WASHINGTON, D.C. – New York Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, put forth a resolution calling on Great Britain to return the stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
Florida Congressman Representative Gus Bilirakis, Co-Chair of the Hellenic Caucus and New Jersey Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. are original co-sponsors of the resolution.
The act is non-binding and meant to show the intent of Congress on issues over which it has little or no control despite the United States’ close relationship with the United Kingdom.
The marbles, which belong to Greece, are in the British Museum whose officials said they have no intent of returning them no matter who calls for it, including diplomats, academics, politicians, or the Greek government.
Greece’s current ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition has essentially given up the fight saying it would not try to force the return legally but only through diplomatic means, all of which have failed.
Some of the Parthenon’s greatest treasures, the marbles were ripped off the face more than 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin and for many years were called the Elgin Marbles.
The late actress and former Greek Culture Minister Melina Mercouri insisted on calling them the Greek Marbles and with the advocacy of international groups and Hellenophiles they came to be called the Parthenon Marbles.
“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,” Maloney said.
“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.”
In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they were moved to the British Museum where they are one of the most popular draws and showcase ancient Greek history at the height of its then-glorious civilization.
Bilirakis, a long-time champion of Greek issues, said the Marbles are a special treasure that belong in Greece, although some SYRIZA backers said they are a world treasure and not inherently Greece’s anymore.
“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” 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.”
Added Payne: “The Parthenon Marbles are a national symbol and source of pride for Greece. 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.”
Greece opened a new Acropolis Museum in 2009, a structure specially designed to show the Marbles if they are returned and juxtapose them with a view of the Acropolis. The museum has been ranked among the world’s 10 best and a top pick on Trip Advisor of attractions to see in Greece.