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Greece calls for return of Parthenon Marbles as symbolic act against nationalism in Europe

Greek Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou has called for the return of  the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum as a symbolic act in the fight against anti-democratic forces seeking the disosolution of Europe.” The so-called Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon in the Acropolis by British Lord Elgin.

The Athens government, which decided against taking legal action against the UK last year, will instead renew diplomatic efforts with an offer to regularly loan some of the wonders of Ancient Greece to British institutions in exchange.

Lydia Koniordou, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sport, said allowing the restoration of this founding monument of Western values would send a message about Europe’s commitment to democracy – at a time when many believe this is under threat from rising nationalism.

“The reunification of the Parthenon Marbles will be a symbolic act that will highlight the fight against the forces that undermine the values and foundations of the European case against those seeking the dissolution of Europe,” Ms Koniordou said.

“The Parthenon monument represents a symbol of Western civilization. It is the emblem of democracy, dialogue and freedom of thought.”

Greece is carrying out restoration work on the Parthenon and has built a museum specifically designed to display the sculptures, but currently only has slightly less than half of them. Other fragments are held by several museums in Europe.

Elgin’s staff removed the sculptures somewhat crudely – for example, the heads of a centaur and a human in a dramatic fight scene are in Athens, while their bodies are in London.

Professor Louis Godart, the newly elected chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS), said: “It’s unthinkable that a monument which has been torn apart 200 years ago, which represents the struggle of the world’s first democracy for its own survival, is divided into two.

“We must consider that the Parthenon is a monument that represents our democratic Europe so it is vital that this monument be returned to its former glory.” (full article The Independent)

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6 comments

  1. This is garbage. The Greek demand for the return of the Marbles is actually nationalist — even if it is also logical. Leaving them in the British Museum is anti-nationalist. As usual, politicians try to repaint black as white and vice versa.

  2. It may sound absurd – I do not believe that a thief such as Elgin should be rewarded by having his country keep his loot – but why should the marbles be better off in a German colony, rather than the UK?
    Who tells us that should the UK return the marbles, the local Quislings will not turn them over to the Pergamon museum as a token of their subservience? To claim your heritage you must be worthy of it and of what it represents. Today’s Greeks who have tolerated the occupation forces of the 4th Reich and its Quislings for the last 7 years do not deserve the marbles.
    At least the British said no to the 4th Reich, as, I am sure, our own ancestors, those who created the Parthenon, would have done.

  3. Although I am reluctant to defend Elgin — after all, his own family do not — he was not unique in plundering other countries’ ancient artefacts. Moreover, he did not make any money out of it: it actually bankruipted him, which is why he sold the Marbles (and other things) to the British Museum. The British Museum has been a private company for decades now, which means it has little to do with the people or government of the UK. Other plunderers include Fauvel — who was French Consuil in Athens and actually took far more than Elgin, allegedly hundeds of packing cases a year for two decades — and Schliemann who became filthy rich on his dubious financial-archaeological dealings in Turkey. I don’t see Greeks ashamed about hosting his primary residence which is now the Numismatic Museum; or commenting on his financing of the destruction of the Frankish Tower on the Acropolis in 1875 because it didn’t fit the invented nationalist narrative about who the Greeks were. Since the late 18th century, Greeks have passively accepted the western narrative about their own identity — originally to be financed for the War of Independence, and subsequently to be financed for doing nothing. This sort of nationalism we can do without, as it seems to be predicated on money.

  4. In this period of uncertainty, it is time the UK took the lead and made a gesture to Greece that will never be forgotten for its generosity, return the marbles.

    I have seen them in London and I have seen the hole for them in Athens. Its time to put the final bits of the jigsaw back together again.

    But I fear the UK is/has turning more and more inward, as such its nationalistic apparatus will not allow such a generous gesture.

    I am sometimes ashamed to be British and this is one of those occasions.

  5. Not so fast, boyo. You are talking about the Greek government accepting narratives – NOT the Greek people.

  6. Hmm. I suppose, not ALL of the Greek people accept these narratives. But rather a lot do, as far as my experience is concerned. I am happy to be proven wrong on this!

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