Why does England still have the Parthenon Marbles?

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In 1801, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, started removing, many say looting, priceless marble statues from the Parthenon and Acropolis area of Athens, Greece. 

He transported these beautiful statues – a valuable part of ancient Greece’s cultural heritage – to England, where they were sold to the British government and put on display in the British Museum. 

The British government defends its claim to the marble statues by saying that Elgin had a ‘permit’ from the occupying Ottoman forces at the time. 

But the question still remains. Why does England still have the Parthenon Marbles? They clearly don’t belong in England. To make a parallel, if parts of Stonehenge (provided that any Greek would think Stonehenge pretty enough to lay claim to) were dismantled, transported by ship to Greece and put on display in an Athens museum, what would British authorities do? Protest? Sue? Of course they would. 

A great deal of Athen’s history and mythology is represented in the Parthenon Marbles, and in the opinion of this reporter, it is time the British government bit the bullet and gave back what rightfully belongs to Greece. 

If they did this, there would be an incredibly strong bond forged between Britain and Greece, a sense of a wrong righted and a new beginning in relations between the two countries. 

It would show respect to other countries’ cultural heritages, it would be a magnanimous gesture and would restore part of Greece’s rich history to the Greeks. 

It’s time to bring back the Parthenon Marbles to where they belong. They did not belong to Elgin or any other individual, they belong to Greece and its people, who would willingly share them with the world if they were returned to their rightful home. Very much the way they share the Olympic flame which will this year light up the 2012 Olympics in London. 

Author: Sarah Fenwick | Source: Cyprus News Report [January 07, 2012]

1 COMMENT

  1. A number of years ago I attended a conference here in Athens – where I have lived for over 30 years – on the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles (the late Jules Dassin, the director and husband of Melina Mercouri, was a key-note speaker).

    I attended the conference with my wife (who is Greek) and with the typically preconceived idea that the Marbles were British. After all, we bought them legally over two hundred years ago. Didn’t we?

    Subsequently, I became interested in the events surrounding the removal of the Marbles by Elgin’s agents (initially from a purely academic perspective), and undertook research here in Athens and in the UK – which in turn gave me the germ of the idea for my novel – ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ – an adventure/mystery set in the present day with flashbacks to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries – published at Smashwords.com.

    ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ combines a compelling and novel journey through time with the search for truth and the restoration of a country’s stolen heritage. Fiction is interwoven with historical fact to create a plausible, yet original and absorbing hypothesis revolving around a topical issue–and one I feel very strongly about–the return of the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in the New Acropolis Museum.

    Attached here is a link to an interview I have recently given to the 'Greek Reporter'.

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2011/12/07/author-tom-jackson-talks-about-his-new-mystery-book-and-its-connection-to-the-parthenon-marbles/

    Please rest assured that my intention here is most decidedly ‘not an attempt to sell my novel’.

    As an Englishman my hope and desire is that my novel may serve to highlight the need to, and justice in, returning the Marbles to Greece, and if my novel can awaken an interest in the subject, however small, then I will have succeeded. There have been many valuable publications of an academic nature regarding the removal of the Marbles, however, I have been unable to find anything fictionalising the event. I thought, therefore that this approach might stimulate interest in a different/unique way, and lead to more people questioning the issues.

    Furthermore, at this very difficult time for the people of Greece (and, in fact, the world), my novel is, I believe, a good – ‘thought provoking – Greek positive – escape and enjoy it – yarn', which may bring a little pleasure to its readers.

    I have informed Mr. David Hill, Chairman, and Mr. Dennis Menos, Secretary, of The International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures that I will be donating 10% of the royalties I receive from this ebook to the Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

    I have always seen my novel as a way to awaken interest in like-minded people to an issue close to my heart – ‘The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles’.

    Many thanks,
    Best Regards,

    Tom Jackson
    a Mancunian living in Athens, Greece.

    Links:

    ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ Smashwords page: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/99678

    http://www.facebook.com/people/@/100002140539429

    ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/@/152698424831830

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