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Author:  wiz [ 20 Jun 2009 19:32 ]



When the Parthenon was built between 447BC and 432BC, three sets of sculptures, the metopes, the frieze and the pediments, were created to adorn it. Of these, the metopes and the frieze were part of the structure of the Parthenon itself. They were not carved first and then put in place, high up on the Parthenon, but were carved on the sides of the Parthenon itself after it had been constructed.

The metopes were individual sculptures in high relief. There were 92 metopes, 32 on each side and 14 at each end and each metope was separated from its neighbours by a simple archtitectural decoration called a triglyph, The metopes were placed around the building, above the outside row of columns and showed various mythical battles. The north side showed scenes from the Trojan war; the south side showed a battle between the Greeks and the Centaurs -- part man, part horse; the east side showed the Olympian gods fighting giants and the west side showed a battle between Greeks and Amazons.

The frieze , 160 metres long, was placed above the inner row of columns, so it was not so prominently displayed. It is one long, continuous sculpture in low relief, showing the procession to the temple at the Panathenaic festival.

At either end of the temple, in the large triangular space, the pediment statues in the round were placed. These were designed to fill the space so that those at the highest point of the triangle are enormous. The pediment sculptures have been so badly damaged that we only know what they represent because of the writings of the Greek writer and traveller Pausanias, who was active around 150 AD. According to him, the sculptures in the east pediment represent the birth of Athena from the head of Zeus and the sculptures in the west pediment represent the struggle between Athena and Poseidon for the land of Attica.

The real glory of the temple, however, was housed inside. The statue of the goddess Athena was about 40 feet (12 metres) high, and gold and ivory was used to decorate it. This statue was damaged by fire as early as 200BC and it is thought that a new statue replaced it in 165-160BC. Unlike the Parthenon Marbles, the statue did not survive antiquity.

Not all of the Parthenon Marbles, however, survive down to the present day. There were originally 115 panels in the frieze. Of these, ninety-four still exist, either intact or broken. Thirty six are in Athens, fifty-six are in the British Museum and one is in the Louvre. Of the original ninety-two metopes, thirty-nine are in Athens and fifteen are in London. Seventeen pedimental statues, including a caryatid and a column from the Erechtheion are also in the British Museum. So the Parthenon Marbles are almost equally divided -- half in London and half in Athens.

It is precisely because the surviving sculptures are to be found in two countries 1500 miles apart that the Greek government has requested the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum so that they can be reunited in one collection, in a museum which was built at the foot of the Acropolis Hill on which the remains of the Parthenon temple stand.

Author:  wiz [ 20 Jun 2009 19:47 ]

Greece opens Acropolis Museum with lavish party...
but Elgin Marbles row means Britain isn't invited

By Daily Mail Reporter on 20th June 2009

The golden age of ancient Athens comes to life tonight as Greece opens its new Acropolis Museum with a lavish party, bolstering its campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain.

Years of delays and criticism about the museum's hulking design and location in the capital's old district come to an end with a £2.5million opening ceremony to be attended by foreign heads of state and government - though conspicuously not from the United Kingdom.

The reinforced concrete and glass structure sits near the foot of the ancient citadel like a skewed stack of glass boxes.

The 'Kores' statues are projected on the walls of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, under the temple of Parthenon

With UV coating on its walls of windows, air filters and climate control, the £110million museum is Greece's answer to the argument that it had nowhere to safely house the frieze pried off the Parthenon in the 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin and currently displayed in the British Museum.
'This new state of the art Acropolis Museum now demolishes that excuse,' said Culture Minister Antonis Samaras, who on Friday described the sculptures widely known as the Parthenon, or Elgin, Marbles, as being in 'enforced exile.'
Greece sees the return of the sculptures - part of a stunning 525-foot marble frieze mainly of a religious procession that adorned the top of the ancient citadel's grandest structure, the Parthenon - as an issue of national pride.
The Parthenon was built at the height of Athens' glory between 447-432 B.C. in honor of the city's patron goddess, Athena.

