The Five Classics

While I am up to Homer’s Odyssey in my chronological journey, looking forward a little brings us to the Chinese Classics and as these may take some tracking down, I’ll post a quick note now.

The Five Classics were all written before 221 BC, and form part of the base of Confucianism. The five texts are :

  • The Book of Poetry (Songs), or Shi jing, a collection of over 300 songs and hymns,
  • The Book of Documents, or Shu jing, a collection of speeches from kings and other important personages,
  • The Book of Changes, or I Ching – a book used for divination, where the reader uses random numbers generated by yarrow sticks, or more recently, coin tosses, to receive guidance in decision-making,
  • The Book of Rites, or Li ji or Li jing, a series of texts describing social forms and ceremonial rites,
  • The Spring and Autumn Annals, a history of the State of Lu between 722 and 481 BC.

There was a sixth title, the Book of Music, which no longer exists.

Both for the literary content and my personal interest, and the ease of obtaining copies to read, I will only seek out the Book of Poetry and the I Ching for this project.

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