What do the direct speeches tell us about the place of divination in Zhou politics? How does the passage demonstrate the Zhou’s reliance on male ancestor worship? 

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.  Ancestor veneration was quite common in China, and continues to some extent even today.  It is an act of filial piety, which is a Confucian tradition that mandates respect for one's elders, particularly within one's own family.  An example of this practice is demonstrated when the duke of Chou offers a prayer for the sick king to the father, grandfather and great grandfather.  This action was so important that it was recorded by the scribe.  When the king is healed of the sickness, he attributes his newfound health to his male ancestors.  

2.  Divination is a practice that traditional religions commonly utilize to predict future events.  The concept is to utilize some instrument to channel knowledge from the gods.  In the case of this article, the duke utilizes three tortoises (tortoise oracle).  The tortoises foretold the healing of the king.  When the weather wreaks havoc on the crops in the fall, the king conveniently declares they will not use solemn divination.  The duke and king were quite close and the king probably does not wish to chance a divination ceremony.