Despite its conversion into a Christian church, and Ottoman occupation from the 15th century, it survived virtually intact until a Venetian cannon shot caused a massive explosion in 1687

Marbles row: People are given a tour in the Parthenon marbles. The new museum opens today

Ancient figures are projected onto the wall of a building watched by Athenians and tourists outside the museum

Author:  wiz [ 20 Jun 2009 20:33 ]


About the Parthenon and the Parthenon Marbles

When and why was the Parthenon built?

2500 years ago, the city of Athens was attacked by soldiers from Persia. The Athenians had to leave their city. Eventually they managed to defeat the Persians but Athens was now a ruin. It would have to be rebuilt. The man who took charge of rebuilding Athens was called Pericles. He got all the best architects, sculptors and other craftsmen together and they rebuilt Athens. It was full of wonderful buildings. But the best building of all was the Parthenon.

What was the Parthenon?

The Parthenon was a temple to the goddess Athena. It was built on top of a hill called the Acropolis. You could see it from all over Athens. Inside the Parthenon there was a huge statue of the goddess Athena. Outside the Parthenon, high up on its four walls there was a frieze. This frieze was a series of sculptures that went all the way round the building. These sculptures were not added to the building. The sculptors actually cut the frieze out of the very stone which formed the walls of the building. Many people think that this frieze is one of the most wonderful works of art ever created.

What happened to the Parthenon?

The Parthenon did not remain a temple to Athena for ever. The statue of Athena was destroyed. When Europe became Christian, the temple was turned into a church. Later, the Turks took over Athens and they turned it into a mosque. However, the building survived for hundreds and hundreds of years. Then in 1687 an Italian general called Francesco Morosini arrived in Athens. He was at war with the Turks. He fired on the Acropolis. He knew that the Turks were using the Parthenon as an arsenal -- where weapons are stored. The Parthenon was full of gunpowder. One of the shells fired by Morosini landed in the Parthenon and all the gunpowder exploded. This did terrible damage to the Parthenon. The roof was blown off and everything inside was destroyed. But, as if by a miracle, the frieze survived.

Who was Lord Elgin?

Elgin was a Scottish Lord who hoped to do well in politics. At the beginning of the 19th century Lord Elgin was appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. The capital of the Ottoman Empire was in Istanbul in what is now called Turkey. At that time relations between Britain and Turkey were very good. Why? Egypt had been part of the Ottoman Empire until Napoleon, the French general, defeated the Turks and occupied Egypt. The British defeated Napoleon and the French left Egypt. As a result the Turks were very grateful to the British.

Why did Elgin take the Marbles?

Lord Elgin wanted to find some ancient Greek statues to decorate his mansion in Scotland. He travelled in Greece, looking for things to send back to Britain. He employed an artist to make drawings of Greek statues and buildings. When he came to the Acropolis he was given permission to remove anything which was lying on the ground. But Elgin decided to take the statues of the Parthenon frieze and send them back to England.

As I explained above, this frieze was actually part of the building. It wasn't stuck on. So in order to take the frieze, Elgin had to get workmen to saw the frieze off the building. It also involved destroying parts of the building in order to lower the sculptures to the ground. Elgin did a lot of damage to the Parthenon building.

Elgin took about half of the frieze and some other sculptures from the Parthenon. He sent them back to England. After that things went very badly for Elgin. He found himself so short of money that he decided to sell the Parthenon Marbles to the British government. Some Members of Parliament thought that Elgin had done a terrible thing in removing the Parthenon Marbles. However, it was decided to buy the Parthenon Marbles from Elgin and put them in the British Museum. And they have stayed there ever since.

Why didn't the Greeks stop Elgin?

When Elgin took the Parthenon Marbles, Greece was not an independent country. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Turks ruled in the lands of the Greeks. So the Greeks were not able to stop Elgin from taking the Marbles. Twenty years later the Greeks started a war of independence and soon Greece became an independent country. Immediately the Greeks demanded the return of the Parthenon Marbles, but their request was refused.

The Campaign for the return of the Marbles to Athens

In the early 1980s, a famous Greek actress called Melina Mercouri became Minister of Culture in the Greek government. She began the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. That campaign continues today, although Melina Mercouri died in 1994.

Arguments in favour of returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

1. The Parthenon Marbles were stolen from Greece by Lord Elgin. Elgin did not have permission to cut sculptures from the Parthenon. He only had permission to take pieces that were lying on the ground.

