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Are the Elgin Marbles a Scottish issue?

Whilst I agree with the views of this correspondent that the Parthenon Sculptures should be returned, I’m not convinced that it is necessarily a particularly Scottish issue anymore. I can well understand though why he might want Scotland to rid itself of any negative association with the issue.

From:
The Scotsman [1]

Published Date: 07 March 2008
Source: The Scotsman
Location: Scotland
Return Elgin Marbles and lay ‘curse of Minerva’ to rest

Unsurprisingly, you did not report the recent debate (20 February) at the Cambridge University Union on the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles to the new Acropolis Museum in Athens. One more volley in a 200-year-old spat is hardly “news”. However, it did deserve mention in Scotland – indeed, the debate should have been held in a Scottish, rather than an English seat of learning.
Regardless of the outcome in Cambridge (overwhelmingly in favour of the return of the Marbles), for several reasons it is Scotland’s view on this subject that really matters.

First, the seventh Earl of Elgin, the man who removed the sculptures, was a Scot. He was, at the time, British ambassador in Constantinople; but in removing the sculptures from the Acropolis buildings he, through his agents in Athens, was acting in a personal capacity. His intention was to transport them to Scotl
and, to embellish the mansion he was building at Broomhall, Fife. The decision to offer the Parthenon sculptures for sale to the British Museum was made subsequent to their removal and transportation. Lord Elgin was, until his death, a domiciled Scot and his activities were and should still be a matter of concern to his compatriots, if not Scots law.

The fundamental question is, as a matter of Scots law, to be determined ultimately by the Scottish courts, did Lord Elgin have the right to “sell” the sculptures in his possession? As Byron reminds us in The Curse of Minerva, “Frown not on England; England knows him not: Athena, no! thy plunderer was a Scot.” It is time for Scotland to help lay the ghosts of the sculptures and with them “the curse of Minerva” to rest. There’s a new home waiting for them back in their own country.

JOHN A KAPRANOS HUNTLEY, Rubislaw Drive, Glasgow

The full article contains 311 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 07 March 2008 12:15 AM