Αρχική > πολιτισμός > THE PARTHENON HOMESICK MARBLES

THE PARTHENON HOMESICK MARBLES

by Nikos Tsoulias

Δημοσιεύτηκε σε αγγλόφωνες εφημερίδες της ελληνικής διασποράς, 1994

"Survey this vacant, violent fane;

Recount the relics torn that yet remain:"*

These desperate words of deep distress are addressed not only to Lord Byron whoclip_image001 feels guilty due to the profane deeds acted out by his compatriot Lord Elgin on the Goddess Athena. They are repeatedly whispered in the ears of every visitor to the Parthenon, her holy temple when you are up on the top of the Acropolis holy rock you cannot but feel the classical spirit and grandeur condensed in order to be expressed as the unaffected and simultaneously uniquely impressive Parthenon temple. We accept the Parthenon to be the ultimate symbol of human civilization to the extent that we assume that there can be a perpetual indispensable escort of History throughout its duration.

Certain symbols last over time and space; they are born to boost human adventure in an attempt to depersonify whatever belongs to humans and then godify it. The Parthenon belongs to this category of unique symbols common to all humans. It is note surprising therefore that UNESCO has adopted the Parthenon’ s front view as its logo in order to attribute due honour and respect for the masterpiece of all ages and finally to express the fundamentals of all human quest.

We, the Greek, envisage every track that can help with witnessing the offer of this universal symbol with due respect. This is why we consistently ask with passion for the return of the Parthenon marbles to its natural and cultural environment where their meaningfulness can be achieved only in their unity with the Parthenon. The statues of Dionysus, Aphrodite, Ivy, of the mythical horses and human creation feel homesick for their origins. And it is exactly homesickness the major theme which has been addressed by all people on earth.

There are no legal restrictions or hindrances and any apparent excuses against the restrictions marbles’ return. First of all because the Greek side has recognized the state of their ownership by the British Museum; if they ever return to Athens this will certainly be considered as a loan. Secondly, any positive development towards this direction cannot be taken for granted for any other further successive claims of similar kind, since noone has ever attempted to think of such associations so far; overall it is publicly recognized that the marbles constitute a unique case. Thirdly, their further promotion can be guaranteed after the erection of the new Acropolis Museum recently.

There has also been great support to this claim, as indicated by: a) Consecutive BBC and Channel 4 gallop – polls which point out an increasing tendency for the British to support to this justifiable claim; b) Many British MPs, celebrities and profound scientists, writers and artists join their voice with politicians from abroad who are in favour of this effort to a successful end. In addition to the abovementioned issues one should notice the permanent desire of the Greek people to heal the bleeding wounds of Parthenon.

Twenty years have just passed since the then Minister of Civilization, Melina Merkouri, first raised the issue of the return of the marbles in 1982. And what can be the most spectacular and essential development for a country which deserves universal admiration on the perspective of holding the 2004 Olympic Games, in case the British Museum and the British Government advance this issue. It must be well understood that these unique sculptures are fed only under the Attic light, their inner light enclosed in Pheidia’ s art which can sparkle nowhere else but there they were once born and their presence comprise a Parthenon.

Moreover, as Kavafis successfully stated: "These are not statuses … they are indispensable components of a unique monument…" And, instead of any further argumentation, he added: "What we need is faith in what these symbols constitute in context: a faith that they belong to their soul". This soul cannot be scattered around in various parts due to any irresponsible action, far away from their place of origin wherein the integration of the Parthenon can take place.

During the 1821 War of Independence when the Greeks besieged the Acropolis in order to liberate it from the Turks, they were informed that the Turks had been destroying ancient pieces of art by extracting lead from the pillars when they ran out of ammunition.

To save these holy symbols the Greeks preferred to send their enemy bullets and relevant equipment! A suicide attempt, in other words. Such was their holy passion for their unrivalled Parthenon! A passion which still preserves both our hope and responsibility for the return of the marbles. Lord Byron illustrated this purification procedure as follows:

"Daughter of Jove! In Britain’ s injured name,

a true – born Briton may the deed disclaim"*

……………

"The curse of Minerva" by Lord Byron

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