Towards an Unusual speculum principis? Virtues in the Confucius Sinarum Philosophus’s Proemialis Declaratio

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Andrea Balbo
Elisa Della Calce
Simone Mollea


The Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) represents one of the first attempts to translate some fundamental texts of Confucianism into a European language, Latin. In doing this, the Jesuits—and Philippe Couplet in particular—paid attention to the right ways to present Confucius to a Western audience. This appears all the more clear in the Proemialis Declaratio, a long introduction to the work. This paper focuses on those value concepts (pietas, iustitia, and prudentia), which are important both to Confucian and Western Greco-Latin Cultures and which contribute to reading relevant passages of this introduction as a speculum principis, thereby enhancing the success of this work in the French court of Louis XIV.

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