Parthenon Marbles

Topics: Parthenon, Athens, Elgin Marbles, British Museum / Pages: 43 (10661 words) / Published: Apr 27th, 2008
THE PARTHENON AND THE ELGIN MARBLES

BY EPAMINONDAS VRANOPOULOS

Athens 1985

PREFACE

The response to the Greek government's demand for the return to Greece of the sculptures of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum, has been so encouraging that it has given rise to hopes that the Elgin Marbles, as they have come to be known, may indeed one day be restored to their rightful home.

The favourable response has come from UNESCO and from public opinion world-wide, including Britain.

For the time being, however, the British government and the authorities of the British Museum do not agree that the marbles should be returned. They base their stand on the argument that if the Parthenon sculptures were returned, it would set a precedent by which all the great museums of the world would ultimately have to return their treasures to their country of origin.

Nevertheless, this argument cannot apply to the Elgin Marbles because they are an inseparable part of the Parthenon and cannot be compared to such things as Egyptian obelisks, pharaoh's mummies, Mesopotamian tablets or Easter Island monoliths - not even with other Greek masterpieces such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace or the Venus de Milo.

Classical scholars and art historians are unanimous in declaring the Parthenon to be a unique example of Greek classical art. Those who visit it today see it without the sculptures and many are doubtless unaware that they even exist. Yet the marbles and the Parthenon, together, form part of their cultural heritage and they are prevented from appreciating and understanding its architectural value and aesthetic worth to the full.

CHAPTER 1

NOTES ON THE UNIQUENESS OF THE PARTHENON

The Parthenon is a representative example of the high degree of architectural accomplishment attained by the 5th century BC.

THE HISTORY OF THE PARTHENON

After their victory against the Persians at Plataea in 479 BC, the Athenians returned to their abandoned city and

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