The Trial of the Parthenon Marbles on March 16

A few of the sculptures from the Parthenon Marbles in the British Museum. PHOTO: (by Yair Haklai, Creative commons license, via Wikimedia Commons)

CHICAGO – After the success of the Trials of Socrates, Orestes, and Antigone, the National Hellenic Museum presents the Trial of the Parthenon Marbles on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 PM at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Rubloff Auditorium, 230 S. Columbus Drive.

The Parthenon Marbles are a collection of Classical Greek sculptures, inscriptions, and architectural pieces (originally forming much of the exterior decoration of the Parthenon) that were removed and taken from the Acropolis and shipped out of Greece.

The Ottoman governor of Greece allegedly permitted Ambassador Lord Elgin to ship the Parthenon Marbles from Athens to London beginning in1801. The excavation and removal lasted until 1812. Elgin planned to decorate his home with the ancient artworks, but his costly divorce led him to sell the Parthenon Marbles to the British government in 1816.

Sometimes referred to as the “Elgin Marbles,” they were first displayed at the British Museum in early 1817. Now, 200 years later, the Parthenon Marbles are still on display. Since obtaining independence from the Ottoman Empire, Greece has pressed the United Kingdom for the Marbles’ return, a request that has been refused on the grounds that ownership was properly acquired.

The case of the Parthenon Marbles presents contemporary issues of cultural appropriation versus the British Museum’s good faith ownership of these artifacts consistent with legal principles. On March 16, the National Hellenic Museum brings back the all-star team of judges and attorneys from previous years for this case from the annals of Greek history.

The bench will feature Justice Anne Burke from the Illinois Supreme Court and Circuit Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos. In a special feature this year, trial attorneys Sam Adams Jr. and Tinos Diamantatos will cross-examine witnesses testifying for the Greek and British sides of the case. Also among the judges are Hon. Richard A. Posner, Presiding; Hon. William J. Bauer; and Hon. Charles P. Kocoras.

Attorneys Robert A. Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, Patrick M. Collins of Perkins Coie, Patrick J. Fitzgerald ofSkadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and Dan K. Webb of Winston & Strawn LLP will also participate in the event. Tickets are $100 and may be purchased online at www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org/calendar/the-trial. Valet parking is available at the Columbus Drive entrance of the Art Institute.