Confucius appeared, according to Mencius, one of his most distinguished followers (371-288 B.C.), at a crisis in the nation's history.
Mencius says that he undertook such mean offices because of his poverty, and distinguished himself by the efficiency with which he discharged them, without any attempt to become rich.
Mencius, Hsiin King and writers of the Han dynasty, whose works, however, are more or less apocryphal, tell us much about him and his opinions, but all in a loose and unconnected way.
Mencius held that the composition of the Ch'un Ch'iu was as great a work as Yu's regulation of the waters of the deluge with which the Shu King commences, and did for the face of society what the earlier labour did for the face of nature.
"That in which men differ from brute beasts," says Mencius, "is a thing very inconsiderable; the common herd lose it very soon; superior men preserve it carefully."