2. It is wrong that half of the Parthenon Marbles are in London and half are in Athens. They should all be in the same place. They were created in Athens, so they should be on display in Athens.

3. The British Museum has not looked after the Marbles as well as they say they have. In the 1930s the Marbles were cleaned. This cleaning damaged the surface of the Marbles.

Arguments against returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece

1. If Lord Elgin hadn't taken the Marbles they would have been destroyed by the Turks.
(But is this true? The sculptures Elgin left behind were not destroyed by the Turks).

2. If the Marbles hadn't gone to the British Museum they would have been destroyed by pollution in Athens.

(This is a better argument because the Parthenon did suffer from pollution in the 1950s and 1960s. But the Parthenon Marbles suffered in London. They were stored in a coal shed for many years while Elgin was trying to sell them to the government. The coal shed was very damp and this damaged the Marbles).

3. Many people see the Parthenon Marbles in the British Musuem. If they go back to Athens, fewer people will see them.
(This is not a good argument. The Marbles belong to Greece, not to us. They are stolen property. Also, more and more people travel today and they can go to Athens to see the Marbles).

4. Many people worry that other countries, like Egypt, will want the British Museum to return exhibits taken from their countries and so the British Museum will be emptied of its contents.

(However, there are many rooms of exhibits from Greece including large parts of two Greek temples, and the Greek government has said it doesn't want anything back except the Parthenon Marbles. Also the Greek government has offered to lend the British Museum the best of its collection on a rotating basis if the Marbles are returned. Egypt has also declared that it is not seeking the return of Ancient Egyptian exhibits in the British Museum).

What do you think?

Do you think that the Parthenon Marbles should stay in London
or do you think they should go back to Athens?

Author:  wiz [ 20 Jun 2009 21:21 ]

Italy returns marble to Greece!

Italy returns marble to Greece

Acropolis museum raises Marbles' hopes

As the new Acropolis museum opens in Athens, Frank Partridge investigates whether the long-running dispute between Britain and Greece over the Parthenon Marbles will be resolved.

Museums are not renowned as places of high drama, but everything about the glassy, angular structure that has appeared at the foot of Acropolis Hill is dramatic.

The design is provocative, the contents breathtaking, and its showpiece gallery is intended to deliver a cultural and political thunderbolt as powerful as anything the goddess Athena once threw.

Five years after Athens staged a resoundingly successful Olympic Games, the pride of the city has shifted from sport to art.

As I waited to meet the man who has brought this about, I did an unscientific survey in a cafe across the street.

"I'm convinced the Marbles will come back," said Apostolos.

Anna said: "This is a key monument in world history. It should be complete."

"We'll always admire the British if they do the honourable thing," said Yannis.

Ordinary Athenians, stopping for morning coffee on the way to the office, really care about the legacy of their ancestors. They learn about it on their mother's knee. It is part of their DNA.

Read the full story here:

BBC today

Author:  wiz [ 23 Jun 2009 11:47 ]

The Parthenon and the Acropolis

by Jerry Camarillo Dunn, Jr

Suppose a postage stamp were issued to commemorate the birthplace of democracy and western culture.
What picture would be chosen for it?

Very likely it would be a view of the Acropolis, the hill where the graceful, white Parthenon rises against the blue sky of Greece. This temple dates to the fifth century B.C., and even today, with the smog of modern Athens around it, the Parthenon radiates purity and perfection -- qualities that define the Greek classical age.

Made up of limestone and red schist, the Acropolis and its slopes were inhabited as many as 5,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age. In Mycenaean times the Acropolis was built up with fortifications, a palace, and temples. Eventually the 300-foot-high rock became the hub of the ascendant city-state of Athens.

The sanctuaries of the Acropolis were demolished when the Persians sacked Athens, but a few years later Pericles undertook a vast public works program, with the Parthenon as his first major project. He intended the Parthenon to be an awe-inspiring landmark, and it would soon be renowned all over the ancient world. For its construction, Pericles hired the sculptor Phidias, who supervised a team of architects and artists that started work in 447 B.C.

