August 28, 2008

Pagans plan to worship on the Acropolis

Posted at 12:55 pm in Acropolis

After utilising other ancient temples in Athens for their ceremonies, the members of Ellinais a revival of the religion of Ancient Greece worshiping the Olympian gods are to perform a ceremony on the Acropolis Itself.

International Herald Tribune

After 1,500 years, pagans plan Acropolis prayer
The Associated Press
Published: August 28, 2008

ATHENS, Greece: A small group of pagans pledged Thursday to hold a protest prayer among the ruined Acropolis temples, more than 1,500 years after Christians stamped out worship of the ancient Greek gods.

Group spokeswoman Doretta Peppa said the worshippers would pray Sunday to Athena — goddess of wisdom and patron of ancient Athens — to protect the 2,500-year-old site. Peppa said followers of the old religion object to the removal last year of hundreds of sculptural masterpieces from a tiny museum on the Acropolis to a large new building under the citadel.

In a statement, her group, Ellinais, described the landmark glass and concrete structure as “an incredible architectural monstrosity that insults (Greece’s) cultural heritage.”

The €129 million (US$190 million) building is where Greece hopes one day to display the Elgin Marbles beside the other Parthenon sculptures. Greek officials have said it will open next month, displaying some 4,000 artifacts. The Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the 19th century, when Greece was still an unwilling part of the Ottoman empire. The British Museum has repeatedly rejected Greek calls for their return.

Peppa told The Associated Press she would prefer the Acropolis sculptures to have stayed at the ancient temples — from where they were removed by Greece over the past 30 years to stop erosion from Athens’ polluted air.

“But even if we accept a new museum was needed … it should be in a style close to that of the ancient buildings,” she said. “It’s not a museum of modern art.”

Peppa’s Athens-based group, Ellinais, is campaigning to revive ancient religion and has defied Culture Ministry bans to hold prayers at several ancient temples.

She said she would not seek state permission for the ceremony, to be held near the ancient Parthenon temple, built between 447-432 B.C. in honor of Athena.

“We will just sing three hymns. It won’t be a big ceremony,” Peppa said. “I don’t know how many of us will be there. People are afraid. The fact is that we are subject to religious persecution.”

Christianity took hold in Greece in the 4th century. Roman Emperor Theodosius wiped out the last vestige of the Olympian gods when he abolished the Olympic Games in 394 A.D. The Parthenon was converted into a Christian church in the 5th century A.D.

Designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis, the new Acropolis museum has been criticized for its bulk and modern style.

Architects and conservationists have denounced government plans to enhance its view of the Acropolis by demolishing two elegant, early 20th-century houses — one of which belongs to Oscar-winning composer Vangelis Papathanassiou.

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