March 31, 2007

Vatican rejects Greek request for return of Parthenon Fragment

Posted at 12:44 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

The Pope has rejected a request by the Archbishop of Athens last year that the Vatican returns a fragment of the Parthenon sculptures which is held in its museum.

The Guardian

Greece talks tough on Parthenon marbles
PM says UK has run out of ‘feeble excuses’ over return
Helena Smith and John Hooper
Friday March 30, 2007
The Guardian

The Greek prime minister, deploying the strongest language yet for the return of the Parthenon marbles, yesterday said that Britain had run out of “feeble excuses” to retain the treasures.

At a ceremony to mark the return to Athens of two art works Greece has long claimed from the Getty Museum – and the imminent completion of a £94m Acropolis museum – Costas Karamanlis said it was only a matter of time before the sculptures’ repatriation.

“The universal demand for uniting the marbles of the Parthenon is gaining in strength and reach,” he said as the 4th century BC golden wreath and marble statue were unveiled at Athens’s National Archaeological Museum. “This and the completion of a new, super-modern museum … will foil all the feeble excuses that are put forward for their non-return. It is our urgent priority to reclaim every ancient artefact that was illegally exported to museums and collectors abroad.”

The 5th century BC marbles were removed from the Acropolis by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin, in 1801. They were bought by the British government from Lord Elgin for £35,000, after a parliamentary vote in 1816 in favour of acquiring them for the nation, and vested “in perpetuity” in the trustees of the British Museum.

Over the past year the Greeks have been emboldened by the return to Athens of a host of treasures, including artefacts from the Acropolis that ended up in Germany and Sweden. The Greeks have also taken heart from polls that have shown the majority of Britons supporting the marbles’ return.

However, Hannah Boulton, a spokeswoman for the British Museum, said yesterday that while the museum recognised the 1970 Unesco convention deploring illicit trade in antiquities, the Parthenon sculptures could not be seen in the same light.

“They were acquired lawfully after detailed parliamentary scrutiny at the time, and have been on public display for free for 200 years,” she said.

Meanwhile Pope Benedict has decided to turn down a request from Greece’s religious leader to hand back pieces of the Parthenon housed in the Vatican museums, the Italian news agency Ansa reported yesterday. Quoting Vatican sources, the agency said the Holy See’s rejection would soon be communicated officially.

The Orthodox archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Christodoulos, asked for the sculpture fragments to be returned at a meeting with the Pope last December. The Vatican has in the past refused a similar petition from the Greek government.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Possibly related articles

1 Comment »

  1. Shari Hensley said,

    06.15.07 at 1:53 am

    The Elgin Marbles were rescued by Lady Elgin at a time when the Greek culture had disintegrated and the structures on the Acropolis were being vandalized and destroyed. They were aquired legally and as such should remain in the British Museum for millions of visitors who may have access to London but not Greece. The Greek government should focus their efforts on continuing the conservation of the artifacts in their possession instead of aquiring what they no longer possess and be proud that the rest of society values their contributions so highly that they wish to exhibit them for “perpetuity”.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

We want to hear your views. Be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. Remember this is for feedback and constructive discussion!
Comments may be edited or removed if they do not meet these guidelines. Repeat offenders will be blocked from posting further comments. Any comment deemed libellous by Elginism's editors will be removed.
The commenting system uses some automatic spam detection and occasionally comments do not appear instantly - please do not repost comments if they do not show up straight away