Parthenon Sculptures: Even the Times Changed Attitudes! “They must now return to Athens”

The Times of London may refer to the Parthenon Sculptures as Elginia but in their main article they take a clear position in favor of their return to Greece. And they note that while they have always supported the British Government and the British Museum, now conditions have changed.

“Elgin Marbles are wonderful in depicting human form and movement. “Millions have admired these sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon and for the last two centuries are housed in the British Museum, one of its most beautiful exhibits.”

And they continue: “For over 50 years, artists and politicians have been arguing that works of art so important for the cultural identity of a nation must return to Greece. The Museum and the British Government, backed by the Times, resisted this pressure. But now conditions have changed. The Sculptures belong to Athens. They must be returned now. ”

The article explains that the immediate precedent is the agreement of Italy to lend to Greece a marble fragment of the goddess Artemis which had been stolen like the Parthenon Sculptures.

Full article:

The Parthenon Sculptures are majestic in the representation of the human form and the depiction of movement. Millions of people stand with admiration on the face of the sculptures that once adorned the Parthenon, while for the last two centuries they have been housed in the British Museum, one of the most beautiful of all its acquisitions.

For more than 50 years, artists and politicians have argued that the artifacts – which are an integral part of the nation’s cultural identity – should be returned to Greece. The museum and the British government, with the support of the Times, resisted this pressure. However, times and circumstances have changed. The sculptures belong to Athens. And they must return now.

The recent precedent is the agreement between Italy and Greece for the return of a marble fragment of the Goddess Artemis, which was taken – like the Parthenon Sculptures – from Ottoman-controlled Athens in the early 19th century and later sold to the University of Palermo. . In return, Italy will receive an ancient statue of Athena and an amphora. The deal is similar to the one proposed at the British Museum a few years ago. In exchange for the return of the Sculptures, Greece would send to London a rotating exhibition with some of its best classic objects that are not permanently exhibited.

The proposal came close to an agreement. It failed, however, due to a dispute over the ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures. Britain, for its part, insisted that the sculptures had been purchased and not looted and should therefore remain the property of the British Museum. Greece claimed that the Ottoman Empire had no right to sell items made in Greece almost two millennia before the Ottoman conquest. The museum and the government are throwing the decision back and forth. Such a bureaucratic absurdity can be resolved quickly. Let the sculptures be sold back at a cost price. A decision by parliament gave Lord Elgin’s purchases to the museum. So let parliament now approve their return.

Britain has put forward other arguments for continuing the occupation. Increasing air pollution in Athens has affected much of the Parthenon, while the Parthenon Sculptures have been preserved in an almost pristine condition in a clean, safe environment. This argument is no longer valid. Not only have the Parthenon Sculptures already been damaged due to improper cleaning, but Greece has built a magnificent museum next to the Acropolis, safe and accessible, where the original sculptures are now kept and where the sculptures would complete the frieze.

A more compelling argument has been made by Neil MacGregor, the former director of the British Museum, about the future of all museums. Can anyone continue to own assets that have been purchased, stolen or taken from other countries in the past? Looted items, such as Benin’s Bronze, were justifiably returned. But can museums remain centers of world culture and heritage if they are only allowed to keep what comes from within the current political boundaries?

Other countries, especially France, are already under pressure from the contenders. This is their business. The sculptures of the Parthenon are sui generis. They stand in the way of a warm relationship with Greece: Lord Byron is considered a hero of Greek independence. Hellenism reached its zenith in Victorian Britain. Separating elements of an artistic ensemble is like taking Hamlet out of the First Sheet of Shakespeare’s works and saying that the two can still exist separately. The return of the Parthenon Sculptures would be a gesture of magnanimity at a time when Britain needs to rekindle European friendships.

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