Most recent update:8/4/2004; 6:26:16 AM

 Monday, July 12, 2004
NUNTII: Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and the Politics of Art

From the Boston Globe:

 Art exhibits often have missions or political statements. But the goal of an exhibit opening next month at the Parthenon, the jewel of Athenian art and culture, is more specific than most: It is intended to provoke London's British Museum into loaning its Parthenon sculptures to Greece.

Timed to coincide with the millions of tourists flooding into Athens for the Summer Olympics, the exhibit, which is expected to open Aug. 2, has been assembled to starkly illustrate what the Greeks see as an injustice. It occurred in the 19th century, when the British Lord Elgin and his team of excavators hacked nearly half of the marble sculptures and friezes off the Parthenon and toted them back to London, where they are housed in the British Museum.

The British Museum has refused to return the "Parthenon marbles," as they are known, despite a cultural and political campaign in Greece to have the pieces returned and rejoined with the other remains of the Parthenon. British Museum officials have declined to be interviewed about the matter and have instead issued statements about the marbles.

The exhibit, which is in the final planning stages, will illustrate how Elgin -- who in 1799 became the British ambassador to Constantinople, then the seat of the Ottoman Empire -- removed statues and friezes that were embedded in the very architecture of the Parthenon.

Dr. Alcestis Choremi, the director of the New Acropolis Museum, which is under construction, said the exhibit will highlight the Western frieze of the Parthenon, from which Elgin removed most of the sculptures. With explanatory notes and an accompanying lecture series, the exhibit intends to make clear that by removing the marbles, Elgin dismantled the Parthenon itself.

"The intention of the exhibit will be to show the world our case, that we would like to unite the pieces of the frieze and the statues," Choremi said. "Now we think the Olympics will be a chance to get the world interested, to put the pressure on the British to finally return these important pieces of our heritage."

Greece's deputy minister of culture, Fani Palli-Petralia, said the exhibit aims to "play up the idea that the British must return these treasures. This is a national issue for us, a political issue, and one for all the world to know about, because the Acropolis is a monument of civilization for all of the world."

The controversy between the British Museum and Greece has spurred academics and politicians around the globe to consider broader questions about the claims that nations have on art and the manner in which art should be displayed. There is a growing movement toward the "repatriation" of art that was looted or carted off by one empire -- or crusading archeologists -- and ended up in the great museums of the world. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Choremi pointed out, returned important fragments of ancient Greek vases in 1998, and the German government returned fragments of the building of ancient Olympia in 2001. [more]

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ante diem iv idus quinctilias

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ARTICLE: Averting the Plague of 165 A.D.

As long as we're dallying in the archives of ZPE (see below), some folks might also be interested in:

 F.Graf, "An Oracle Against Pestilence from a Western Anatolian Town" ZPE 92 (1992) 267-279

The Greek inscription at the centre of the article is a response from an oracle instructing the people to propitiate Artemis to avert some pestilence which is affecting the city. The author plausibly dates the inscription to the period after 165 when Lucius Verus' legions were spreading some sort of plague throughout the east.

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ARTICLE: Second Place Finishes

Since it is such a slow news day (I have nothing!), my mind wandered to a discussion we had a while ago on the Classics list about finishes other than first in ancient athletic events. As it turns out, there's a really good article from ZPE online on this (.pdf):

N.B. Crowther,  "Second-Place Finishes and Lower in Greek Athletics (Including the Pentathlon)" ZPE 90 (1992) 97 ff.

... which concludes:

To conclude, there certainly seems a possibility that generally in Greek athletics places other than first were recorded, as today, although certainly most athletes would not be rewarded. Athletes were probably appreciative of the monetary value of second-place prizes. The attitude of Pindar to victory and defeat may have been as extreme in the ancient world as is the view of those athletes today who treat with contempt a second-place finish.

We'll see how many journalists get it right in the upcoming Olympics ...

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LUDI: Alley Oop

Alley Oop finds Milo of Kroton ...
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AWOTV: On TV Today

6.00 p.m. |HINT|   The Odyssey of Troy
What is it about the legendary city that 3,200 years after its fall,
we still try to unravel Troy's mysteries? Scholars attempt to answer
the question by researching the Greek poet Homer, possibly one of the
greatest poets in Western Europe's history, and his epic tale of love
and war, and comparing his text to archaeological sites.

7.00 p.m. |HINT| King Herod's Lost City
Two-thousand years ago, King Herod built a wondrous city by the sea.
For 12 centuries his dream city flourished before it was lost to
time, its treasure buried beneath sea and sand. Caesarea's tortured
history includes transformation from Roman paganism and Judaism to
Christianity, and eventual destruction by conquering Moslems.
9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Mystery of the Parthenon

Channel Guide

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Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

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