This Maxim is more than merely a rehashing of “Respect the elder”, it is something that points out the level of honor with which we should hold those who have come before us. This is in some ways like the Biblical commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother” but, in my opinion, it goes beyond that. It elevates our ancestors to the level of family ‘protective spirits’ that we need to honor similarly to the way the Romans would honor the lares and penates (household gods).
When you crown something you are elevating it above the common level. In the Orthodox Christian wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are symbolically crowned as rulers of their new household. It is this custom that leads me to the conclusion that when we do this with our ancestors, we are acknowledging their place as ‘above’ us in the Cosmos and that we owe them the debt of our lives. This is not to say that parents are right when they say we ‘owe them’ (as abusive parents often do), but rather that without our ancestors we would not be here to learn about the world and grow in the knowledge of the Gods. And if we consider the Gods themselves to be our first ancestors, as many religions in the world have done, it makes this Maxim all the more important as we honor the Gods when we honor our progenitors.