This essay describes a distinct model for intellectual participation in public life promoted by the Tian kings of Qi during the Warring States Period (418–221 B.C.E.). Recent scholarship has too often assumed that categories like “Master,” “disciple,” and “school” had broadly conventional and stable meanings in early China, and that the social patterns of intellectual life ran along common and predictable lines established by these constructs. In fact, however, the sources demonstrate that all of the different categories with which intellectual life was depicted in early texts were heatedly contested and prone to volatile fluctuations in meaning and usage, as different interest groups fought to establish preferred parameters for the conduct of intellectual life. The Tian kings of Qi, in support of their bold usurpation of the Qi throne from the Lü clan, promoted a model for intellectual life radically different than the highly personal Master-disciple bond depicted in the Analects. In patronage texts like the Guanzi and Yanzi chunqiu, the Tian kings advocated that intellectuals identify with the Qi state in the abstract rather than with an individual “Master” or particular “school,” and that they should do so anonymously as thinkers, teachers, students, and writers in the service of Qi. The Jixia patronage community arose as a compromise between this advocacy position of the Tian kings and the preferences of the intellectual community at large, which generally favored the maintenance of the personal prestige of individual Masters. Jixia was founded on the basis of patronage practices that were widely current among powerful and wealthy figures of the Warring States, but Jixia itself was very atypical of such patronage communities. Unlike other client retinues, Jixia was made up exclusively of intellectuals who were lodged as clients of the Qi state rather than of an individual patron. Also, the dispensation of emoluments to individual clients was not tightly controlled at Jixia as in other patronage communities, but was “subcontracted” to the few Grand Masters who retained their own large retinues of disciples. Jixia thus combined the Tian king's desire to subordinate intellectual activity to state service while preserving to a degree the autonomous prerogatives that intellectuals had established for themselves and their own chosen leaders.