This page presents the vast collection of Classical works translated by Jesuits. Click on any source text to explore a detailed list of its translations available in our database.

A few words on Chinese Classics

The so called Chinese Classics encompass a vast body of literature and philosophical works. The core of those texts, known as the Five Classics (五经 Wu Jing), incorporates the Book of Odes (诗经 Shijing), the Book of Documents (书经 Shujing), the Book of Changes (易经 Yi jing), the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋 Chunqiu), together with one of its commentaries, the Zuo tradition (左传 Zuo zhan), and the Book of Rites (礼记 Liji). A sixth text, the Classic of Music (乐经 Yue jing), is lost, but frequently included in this collection.

During the Tang dynasty, additional texts were incorporated, bringing the total to thirteen texts. These included Etiquette and Rituals (仪礼Yili), the Rites of Zhou (周礼 Zhou li), two commentaries on the Spring and Autumn Annals (the Gongyang Tradition (公羊传 Gongyang Zhuan) and the Guliang Tradition (谷梁传 Guliang Zhuan), the Classic of Filial Piety (孝经 Xiao jing), the Analects of Confucius (论语 Lun yu), Mencius (孟子 Meng zi), and the Erya, a literary lexicon (尔雅 Erya).

The Song era saw the definition of a new foundational group of texts by the Neo-Confucian Zhu Xi: the Four Books (四书 Si shu), which are central to this project. This collection comprised the Analects of Confucius, Mencius, the Great Learning (大学 Daxue), and the Doctrine of the Mean (中庸 Zhong yong).

The Mingxin baojian (明心宝鉴) is a different case: although not a classic itself, it was translated by Michele Ruggieri in 1591 together with the four Confucian classics. The text is a collection of aphorisms and excerpts from Chinese classics in a style similar to the European literary genre of the Mirror for princes (Specula principum).