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Support the Return of the Parthenon Marbles

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Yiannis View Drop Down
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Support the Return of the Parthenon Marbles
    Posted: 26-May-2005 at 04:56
Let, discuss here all aspects of the Parthenon Marbles return plea.
 
Case could force Marbles' return
Elgin Marbles
The Marbles were taken from Athens by Lord Elgin in 1811
A court case over the return of art looted by the Nazis may set a legal precedent which sees Britain compelled to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece.

The British Museum is seeking to return four Old Master drawings stolen from a Jewish collector in the 1930s.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has asked the High Court to clarify whether the museum has a moral duty to return property obtained improperly.

The Elgin Marbles are the subject of an ongoing row between Britain and Greece.

The marbles, a series of statues and fragments, were removed from Athens' Parthenon in 1811 by Lord Elgin, and later sold to the British Museum.

Greece has consistently demanded them back, most recently for last Summer's Olympic Games.

Detail of Virgin and Child Adored by St Elizabeth and the Infant St John by Martin Johann Schmidt
Schmidt's Virgin and Child is among the drawings looted by the Nazis

British law prevents the British Museum from disposing of anything in its vast collection.

However, the museum is seeking permission to return the drawings to the heirs of Czech lawyer Dr Arthur Feldmann, under the terms of the Snowden principle.

The principle permits charities to give back items it would be wrong for them to keep.

If the court rules that Lord Goldsmith can give his permission for the works to be returned, it could pave the way for other claims like the Elgin Marbles.

"It would allow them to return any items in their collection if they thought there was a moral obligation to do so," said a spokesman for the Attorney General's office.

Nonetheless, the final decision over works leaving the country lies with Lord Goldsmith.

So far, he has reserved judgment on whether he will allow the Old Masters to be returned once the High Court has made its ruling.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4580011.stm
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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-May-2005 at 22:07
They should!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I once did a book review on this so I will have to find the disk that has the report on it. My conclusion was they should be returned but I would not hold my breath. Let me see if I can find it and I will post it under this thread.
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  Quote Menippos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-May-2005 at 19:53
Well, I have some things to say here.

Firstly, in my 10 years in London, I had the chance to visit the British Museum and, amongst others, see and smell the Parthenon marbles.
I was probably fortunate to have missed for a month the label next to the marbles, describing them and in the end stating that "the remainder of the Marbles collection, currently in Greece, have not yet been delivered to the British Museum" or something like that. I was told of this label much later, by a Japanese colleague who had seen it. Outraged? I surely was!

Secondly, I was unfortunate enough to have watched, in 1996, the interview of UK's Minister of Culture  (or was it the British Museum Curator - I can't remember anymore) by William G. Stewart, then presenting the TV programme "60 Minutes" and who is a well known philellen (friend of the Greeks) and a renowned activist for the return of the Marbles, and I heard statements like: "We have them here for over 200 years, so they are  now part of the British culture" and  when confronted with the question "But didn't the Greeks had them for more than 2000 years?" he replied "This is besides the point".
A bitter smile was drawn on my face for the remainder of the programme that rainy evening.

You can read the whole of W.G. Stewart's activities on the Marbles Issue following the link I have provided.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2005 at 08:28

http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,1494322,00 .html?gusrc=rss

Art dealer takes Greek statue back home

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
Saturday May 28, 2005
The Guardian

Still smiling after 2,600 years, one small Greek youth, probably trousered by a soldier 60 years ago, is going home to the island of Samos.

"He's in remarkable condition apart from his nose," said James Ede, a London art dealer who has established that the figure was stolen from the island's museum, probably during the second world war. "He got that biffing in antiquity, not in my care," he added anxiously.

The kouros, a type of ancient Greek image typically of splendidly muscled young men with long curly hair, is shorter than a teaspoon.

But it is worth around 30,000, as early Greek provincial sculpture is highly prized by collectors but rare on the market. Mr Ede bought it, with a quantity of other pieces, from the widow of a Greek collector based in Switzerland, and showed it to John Prag, of the Manchester Museum. He had seen it before: it was photographed by a German archaeological team in the 1920s, and reproduced in a 1942 book, proving that it came from the Samos museum.

Without the photograph, it would never have been traced. Victoria Solomonidis, cultural counsellor at the Greek embassy in London, said that in common with many other Greek museums, no complete record was possible on Samos of what was destroyed and what had gone missing, in the chaos of the aftermath of the war.

The statue was not listed on the Art Loss Register, the nearest thing to a comprehensive international database. The measurement given for the figure in the 1942 book was also wrong, robbing the youth of a precious 14 millimetres, and making it more difficult to identify.

Mr Ede, who has previously returned a stolen marble plaque, bitterly criticised the British government's decision on cost grounds not to produce an online register of missing art, promised when the law on illicit art was strengthened.

