If only we'd listened to Byron, what a lot of trouble over the Elgin/Parthenon marbles would have been saved. "Dull is the eye that will not weep to see/Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed/By British hands ..." he wrote in Childe Harold. Two centuries on, the Parthenonites are still weeping, the Elginites still clinging on to the sculptures that Lord Elgin took from the Parthenon in the first decade of the 19th century.
The Parthenonites reckon the opening of the Acropolis Museum will clinch the argument. "There can no longer be any question about where or how the marbles should be displayed," says Eleni Cubitt, secretary of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. The new museum, she says, will allow the sculptures to be seen as they were intended - as a single work of art.
But the British Museum, which claims ownership of the parts of the frieze taken by Elgin, is unmoved. "The new museum doesn't change anything," says communications manager Hannah Boulton. "The purpose of the British Museum is to present an overview of world civilisations, and the Parthenon sculpture is an integral part of that. In Greece the sculptures tell a story about the growth of Athenian democracy. Here, we can see the sculptures in a worldwide context."
The BM no longer suggests the Greeks would be unable to safeguard the marbles. Nor does it deploy the old argument that if the marbles were sent back, the Egyptians would want their mummies, too. The argument now is over context - local v general. The Elginites say that, by splitting the sculptures, we can have both. The argument is subtle, but wrong-headed. Byron was right, and it's time to fill in the gaps the Greeks are so tellingly leaving in their new museum.
... maybe it's my early morning lack of coffee, but this strikes me as a bunch of words parading as an argument which just takes a lot of words (for a Grade Seven student) without actually backing up the opinion. Elsewhere, in the same publication:
The days when the Greeks played hardball with the British Museum over the Parthenon marbles ended long ago. Today, it is with an air of conciliation and collaboration that they approach Europe's longest running cultural row. In fact, for the contemporary Greek lobby, actions now speak much louder than words.
It was in this spirit that the new Acropolis Museum opened its doors to dignitaries on Sunday. Officially, the excuse was the inaugural transfer of antiquities from the rocky hill to the glass-walled behemoth that forms their new home. Unofficially, however, this rendezvous with history (no sculpture has formally left the site in 2,500 years) allowed the Greeks to show off a spectacular exhibition space that has been on the drawing board for more than 30 years.
Over midday cocktails, Athenian officials could finally debunk the myth that they have nowhere to display the Periclean masterpieces. With the Attic light filing through its great pane windows, and the resplendent sun-soaked Parthenon temple seemingly within reach, the fact suddenly became blindingly clear: this is the place where all the treasures that once adorned this iconic monument should be kept.
No other locale can claim so exquisitely to be their natural home. If there is one backdrop that can remind visitors of the essential connections between democracy and classical beauty - the very notions that inspired Pericles and Pheidias to cooperate over their creation - it is here. By comparison, the British Museum's Duveen Galleries, the setting for the 88 pediment statues, freize panels and metopes that Lord Elgin began to remove from the Parthenon in 1801, have never seemed as paltry or as small.
With the top-floor of the plethoric, three-storyed new building replicating the exact dimensions of the Parthenon, the sculptures can be presented in their correct positions and original configuration, just as they appeared on the temple. In places where the sequence of statuary is broken, the Greeks have decided to dramatize the loss by installing mesh-covered plaster copies of the originals in London.
Symbolically, the Greeks made sure that the first antiquity to be airlifted by crane from the Acropolis was a 2.5 tonne slab that had once been part of the Parthenon's 160m Ionic frieze depicting the Panathenaic procession in honour of Athena. Sixty per cent of the frieze, extravagant in execution as no other in classical art, is in the British Museum, which also has the only pediment statue with its head intact.
If only in the name of scholarship, it is clear that these pieces should be reunited. And the Greeks are willing to go to any length to collaborate with the British Museum (in negotiations that have become increasingly amicable they have, for example, proposed exchanging any number of other antiquities in return). By the time the new Acropolis Museum opens next autumn, it is their hope their actions (and, in this case, the stones) will speak louder than any legal argument over the ownership of the objects.
And the tide appears to be turning in their favour. Repeated polls have shown that the proportion of Britons supporting the return of the sculptures far exceeds the number of those who still believe they should be kept in Bloomsbury. When visitors to the new museum stand in front of the artworks, it will be a question that they, too, will have to ponder. As a result, one thing seems clear: the moral pressure on the British Museum is only going to increase.
... again, lots of words, an opinion expressed ("in the name of scholarship"), but nothing really said to back up the opinion.