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What does the phrase "praise from Caesar" mean and where does it come from?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The full phrase is usually "Praise from Caesar is praise indeed".

The earliest I can find for the full phrase is 1903's The Smart Set: a Magazine of Cleverness, Volume 9:

oh but the champagne


The earliest I can find for the shorter phrase is 1876's Archaeologia Cantiana, Volume 10:

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It is something to win praise from Caesar, and to have that praise echoed by Shakespeare, but if we may say amicus Caesar we must, as a scientific body, proclaim magis arnica Veritas, and confess that we have no trace of Caesar's ...

The next is closer to our phrase's meaning, from 1889's New Englander and Yale review: Volume 50:

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This is the highest praise, and praise from Caesar, with no note of insularity.


It possibly originates from Horace's Satires 2.1.84 (30BC): iudice laudatus Caesare: "praised by such a judge as Caesar" but it may be coincidental.

Horace

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It means someone has given you a very great compliment, typically in a situation where a compliment would be hard to earn. Caesar was the ruler of Rome and at the time one of the most powerful rulers in the world. To be complimented by him was one of the greatest honors possible, thus the current meaning.

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2  
I always enjoy a complimentary Caesar salad at a fine restaurant. –  Randolf Richardson Oct 5 '11 at 17:20
    
Both Hugo's and this answer are useful, but I prefer this one because it answers the question sufficiently and succinctly. Hugo's certainly isn't wrong, and I appreciate the research and citations, but to me this question didn't need an encyclopedic response. –  John Y Oct 5 '11 at 21:55

After a battle Ceasar looked around and noticed an old Centerian, all bloodied, but still standing. He expressed his admiration for the old warrior's prowess. That's the praise you're talking about, when a young genuis compliments an old master.

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1  
No, that's not what it means. –  Matt Эллен Nov 14 '13 at 12:55
    
Blase Matthews, your spelling of both Caesar and Centurion are a little off and may have impeded any research you did. –  Michael Owen Sartin Nov 14 '13 at 15:54

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