Reps. Maloney, Bilirakis, and Payne Jr. Introduce Return of Parthenon Marbles Legislation

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

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) on Tuesday, May 2 introduced a resolution calling on Great Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The Marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek Government to retain the Marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the Marbles to Greece.

“The Parthenon marbles are some of Greece’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty, and should be on display in their country of origin,” said Rep. Maloney. “They are vital pieces of Greek history that belong to the Greek people. The people of Greece as well as the visitors who travel from all around the world to experience the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the Marbles. This resolution calls upon Great Britain to finally return these treasures to their rightful home.”

“Art provides a window into history and is the ultimate freedom of expression,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the City of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”

“The Parthenon Marbles are a national symbol and source of pride for Greece,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “These sculptures were taken from Greece, and that is where they belong. Great Britain should do the right thing and reunify the Parthenon temple’s treasures in their homeland.”

The Parthenon, regarded as one of the world’s greatest architectural wonders, is the preeminent symbol of Greek cultural heritage, including its art, architecture, and democracy, and of the contributions that ancient Greece made to civilization. More than 100 pieces of the Parthenon Marbles were removed from the site between 1801 and 1816 and now reside in the British Museum. The Greek people have sought the return of these pieces since it won independence from Ottoman rule in 1830.

2 Comments

  1. First, the Turks changed the Temple
    Into a barefoot infidel worship stable
    Then, an aloof Venetian liberator
    Turned the Temple into a crater
    Next, Thomas Bruce a.k.a. Lord Elgin
    Stripped the best statues from the ruins
    Now the British, who are in shambles
    Want to hold on to Phidias’ Marbles.

  2. Maloney, Bilirakis, and Payne Jr. focus on only the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum and show no apparent concern about those Parthenon Marbles taken by French diplomat Le Comte de Choiseul–Gouffier and now exhibited in the Musée du Louvre. As is usual in this debate Elgin gets unjustly villainised, Choiseul–Gouffier never mentioned.

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