Return The Parthenon Marbles To Greece

Debate at Cadogan Hall – 11th June 2012.

Chaired by Zeinab Badawi of the BBC
For the Motion Andrew George, British Liberal MP, Chairman of Marbles Reunited and Stephen Fry, actor, writer and broadcaster
Against the Motion Tristan Hunt, British Labour MP & Historian and Felipe Fernandez Armesto, Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, USA

Why are We Debating This?

Lord Elgin stole the marbles and sealed the deal with the Ottoman Empire. Do the British government and the British Museum think by signing a piece of paper with an illegal government occupying Greece that they can legalize theft?

Parthenon Marbles
Parthenon Marbles – Where they are right now – in the British Museum

Or do they think it gives them ownership rights? Or by ‘caretaking’ Greek national treasures that Greece should be ‘proud’ to have their marbles displayed in the British Museum (the viewpoint taken by one of the speakers). Why on earth would Greece want the Parthenon Marbles showcased in some other country and not in their own? After 200 years of doing Greece this ‘favour’, isn’t it time to ‘give it up’ and send the marbles home?

Parthenon Marbles
Parthenon Marbles – Where they are right now – in the British Museum

Against the Motion
“Greece never disputed the marbles’ legal ownership“
ME: By disputing something you cast doubt on your ownership and recognise the looter’s claim. There is no doubt about the true owner – it is Greece.

Against the Motion
“If the marbles were transferred to Athens they would be a mirror instead of a window. The only way to understand their true value is to keep them in the British museum where they can be compared to other cultures of the time“
ME: So Mr. Felipe Fernandez Armesto, you are saying the marbles would be devalued if returned their rightful setting and country of origin – are you kidding me?

Against the Motion
“The British Museum is willing to make loans of the marbles subject to the usual conditions – it is absolutely critical to any loan that you should be willing to give it back“
ME: I completely agree Mr. Armesto, don’t you think it’s time you gave the marbles back to Greece?

After the Vote
After the Vote – Debate Results

This was published by The Australian on the 29th March 2011

Once more the director of the British Museum Neil Mac Gregor repeated his refusal to return the Parthenon Marbles recalling his intention to lend them to Greece for a small period of time.

Food for Thought
Is the British Museum clinging on to the Parthenon Marbles because they are a main attraction and provide substantial income?

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