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How The Parthenon Lost Its Marbles

2811 words - 11 pages

Disagreement regarding the ownership of property has caused quarrels among the human race for the better part of its documented history. The concept of “ours” and “sharing” is really only practiced among small groups of people. Even in small groups, quite often, these ideas are not practiced very well. One major current battle for ownership lies in the world of antiquity. The Parthenon of Athens, Greece, has an enormous amount of history. It has stood since 400 BC as a treasury, a church, a mosque, and above all a symbol of the genius of art and architecture that originated in ancient Greece (Beard, The Parthenon 44). Now in ruins it stands as one of the biggest controversies in the art world. The conflict is between the British Museum and the Greek government. The Greek government has been campaigning against the British Museum since the late 1800s. They are campaigning for the return of the priceless friezes and sculptures that once decorated the interior and exterior of the Parthenon. These sculptures are commonly referred to as the Elgin marbles. The Greeks are fighting for the return of their history. The Parthenon is the oldest standing structure in Greece. It represents all the great philosophers and inventors of Athens. The Greeks cannot take pride in their culture when it is miles away. Also, the Greek campaign is a step toward returning art to other countries and families that the British Museum has illegally obtained. The British Government has become something of a “playground bully” in the art world. The time has come for the British Museum to return what belongs to the Greeks and bring an end to its self-seeking actions.In order to fully understand the situation with the marbles, a short history lesson is necessary. The most obvious place to start is Athens when the Parthenon was constructed. What it was originally constructed for is a bit hazy. The most agreed upon theory is for religious practices, although evidence has found that theory weak. Scholars have said it to be a vault, a virgin house, or a monument of Athens’s past victories (Beard, The Parthenon 44). However, whatever its purpose, the Parthenon has been standing for over 2000 years (Silverman par 1). Throughout those years, it has seen more changes than a college freshman. The first changes brought on the Parthenon were made by the Christians whom Proclus referred to as “people who move things which should not be moved” (Beard, The Parthenon 55). When Christianity became the main religion, of Greece, it did its best to erase Paganism from Greece. Around the sixteenth century the Christians made a few slight adjustments to the Parthenon, by converting it into a cathedral. The original east entrance was blocked by an apse, which was made of recycled remains from surrounding buildings. A new entrance was made on the west end, to comply with Christian standards. Windows were cut into the frieze for more light. The most important...

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