Monday, December 08, 2008

Is Culture Just Politics By A Different Name?

The frieze, the metopes and the wondrous pediments that constitute the Parthenon Marbles represent the acme of classical Greek art, and Athens' fantasitc new Acropolis Museum now provides a proper display for the parts of the Marbles which remain in Greece.

The remainder famously, or infamously, are owned by London’s British Museum, having been "rescued" in the early 19th century by the Scottish aristocrat Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin, from the neglect of the Ottoman regime that then occupied Greece.

Peter Aspden's article, A manifesto for the Parthenon Marbles, (Financial Times Nov 29th) navigates through the controversy-laden history of the Marbles with clarity and thoughtfulness.

As he unfolds the history of the separation of the marbles, Aspden wonders if the positions of Athens and London ever be reconciled. A self-described "interested observer and of Anglo-Greek parentage", he has spent years following the arguments on both sides of the issue, and here proposes a five-point reconciliation plan to help break the deadlock.

Aspden points out, “We owe it to the remarkable humanistic legacy of ancient Greece to move forward on this vexed issue; for culture is politics by a different name, and if we cannot decide on the future of a few marble stones, what chance do we have to do the right thing for all the world’s dislocated peoples?”

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