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Author:  wiz [ 15 Feb 2014 16:44 ]


In a recent article in "The Times", Roger Scranton, publisher of the "Salisbury Review" outrageously claims that moral order dictates that Britain should keep the Elgin Marbles because Britain is the "true heir of Pericles' democracy"! In another issue of the "The Times" a translation of the Sultan's firman, authorising Lord Elgin to loot the Parthenon - the "Temple of Idols" as it is called - was published, apparently to support the legitimacy of Elgin's actions. But instead of strengthening the British position, these attempts at justification merely do the opposite.

Another argument put forward is that the Elgin Marbles belong to all Europeans since they are the heritage of a common European culture. This argument also favours the Greek position because if the marbles are part of a common European heritage, so is the Parthenon and since the marbles are an integral part of that edifice, they should be returned to it.

The Cultural Committee of the Council of Europe has recommended that the sculptures be retained in London, where they have been adequately preserved so far, and should not be exposed to the "polluted air of Athens".

Also, there is a recently-accepted tradition that "certain works of art should not be transported to a Museum in their country of origin if they are very fragile and if they can be preserved in a different climate". The Committee seems to ignore the fact that the marbles suffered considerable damage in London's damp climate, as Elgin himself reports, and they should take a look at the damage sustained by the sculptures of the Temple of Epicurean Apollo in the hall of the same name in the British Museum.

Moreover the Committee seems unaware of the fact that a Nitrogen Air-Conditioning Hall has been built in Athens where the Caryatids will be sheltered and protected from the city's pollution. Other relative measures are being taken to preserve the Elgin Marbles if and when they are eventually returned.

Incidentally, the recommendations of the Cultural Committee in this respect were virtually rejected by the plenum of the Council of Europe which has recommended to Britain and Greece to conduct negotiations for the return of the Marbles.

In November 1983 Mr Michael Foot, then leader of the Labour opposition in Parliament, pointed out that the methods by which the Elgin Marbles were detached from the Parthenon and removed from Greece, without the approval or consent of the Greek people, have been denounced by many Englishmen, with Lord Byron in the forefront. He asked the British government to examine seriously the Greek demand for the restitution of the marbles to Greece since such a demand has been made by a "friendly and democratic government."

Author:  wiz [ 29 Sep 2018 12:25 ]

Brexit chisels away any right Britain had to the Parthenon marbles

By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - Guardian 25 Sep 2018


"If we leave Europe, we should finally have the decency to return Greece’s plundered heritage"

The Acropolis Museum in Athens is an architectural marvel that has rightly won awards. The way the remaining Parthenon marbles are bathed in sunlight and overlooked by the temple that was their original site is profoundly beautiful. But what I found most affecting when I visited last week was the deliberate absences in the exhibits – spaces pointedly left blank for the day when, Greeks hope, the rest of the sculptures that were carved by Phidias and his assistants circa 447–438BC will be returned.

Many readers will no doubt be aware that many of these priceless sculptures, once better known as the Elgin marbles, reside in a gloomy room in the British Museum, having been torn from the Parthenon in the early 1800s by Lord Elgin. It is a subject of great controversy, but one that most Britons, especially those who are young and not of an imperialistic bent, struggle to care about. When polled in 2014 by YouGov, only 23% of British people wanted to keep them.

In contrast, Greeks continue to care deeply, and Brexit has provided an opportunity for their government to exercise some pressure. After all, the UK government will need approval from all EU member states if a Brexit deal is reached. Rather cannily, last August, Greece’s then culture minister, Lydia Koniordou, sent a letter to Jeremy Wright, our culture secretary, requesting the opening of negotiations regarding the marbles. It’s ironic that, at a time when Brexit has revived the sort of jingoistic imperialism that turns many a remainer’s stomach, such symbols of British cultural chauvinism should be questioned.

Read more here:

There are many powerful arguments for returning the marbles. I would advise anyone interested to listen to an old debate, in which Andrew George, chair of Marbles Reunite and a Liberal Democrat MP, and the actor Stephen Fry called for the marbles to be returned to Athens. They appealed to a British sense of fair play, pointing out that it would be less a humiliating climbdown, more a gesture of friendship to Greece and its people.


Very interesting debate to watch. [thumbs.gif]

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