"I think it's a monstrous mistake on their part. If laws are going to be passed then the tools should be provided."

Mr Ede will take the statue back to the museum himself. The Greek government has offered a reward, but he has refused it. "I bought him as part of a large collection, and I've already done quite well out of it," he said.

A big Bravo to Mr Ede!!!

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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  Quote Menippos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2005 at 17:46
2 birds with one ...statue, Mr. Ede, popularity and publicity.
Ah, he also returned us a statue...
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  Quote Menippos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2005 at 17:48
"A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty".


Aeolus, I loved this!!!!
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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-May-2005 at 13:41
Last I heard the British Museum refused. I cannot recall the curators name but it sounded Scottish. I am sure if Greece took something that the Scottish were proud of like the Pictish symbol stones, the Scots would be screaming, "bring em back laddie!!!"

I mean Scotland also has been invaded so much that how do we really know they are the decendants of the ancient Picts, sarcasm.

This was the curators claim about the Greeks!!

I say, "England give them back!!"
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  Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2005 at 13:23
Man,why we don't send some O.Y.Ks there with some professional robbers and steal them?Only in that way we can take them back and it will save us time.
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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2005 at 21:08
It would make a great fictional thriller-
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  Quote Spartakus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2005 at 11:42
"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them. "
--- Joseph Alexandrovitch Brodsky, 1991, Russian-American poet, b. St. Petersburg and exiled 1972 (1940-1996)
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2005 at 18:12
I watched a program on TV a couple of weeks ago, about an Egyptian mummy that was found, long-forgotten and covered with spiderwebs, in the attic of some tiny provincial museum near the Niagara Falls.
Somehow, I've forgotten why, somebody had the idea that this could be a rather important mummy and after years of research, tests and debates, archaelogists agreed that this mummy was nobody else than Rameses I.

That was the most exiting thing that ever happened to that little museum in the outbacks, and what did they do?
They gave it back to Egypt, quite voluntarily, and Rameses I went home to his people and lies no in state in the museum in Cairo!
Well done!
The British Museum should take a leaf out of their book and sent the blooming marbles back where they belong!
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Jul-2005 at 15:28
Hmmm... I guess for that matter, the Greeks should ask the Italian government for the return of the artworks taken in 1204.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2005 at 05:52

Very interesting point Belisarius. You reaise a legitimate question but these artifacts do not belong to the same category as the Parthenon Marbles.

The Parthenon Marbles - or more precisely, the Parthenon Sculptures are not freestanding works of art but integral architectural members of one of the most magnificent and best-known monuments in the world: the Parthenon. It is the biggest building on the Acropolis of Athens and was designed and built by the architect Iktinos and the sculptor Pheidias in the 5th c. BC. It was erected to celebrate the victory of the Athenian Democracy that encouraged the creation and development of all the arts as well as of politics, philosophy, theatre and even science as we know them to day. So, the Parthenon is the celebration of the achievements of free, democratic people and for that reason it is an important symbol to the whole world.

That is why it is inconceivable that over half of its celebrated sculptural elements should be exhibited 2000 miles away from the rest and from the actual monument for which they were expressly designed and carved.

One needs to remember that Greece does intend to compensate the Brittish Museum, by making sure that it would always host Greek antiquities on loan for exhibitions. Greece would be willing to send rare and even newly discovered antiquities, which have never been seen outside Greece.



Since the British Committee renewed the campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, opinion has grown in favour of our contention that all the displaced parts of this unique monument should be preserved where it is - in Athens. Below are a selection of supportive views:

Bill Clinton

"If it would be me, I would give them back immediately."

President Vladimir Putin

"The Greeks are trying to bring back what belongs not only to them but to all humanity. This shows that your efforts are to your [the Greeks] credit and we [the Russians] will support you in this."

Sean Connery

"The return of the [Parthenon] Marbles should be the goal of all the countries that will participate in the Olympic Games. So by the time the Games are here [Greece], they will be in their rightful place."

Christopher Price

"The only thing British about them is the fact that one of our ambassadors filched them."

Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London)

"I support the idea that the Elgin Marbles should return home once there is a proper place for them there."

Rt Hon. Neil Kinnock (Former leader of the Labour Party)

"The Parthenon without the Marbles is like a smile with a tooth missing."

Rt Hon. Michael Foot (Former leader of the Labour Party)

"The Parthenon Marbles are a serious matter to Greece... Our relations with democracy in Greece could be greatly improved if the Government could show the intelligence and magnamity to deal with that matter..."

Karl E. Meyer (New York Times)

"The Parthenon and its missing friezes are part of Greece's birthright, a defining symbol of Athens and its democracy."

