In an article entitled “Give Iris her body back, Britain”, the Washington Post says it is time for the British Museum to consider handing back the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.
Now that times have changed and Britain is leaving the European Union, it’s time to reconsider Greece’s claim for the return of the Parthenon sculptures.
Despite the differing opinions today, the author notes (” nobleman saved them 200-odd years ago if you ask the British, and he stole them if you ask the Greeks”), the case is stronger than ever that they should return to Athens, the cradle of Western culture.
When Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin and British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, asked permission of the sultan to “take away some pieces of stone with old inscriptions and figures,” the earl “naturally took this as license to remove some 17 statues from the pediments, 15 metopes (carved panels) and 247 feet of the frieze from the Parthenon and bring them back home to merry old England,” says the article.
The old argument that the move was an act of preserving the monuments that theoretically could not be appreciated by the locals needed to be revisited, as “Greece is today revered as the cradle of Western culture,” making the Greeks the natural choice of housing the sculptures.
Supporting her argument, the author points out that “the tale Lord Elgin and his countrymen have written themselves into is a tale of sun-never-setting imperialism, where London is the Earth’s center, has changed” and change is acceptable.
Now that Brexit is a reality, “That leaves a question,” the author continues. “Maybe the marbles are an ode to connectedness between the old Mediterranean world and the new and wider one today. Maybe they do belong to all of us. Why, then, should their keeper be the very country that insists on belonging only to itself?”