The resulting temple honored the virgin goddess Athena, and in the dim light of her cult chamber stood a wooden-frame statue at least 35 feet tall, adorned with ivory and gold plate. The figure was draped with bracelets, charms, and other decorations, her eyes were precious gems, and on her breast was an ivory gorgon's head. Athena's priestesses were given a special room in the temple; in fact, the word Parthenon means "virgin's chamber."

If the goddess Athena represented virgin purity, so too did her white marble temple radiate a perfection never before achieved in human works. The Parthenon was designed by architects Ictinus and Callicrates according to the dictates of the Doric order -- familiar to college students everywhere as employing fluted columns with a round molding and a thick square slab at the top.

Within this style, the Parthenon attains a harmony that nearly surpasses understanding. The structure's pleasing proportions derive from the ratio 9:4, a mathematical ideal that informs the relationships of length to width, width to height, and the space between columns as compared to their diameters.

All the apparently straight lines of the Parthenon are, in truth, slightly curved -- but the architects knew these lines would give the impression of being correctly linear. To compensate for the eye's tendency to see a column as thinner in the middle, the designers bowed each column. The columns were also slanted inward slightly. In a final refinement, the columns at the temple's corners were made thicker, since they catch more sunlight than other columns and so would appear thinner unless the architects compensated.

Plutarch said of the temple project: "The monuments were imposing in their unrivaled grandeur, beauty, and grace; the artists vied with one another in the technical perfection of their work, but the most admirable thing was the speed of execution." Building the Parthenon took only nine years, a remarkable achievement.

Considered even more sacred than the Parthenon, the nearby Erechtheion was the last of Pericles' great projects on the Acropolis, and it reconciled the worship of Athena with that of the city's early patron, Poseidon-Erectheus.

In Greek mythology, Poseidon struck the ground here with his trident and created a saltwater spring, whereas Athena caused an olive tree to spring up from a rock. A serpent-king appointed by Zeus as judge determined that Athena had made the earlier claim, and that in any case olives were more valuable than salt water. Thus, Poseidon had to go halves on the shrine, accepting the role of Athena.

Built about 420 B.C., the Erechtheion is an Ionic temple divided into two sections -- one for Athena, one for Poseidon -- beautified with garland, palm, and lotus ornamentations. The most celebrated element, though, is the Porch of the Caryatids, in which columns were replaced by statues of maidens in tunics.

Another building, the Propylaea, served as the formal entrance to the Acropolis. The architect Mnesicles ingeniously designed it with commanding stone columns on the outside to impress and inspire people as they arrived at the hill. Visitors today can still see a bit of the original coffered ceiling,

What a postage stamp picture that would make!

Author:  Luckyspin [ 27 Jun 2009 10:13 ]


And this is my contribution to your campain for the return of the Parthenon marbles that I also support. I am sure it will remind you of Greece.

And this one is personally for you....... ;)


Author:  wiz [ 28 Jun 2009 07:44 ]


Thanks for your support [biggrin.gif]

My wife had a good laugh when I translated to her the words of the last one! [lol.gif] [lol.gif] [lol.gif]

Author:  wiz [ 28 Jun 2009 08:00 ]

Why we should make a great gift to the Greeks?

by Christopher Hitchens

When John Major restored the Stone of Scone to Edinburgh nobody said that if it went on like this there wouldn't be one stone to pile upon another in Westminster Abbey. When the British Museum returned a portion of the beard of the Sphinx to Egypt so that the fabulous couchant beast could be properly restored, nobody howled about the emptying of the world's galleries. When the Lane Collection was returned to Dublin, the sky remained in place.

But just you try mentioning the British Museum's Elgin collection on a radio show or in a pub or simply in conversation, and some saloon-bar philosopher is absolutely certain to strike up. Give them back and where will it all end, the museums of Europe the denuded, Bloomsbury a place of banging shutters and tumbleweed...

There are two reasons for this endless incantation, which is nearly as durable as the simple pun on "losing our marbles" which every saloon-bar savant believes he has coined for the first time.

The first reason is the pricking of a poor conscience. Even people who claim that Lord Elgin rescued the Marbles from a worse fate -- an argument which does have some truth to it -- are dimly aware that by saving the property of a neighbour you do not become the sole owner of that property.