Louis de Bernieres (Author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin)

Click
here to read Louis de Bernieres' article on the return of the Parthenon Marbles on The Times newspaper's website.


A number of other notable supporters have made their views known. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Prince Charles
  • Sir John Mortimer CBE, QC
  • Lord (Ted) Willis
  • C.M. Woodhouse DSO
  • Lord Ponsonby
  • Janet Suzman
  • Spike Milligan
  • Judi Dench
  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • Ian McKellen
  • Fiona Shaw
  • Joanna Lumley
  • Angela Lambert
  • Emma Thompson
  • Jonathan Dimbleby
  • Julie Christie

Sources:

http://www.parthenonuk.com/index.php

http://www.uk.digiserve.com/mentor/marbles/

http://www.parthenon2004.com/

http://www.hammerwood.mistral.co.uk/elgin.htm

and many more...

 

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  Quote cattus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2005 at 12:03

Originally posted by Komnenos


The British Museum should take a leaf out of their book and sent the blooming marbles back where they belong!

Bravo to the U.S. for returning the mummy after it was identified!

..but speaking of the States, im stunned more Hollywood actors have not spoken on the marbles.  They give their opinion on everything and they think it matters.

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  Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2005 at 13:29
As much as I understand the Greek's grievance with the Parthenon marbles being in London, a museum, after all, wouldn't be worth much if it didn't have exhibits from all over the world. It's also far more practical to have loads of items stored in one place, than having them scattered across the world in all kinds of distant locations, in which case few would get to see them all, as they do now. Just imagine if Louvre were to start returning all their exhibits to their original locations, suddenly the museum wouldn't be that interesting anymore.

Seen from this somewhat pragmatic perspective, I fully understand the British Museum's position. Now for the angry replies, fire away.

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  Quote Menippos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2005 at 14:01
Yes, perhaps the British Museum or the Louvre would not be so visitable, but then again, other sites, the original ones mostly, would increase their visitability. It is the issue of profit too, you know.
Furthermore, it would even increase security and safety, as not too many items would be amassed at the same place.
Angry replies? Well, with people interested in such a cultural issue, you will not have any, I assure you. Debate perhaps, but not malicious responses.
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  Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jul-2005 at 14:30
Good points. Especially the one about profits, a larger museum could boost tourism, which Greece is quite dependent on.

There's a similar case with the statues from the Lindos acropolis on Rhodes, which now are to be found in Copenhagen as a result of a Danish archaelogical excavation some time ago, carried out with permission from the then Turkish regime.
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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jul-2005 at 03:15

Originally posted by Reginmund

  Just imagine if Louvre were to start returning all their exhibits to their original locations, suddenly the museum wouldn't be that interesting anymore.

True, but the Parthenon Sculptures are not stand-alone pieces (e.g. statues), they're integral parts of Parthenon's structure. Plus, even if the Greek state does not recognize Brittish ownership of the sculptures, it's willing to compensate the Brittish Museum with loans of Greek antiquities of equal value, so there's no case of the museum being stripped of exhibits. It has even offered to name the wing of the new Acropolis Museum (currently being built) as "Branch of the Brittish Museum".

See some of the links above for more info.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jul-2005 at 12:10

 I understand Greece's wish to have them back but does Greece not have things of value to other countries? im sure they must do somewhere, every country has statues, antiques etc from other nations and cultures.

 In this case I do sympathise and I think the offer of loaning out other antiquities is a fair as is the offer of a wing in the museum of the Acropolis. I wouldnt mind seeing the marbles returned but then im also not overly optimistic on it, I suppose im relatively neutral on the issue but if Britain does give them back whats to stop other countries wanting this that and the other back? Museums would be emptied by the claims from countries wanting things back and vice versa, many things in museums belong to the world and not the country of origin alone the fact they are not currently residing in the country of origin isnt the only issue here.

 

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  Quote Yiannis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Jul-2005 at 13:08

Originally posted by Heraclius

but if Britain does give them back whats to stop other countries wanting this that and the other back? Museums would be emptied by the claims from countries wanting things back and vice versa, many things in museums belong to the world and not the country of origin alone the fact they are not currently residing in the country of origin isnt the only issue here.

Greece never supported the idea of artifacts returning to where they were found. However, the Parthenon Marbles, are not "artifacts" or statues but intergral parts of a structure/building which is now mutilated. they were sawn of the preface of Parthenon itself, they're not stand-alone pieces!

Greece has been asking for them since 1832, when we gained our independence. In my mind Great Britain, a nation with which we have shared so much in our history, seeing how strong this feeling is in Greece and how emotional we feel over the whole issue, should return them, even if the British Museum wasn't offered for so much in return, even if they feel that the right is on their side.

 



Edited by Yiannis
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