September 1, 2008

Ellinais followers worship on the Acropolis

Posted at 1:20 pm in Acropolis, British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

The Greek Neo-pagans may have tenuous connection to the ancient Greeks. Their actions are however drawing a lot of media attention & on the back of this, more coverage is being given to the imminently opening New Acropolis Museum that it might not otherwise have received.

The followers of Ellinais object to the removal of sculptures from the Parthenon to preserve them from the elements – unfortunately though this has long been considered a necessary action by almost all archaeologists if they are to be preserved for future generations to see them.

More interestingly though, this article reveals information from a recent poll by Ipsos Mori, which shows that 69% of people in Britain believe that the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Greece. This conveniently disproves the view put forward by the British Museum in a National Geographic film on the Elgin Marbles, which suggested that old polls were invalid because they were taken too long ago & there was no proof that support for reunification had been maintained over that time.


Greece: Pagans call on Athena to protect the Acropolis
Helena Smith in Athens
The Guardian,
Monday September 1 2008

Thrusting their arms skywards and chanting Orphic hymns, Greek pagans yesterday made a comeback at the Acropolis as they added their voices to protests against the imminent inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum.

Ignoring a sudden rainstorm and irate officials, white-clad worshippers gathered before Greece’s most sacred site and invoked Athena, the goddess of wisdom, to protect sculptures taken from the temples to the new museum. It was the first time in nearly 2,000 years that pagans had held a religious ceremony on the site.

“Neither the Romans nor the Ottomans or any other occupational force ever took anything from this holy site,” said Yannis Kontopidis, one of the high priests who officiated over the affair.

“It’s scandalous that antiquities of such value, carved in honour of Athena, should be wrested from their natural environment and moved to a new locale.”

Not since Pericles oversaw the construction of the Parthenon had any of its classical artworks been officially removed – until last year, when thousands of items were transferred by crane to the New Acropolis Museum beneath the citadel.

The £94m glass and concrete edifice, designed by the Swiss-American architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis, has divided Greeks.

Supporters praise its cavernous space and have claimed the building will offer better protection of the antiquities and a superior viewing space for spectators, who previously had to negotiate the confines of a tiny museum atop the hill.

Government officials said its opening later this year should end the British Museum’s argument that Athens has no place decent enough to house its classical artworks, including the Parthenon sculptures on display in London since Lord Elgin seized them from the temples more than 200 years ago.

An Ipsos-Mori poll, conducted before the new museum’s inauguration, recently showed that 69% of Britons believed the marbles should be returned to Greece.

However, opponents, including architectural purists, have argued that the new museum insults Greece’s cultural heritage, it being in the wrong location and far too big in grandeur and scale.

Yesterday’s ceremony represented a major coup for Greek polytheists whose faith, which is described by the powerful Orthodox church as a “miserable resuscitation of a degenerate dead religion”, has long been banned in the country that gave birth to the gods of Mount Olympus.

New York Times

Arts, Briefly
Protesters Beseech the Gods at the Acropolis
Published: August 31, 2008

In what organizers said was the first such ceremony performed amid the Acropolis ruins in Athens since the ancient Greek religion was outlawed in the fourth century, dozens of Greek pagans huddled near the Parthenon in a downpour Sunday to worship in protest of the new museum being built at the foot of the site. They gathered before the temple’s east wing and prayed to Athena, goddess of wisdom and patron of Athens, to protect the Parthenon from further destruction. “Oh, goddess,” the priestess Doretta Peppa said over an offering of water and olive oil. “We are ready to defend your grounds.” The Greek Culture Ministry forbids ceremonies of any sort at archaeological sites, but the small band of pagan revivalists entered the Acropolis’s heavily guarded grounds as tourists and then persuaded guards to allow the 15-minute rite. It was organized by Ellinais, an Athens group that recently won a court battle for state recognition of the ancient religion. Followers object to the recent removal of marble pediments from the Parthenon and hundreds of works from an existing gallery on the Acropolis that are to be installed in the $190 million museum designed by Bernard Tschumi, due to open early next year.

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