It's also quite well understood that Elgin negotiated the removal with the then Turkish occupiers, and that the Greeks were helpless to prevent their colonial bosses from disposing of treasures they did not especially rever. No great cause for British pride there.

The second reason has to do with a simple misunderstanding. No international law governs the allocation of sculptures, paintings, bronzes or any other artifact. And there is no international body, let alone an international authority, to which application can be made. The European Parliament can express an opinion, if it so desires, and so may UNESCO for all the good that may do. But what any nation "has", by way of museum objects, it is free to hold or to return.

The whole question of precedent, then, is a huge waste of breath. There are no precedents, only individual instances like the ones I mentioned above.

In the case of the Parthenon sculptures, to give them their proper name, the precedent argument is unusually silly. For one thing, the Greeks do not want anything else "back". They are rather pleased that samples of the heroic age are on display everywhere. But the sculpture that was cast under the direction of Phidias himself, to adorn the Temple of Athena, is as close as you can come to a unique case. In 500 or so feet of almost breathing stone, it tells a story. It was cast as a unity. It is an integral part of perhaps the most beautiful building that still survives from antiquity.

If the Marbles were a canvas, and that canvass had been arbitrarily cut or torn in two, and the two halves were in separate galleries they would have been reunited by now on aesthetic grounds alone. Short of moving the rest of the Parthenon to Great Russell Street, there is only one way that an intelligent visitor will ever be able to see the whole design, and that is by an act of generous restitution. To hear some people talk, you would think that such a restitution would cause the Marbles to disappear from view. But during the past few years the Greek authorities have been taking the matter very seriously.

A new museum is in preparation, on the slopes of the Acropolis, (Now opened as you read above, unfortunately without the Parthenon Elgin Marbles returned) in which it will be possible to house all the sculpture in one place, in controlled conditions which will prevent damage from pollution. This one place will be right next to the temple, so that a student can view the building and its decoration in the exact historical geographic and architectural context, all in one day. It is partly the fault of the Greeks that this was not possible before, so that the long-running argument over the sculpture, which began when Byron first lampooned Lord Elgin in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage in 1817, has always been a case of either/or. Should we give them back, or have we acquired nine points of the law by careful possession? Deadlock and constipation and amour-propre.

Now, a completely different proposition can be made. Would the British people, through their parliament, care to become co-sponsors of a restored Acropolis, complete with its Parthenon centrepiece? I do not think the handsomeness of this offer has begun to be appreciated.

Picture the scene. The museum is opened in the shadow of the Acropolis. The Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Prime Minister, perhaps, are honoured guests of the Greek parliament. They jointly announce that, for the first time in almost two hundred years, the caryatids, Lapiths, Centaurs, horses and chariots can be seen as they were intended to be seen, as an aesthetic unity. At least one of the ravages of time, war and chaos has been, as far as is humanely possible, undone.

In Greek and Cypriot tavernas all over the world, it is announced that on this day British guests eat and drink for nothing. A stone on the site records that, like Gladstone's return of the Ionian Islands, a great act of magnanimity and symmetry has been performed by the islanders of the North Sea.

Something like this was actually proposed by the Tory MP Thelma Cazalet in the Commons in 1944. The gesture then was intended to commemorate the moment when Britain and Greece had been sole partners in the fight against Nazi imperialism. That chance was missed, thanks to pettifogging in the Foreign Office, and the old, grudging repetitions were resumed.

But now there's no excuse. Nobody needs to give anything up. Everybody can be a winner. It would be a shame, I think, churlishly to decline such an offer. But no doubt there will be those who want to go to the last ditch, grumbling in their warm beer that the next thing you know we'll be appeasing the Babylonians.

This article appeared on 4 March 1998 in the Evening Standard, and I hope and expect Mr Christopher Hitchens will have no objection appearing here, as I have not managed yet, to find his email or the way to contact him and ask for his permission.

Author:  wiz [ 28 Sep 2010 09:05 ]

An excellent Video By George Gavras about the Parhenon

It runs for 7 minutes and with digital graphics presents all the changes Partheno went through from its inception till the time that its marbles were taken (illegally) by Lord Elgin.

Very interesting to watch!

Author:  Shadow [ 28 Sep 2010 20:42 ]

So it is true that the Greeks lost their Marbles.... [aferim.gif]

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