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Culture

British Writer Fry Says Parthenon Marbles Belong to Greece

December 14, 2021

LONDON – British writer, actor and media presenter Stephen Fry, whose works have included books on Greek mythology, has joined a growing call for the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece, with no sign that will happen.

He said that the museum, which has stolen goods from former British colonies and a number of countries but refuses to return any, could replace the marbles with a virtual reality exhibit in that spot.

Fry , speaking on a podcast, said that returning the sculptures would be a “classy gesture” by Britain although Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who, before taking office agreed with that – said he won’t interfere politically.

Fry is a well-known lover of Classical antiquity and a prominent voice for the return of the marbles which seems futile given the museum’s long-said claims that the Greek marbles aren’t Greek anymore but British and will never be returned.

Fry said that a million Athenians would take to the streets to welcome the sculptures home as they are part of the essence of Athens and could be housed in the Acropolis Museum that opened in 2009 with a top floor of set aside for them.

In April, after a decision by President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Fry was bestowed the Commander of the Order of the Phoenix at the Greek Embassy in London for his contribution to enhancing knowledge about Greece in the UK and reinforcing ties between the two countries, said Kathimerini.

His plea came after British Museum Director George Osborne offered to lend Greece the marbles – which Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had first suggested earlier this year to get them displayed on the 200th anniversary of Greek Independence from the Ottoman Empire – which let Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin take them unlawfully.

“Sure, there are those who question our right to exist — they did back in 1753 and then do so again in 2021. Of course, there are those who demand the return of objects they believe we have no right to hold. That is not new either. Lord Byron thought the Elgin Marbles should be back at the Parthenon,” said Osborne.

“Our response is not to be dismissive. We are open to lending our artefacts to anywhere who can take good care of them and ensure their safe return  – which we do every year, including to Greece,” he said.

“But nor are we embarrassed or defensive. Almost three centuries on, we remain one of the very few places on earth where you can see the great civilizations of the world side by side,” although they’re not British property.

Osborne seemed to be fishing to get Greece to agree that a loan would mean that the marbles no longer belong to Greece and to stop asking for their return after the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA essentially agreed with that.

The museum’s Chairman Sir Richard Lambert, said the trustees had “no intention of removing controversial objects from public display” but would “seek to contextualise them in a way that enables the public to learn about them in their entirety, however challenging this may be,” Britain’s The Daily Express said.

The museum’s website says “its history and collection are shaped by empire and the colonial exploitation of people and resources,” essentially admiting they were expropriated,” not acquired.

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