‘standing on the shoulders of giants’
This is attributed to Bernard of Chartres and also John of Salisbury, in the twelfth century. The latter is known to have used other people’s words without crediting them. Bernard’s original specifies dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, an analogy requiring no immediate explanation, yet one that could be elaborated on with the only limitation being in a person’s imagination.
This phrase is best known in England for its use by Isaac Newton in his expression of admiration of the scholars who laid the groundwork he built on.
Isaac Newton: If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.