Letter from Athens: Greece Will Never See Return of the Stolen Parthenon Marbles

July 12, 2020

If, as Einstein reputedly said (or maybe Aristotle) “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” why is Greece's New Democracy following the same failed tactic of ignored diplomacy in trying to get the thieves of the British Museum to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles?

If that method hasn't worked for generations why does Greece think it will now, especially with the museum's German curator, Cultural Nazi Hartwig Fischer, who said Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin's theft of the marbles 200 years ago was “a creative act.”

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has hit so many right buttons in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and jump starting the 8-billion euro ($9) development of the Hellenikon International Airport that was buried by the former ruling Looney Left SYRIZA, has whiffed on his timid approach.

First, he asked pretty please if the museum would LEND Greece its own marbles so they could be shown in 2021 on the 200th anniversary of the independence from the barbaric Ottoman occupation, which give Elgin permission to steal them.

He offered to put up collateral for the loan of the marbles that belong to Greece to provide the British Museum other Greek treasures to show off but hasn't even attempted to put on the table his ace card to get them back.

That would be Greece, under European Union rules requiring unanimous consent, vetoing the United Kingdom's terms of departure from the bloc, set for Dec. 31, unless the marbles were returned.

Why, Mr. Prime Minister are you afraid to step up to the plate on this one?

You could go down in history, along with the late, great actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri, who renamed them the Parthenon Marbles from the Colonial tag of Elgin Marbles, demanding their return in a way only she could do with that laser-beam glare that could make a strong man crumble.

Or Mitsotakis' legacy will be tarnished as being just another Greek leader who got weak knees and turned into an obsequious little lickspittle who couldn't stand up to the UK and get the marbles back.

Mitsotakis could reboot, as he did with Hellenikon, a law suit started by his predecessor and former premier and then New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras who got British lawyer Amal Clooney – wife of actor George Clooney, another champion of the marbles' return – to bring the inglorious British bastards to court.

Former premier Alexis “Huh?” Tsipras was willing to let the Brits keep the marbles that he said didn't belong to Greece but to the world – dropping the suit under SYRIZA.

What do you expect from someone who doesn't believe in his country and gave away the name Macedonia to the newly-named North Macedonia? It's a wonder he didn't let Turkey take the island of Kastellorizo.

There are many international groups who said the marbles should be returned but their approach has been to issue tweets and press releases, which get a good laugh in the British Museum board meetings.

The Acropolis Museum, 10 years old, was designed to show off the marbles on a magnificent top-floor glass-walled gallery with the backdrop of the Acropolis and Parthenon (those are Greek) in the background to answer the British who said Greece had no place to safely store and show off its treasures, unlike the British Museum where they are in a dank room that leaks.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, an archaeologist by background, isn't digging deep enough on this one either, falling back on the same limp approach of jawboning the British Museum and UK government to beg, plead, cajole, demand or ask for the return of the marbles. That is, you know, the insane approach that has never worked.

She told the Greek newspaper the fight will never end which means they'll never be returned but, you know, the fight will go on even past the more than 2500 years since the Parthenon was built.

Mendoni accused the British Museum of being “governed by outdated, colonialist views” for refusing to return the treasures.

Now there's never-ending fighting words although she might want to see a video of Mercouri who knew how to deliver Greek Fire where it hurt.

“Since September 2003 when construction work began on the Acropolis Museum, Greece has systematically demanded the return of the sculptures on display in the British Museum because they are the product of theft,” Mendoni said.

“The current Greek government – like any Greek government – is not going to stop claiming the stolen sculptures which the British Museum, contrary to any moral principle, continues to hold illegally,” she added. Deeds, Madam Minister, not words.

She would not commit to renewing the legal challenge, showing her true intent of lobbing grapeshot across the British bow.

Headlines from the past show the futility of Greece's timidity:

2002 – Americans Press for Return of Marbles

2003 – Britons Push for Marbles

2004 – New Endeavor for Return of Parthenon Marbles

2007 – Building a Case for the Marbles

2005 – "Moral Duty" to Bring Partheon Marbles Home

And the saddest:

2020 – Greece Says Marbles Return Not Linked to Brexit Talks

Why not?

Since no Greek government is willing to really fight to get them back, I am again looking for volunteers to break into the British Museum and repatriate them. We'll call it “a creative act.” But maybe that's just insanity too.


I have dealt with Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology several times, highlighting some of their serious and deep-rooted problems, not limiting myself to observations but also proposing ideas and possible solutions for reflection and dialogue.

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