An apt, underused phrase spoken by Antony
in William Shakesphere
's Julius Caesar
, act III, scene II, that conveys a richer meaning than his more famous call for lent ears.
As Caesar lies in a pool of blood in the Roman Senate, Brutus tells a crowd of plebians what has just happened, and why Caesar's unrelenting ambition for power lead to his assassination. The crowd cheers Brutus on, wishing him to be the new Caesar. Brutus exits stage, and offsider Antony delivers this famous eulogy:
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
..and so on, but from starting off endorsing Brutus's action, he reminds the crowd that Julius wasn't really such a bad bloke, that his death was regrettable, and after reading aloud Julius Caesar's will, that expressed how fond he really was of his citizens, the crowd instead becomes enraged at the conspirators. A riot ensues.
The evil that men do live after them. The good is oft interred with the bones,
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus,
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious...
The expression is meant to sober people into providing a sense of due respect when talking about foes recently vanquished. It dignifies a sordid event that the speaker implies would be best forgotten rather than gloated about. Most importantly, the speaker can comfortably say this phrase about somebody without being accused of being their friend, and in fact they will glow in magnanimity.
Said in reference to a living person, the meaning changes:
It is time to bury Mugabe, not to praise him
(ref: secure.financialmail.co.za/03/0117/bookfront/cedop.htm )
It is time to bury Fassel, not to praise him
(ref: www.insidefootball.com/nw_letters/ 2003/12_03/121903.htm )
But it works figuratively if only the subject's career is dead. Indeed, somebody has probably used this phrase to explain why they attended an office farewell party for an unpopular co-worker.