be kind, honest, polite, wise, and obedient. They should respect their parents and honor their ancestors. They should be good citizens.
Confucius also encouraged rulers to set an example of good behavior. He believed that people would copy the rulers. Everyone would then live peacefully, and the Chinese people would be rich and happy.
About 501 bc, Confucius was made a judge. The next year, he became the government official in charge of law and order in his home state of Lu. This gave him the chance to make laws based on his own teachings. They were very successful! In his state, crime almost disappeared. But jealous rivals plotted against him, and he was dismissed in 496 bc.
Confucius spent the next 12 years as a teacher. He won great fame and respect. In 484 bc, he retired to Lu, where he died about 5 years later. Confucius never wrote down his teachings. But his students remembered them and wrote them down. These teachings and later writings were collected in the SiShu (Four Books). These books were studied by Chinese scholars for the next 2,400 years, and they still guide many Chinese communities.
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