August 3, 2012

Reshowing of Parthenon Marbles debate in Australia

Posted at 1:01 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

ABC’s Big Ideas has re-broadcast June’s debate on the Parthenon Marbles organised by Intelligence Squared.

ABC (Australia)

Published 23 July 2012
IQ2 Debate: ‘Send Them Back’ The Parthenon Marbles Should Be Returned to Athens

The proposition for this IQ2 debate from the UK is ‘Send Them Back: The Parthenon Marbles Should Be Returned to Athens’. These marbles, also known as the Elgin marbles, were removed by Lord Elgin (British Ambassador to Constantinople 1799-1803, Greece was under Turkish rule until the 1830’s War of Independence) and shipped back to London in the early part of the 19th century.

The Parthenon sculpture included a large amount of 5th century BC sculptured freize (about 75 metres) that once ran around the Parthenon and life size sculpted figures.

Whether they were stolen or legitimately acquired has always been controversial. Even Lord Byron attacked Elgin as soon as they were put on display in London in the 19th century, in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage ,about how the antiquities of Greece had been defaced by British hands.

Buying the ‘Marbles’ had nearly bankrupted Elgin and he was keen to sell them to the British government. The government acquired them after a select committee examined the quality of the artworks as well as the legitimacy of Elgin’s purchase. They’ve been lodged in the British museum for the last 200 years but the moral issue of ownership is still in dispute.

This IQ2 debate at the Cadogan Hall in London features a stellar cast and was recorded by the BBC.

For the motion: Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, and Stephen Fry, actor, comedian, broadcaster.

Against the motion: Tristram Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke on Trent Central, historian and broadcaster, and Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

The moderator is the BBC’s Zeinab Badawi.

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