But at any rate: I realized, after some rather extensive research led me to a surprising discovery, that while virtually everyone can cite famous quotes ... it's very rare to know the context surrounding them. So much so that if you were to step back even a single sentence from the famous line everyone knows, the origin of that line could be much harder to piece together.
To illustrate this, I'm going to offer you two Line Befores. Here are the rules. To answer a LB, post the person who wrote or said that line. Also, please track down the LB from a favorite famous quip of yours (you will probably have to go back to your source poem/prose, or Google the transcript of the speech that spawned it), and post that in the same reply. That'll help keep a stream of LBs up and give other people a chance to play along.
If someone's already posted the author of a LB you know, you can add the famous quote that follows it. But no Googling in order to post the famous quote! (Googling for the author might be in bad form, too, but I suspect it's sometimes necessary.)
Memeify if desired; you can repost the rules and a Line Before in your own journal if you want.
So here are my seed LBs -- an easier one from a poem, and the other one that started me going:
"Thousands at his bidding speed, and post o'er land and ocean without rest."
"Okay, I'm going to step off the lem now."