The Motives of the Thieves of the Elgin Marbles

Nearly a year ago I wrote that the debate about the Elgin Marbles is really a debate about race

The folks in charge of the British Museum – whom I am sure have Greek friends – have been arguing for several centuries that the Greeks in Greece are not deserving of the marbles.

Heck the Marbles are known as the Elgin Marbles instead of the Parthenon Marbles…


The arguments boil down to one of the following

  1. You, Greeks in Greece, are no more related to the Greeks of Pericles than we the English. Essentially the Trustees are making the claim that they are the aribiters of another people’s history.
  2. You, Greeks in Greece, are incapable of taking care of these antiquities. The claim here is that we’re just not as clever or capable of destroying the marbles in the same the Board of Trustees are (see scouring of marbles in 1930’s)
  3. You, Greeks in Greece, are not worthy of these marbles. Don’t get me started
  4. You, Greeks in Greece, should be proud that we English are showing off your stuff! That the Greek heritage is made worthy because of what the English have done and the Greeks so desperate for approval should be grateful for our admiration for your culture
  5. You, Greeks in Greece, were a conquered people who have no rights what-so-ever. And the fact that you are now independent is irrelevant. We bought it from your conquerors and that’s that.

As a Greek the rage we feel towards the Board of Trustees and their supporters is because this is about respect and about history and not about marbles. It’s about having something valuable stolen and then the thief arguing we had no rights to what was stolen.

Every day that they stay there is an insult. And there will be no rest until they are returned.



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