Welcome to the site of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. These pages contain detailed information on the Parthenon (Elgin) Marbles, together with the case for their return to Athens, Greece. If you would like to find out about the various ways to get involved with the campaign, or simply to learn more about the subject, then please read on.
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Democracy ancient and modern: what can we learn from the Greeks?
Paul Cartledge on democracy ancient and modern: what can we learn from the Greeks?
Fom University of Cambridge, David Runciman presenting 'Election Politics' podcast
And for the book:
- The long story of democracy, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century, including:
- How democracy was born and developed in the ancient world - and the many different forms that it took
- The long centuries of democratic eclipse - from Byzantium to the Renaissance
- The arguments against democracy over the centuries
- The re-birth of democracy in seventeenth century England, revolutionary France, and the United States
- How democracy has been constantly reconstituted and reinvented ever since
To order a copy follow the link:
Classics and/as World Literature conference, Kings College London, 03-04 June 2016
Location: Council Room (K2.29) King’s Building Strand CampusCategoryConference/Seminar, Culture
When: 03 (10:00) - 04/06/2016 (18:30)
Contact for tickets, please visit the King's eStore
Description: Classics and/as World Literature conference
The aim of this two-day international conference is to explore (1) how Greek and Latin classical authors, often in modern-language translations, have historically functioned as part of the colonial curriculum and (2) their status relative to Comparative Literature and World Literature.
World Literature has been advocated as new approach to the study of literature in a globalised age, and as one which avoids the nationalist and colonialist pitfalls of studying literatures in traditional departmental and disciplinary formations. But prominent advocates of World Literature have as yet evaded the challenge presented by the ancient Greek and Roman literature to their conceptual framework.
Histories of World Literature progress from Gilgamesh immediately to Dante and skip everything in between. This conference is designed to address that lacuna and emphasise the rightful place of ancient Greek and Latin texts, imperialist warts and all, at the heart of the 21st-century international World Literature syllabus.
Spaces are limited. Please book your place via the King's eStore
Penwithlit and Edith Hall's Ancient Greeks
Reading Edith Hall’s book on the Ancient Greeks, develops a deep respect for the power of poetry. No poet was more effective in this regard than Homer recounting the sea adventures contained in the ‘’The Odyssey’’. It shaped the self-definition of a nation and engendered self-confidence. The mariners set out in their beautiful ships across the Aegean and established colonies to the West, in the Mediterranean as far as the Pillars of Hercules, to the East as far as the Levant and built trading cities in natural harbours along the fertile edges of the Black Sea. They were, as Plato wrote in the Phaedo, “around the sea, like frogs and ants around a pond.” They were encouraged by Delphic oracles and inspired by the company of diving dolphins.
The structure of Hall’s account is clearly set down at the start with a useful chronology from the Myceneans in 1500 B.C. to the close of the Delphic oracle in 395 A.D. providing a clear context for the following text. It also gives a framework that neatly conveys the interaction between individuals, resources, military conflicts, the arts, sports, social upheavals and importantly the contributions of recent research. Anyone reading this book will discover how much our understanding of the Greeks has developed currently from new excavations, discoveries and recent scientific techniques. The first four strongly interconnected qualities that Hall ascribes to the Greeks are that they were seagoing, suspicious of authority, individualistic and inquiring. Further, they were open to new ideas, witty, competitive, admired excellence in people of talent, were exceptionally articulate and were also addicted to pleasure.
Read more here
Warfare and economics conference, London 27-29 April 2016 at University College London
On 27–29 April, the departments of History and Greek & Latin at University College London are organizing a collaborative conference to bring together recent scholarship on the interplay between economics and ancient warfare.
“War,” Thucydides wrote, “is not about weapons, but money.” The ancients saw the link between economics and warfare, and throughout antiquity their understanding of these two areas of human activity developed hand in hand. Wars were fought over resources and trade networks; states experimented with ever more sophisticated forms of wealth extraction to finance their campaigns. The development of state finances allowed war to grow ever more sustained and professional, evolving from the border raids of untrained Greek militias to the world-conquering campaigns of Imperial Rome. Writes Roel Konijnendijk
Who owns Culture? Dr Tiffany Jenkins on the Parthenon Marbles
Tiffany Jenkins certainly knows how to raise eyebrows, not least those of her fellow panellists discussing “Who owns Culture” on Start the Week, BBC Radio 4, Monday 15 February, 2016. And no wonder. Let us consider a string of pronouncements which cannot pass unchallenged.
Did Elgin save the marbles from being “ground for mortar”? Possibly some the rubble from the explosion of 1687 was being thus recycled. Because of the difficulty of transporting building materials in antiquity it was established practice to reuse available fallen masonry. It is however highly unlikely that any of the pieces that Elgin’s workmen hacked and crowbarred off the Parthenon were at such risk?
Did Elgin rescue them from damage through exposure to the elements? With hindsight, yes. Acid rain certainly damaged those left in situ, but acid rain was not a problem in Athens in the 18th century. It did not play a part in Elgin’s purpose.
Were the marbles “Decontextualised” in the British Museum? No. They were Recontextualised. Their original context was incorporated in the British Museum’s artificial construct. Their original context is inalienable. The British Museum’s is contingent.
Is repatriation an invalid concept because “no object is where it was created”. Unless I am corrected my understanding has always been that raw blocks of marble were transported to the Acropolis and sculpted there. Indeed, as the work proceeded, on the Parthenon itself. This is fundamental to our argument – that the Parthenon is a fixed monument (and not any old fixed monument) and the marbles belong with it.
Does it matter that “they cannot go back on the Parthenon”? Isn’t it now established curatorial practice for monumental sites to have museums attached, for contextual purposes, to display related objects AND if necessary to protect vulnerable pieces from exposure to the elements. The Acropolis Archaeological Park and the Acropolis Museum are an outstanding example.
Does it matter that “they aren’t the same as the originals” (which were olychromatic)? That may be relevant to the question as to whether they should be repainted but it is not relevant to the reunification of the single artistic entity. The form is more important than the original painted surface.
Does it matter that you “only 65% survives”? What matters is that what survives is divided roughly 50/50 between London and Athens. Since when has it been a requirement that 100% completeness is necessary to restore a work, particularly monumental masonry?
Was the argument when they arrived in England more about their worth than the manner of Elgin’s acquiring of them? Certainly Tiffany Jenkins can cite men of culture who regarded them as a heap of old ruins, and certainly much of the discussion in the Select Committee convened to consider their purchase was on the level of “never mind the quality, feel the width”, but the evidence is, and indeed much of the justification for retaining them, that they were valued for their transformatory cultural effect.
As for Tiffany Jenkins assertion in her book that “few doubt the legal right of the British Museum to keep the Elgin Marbles”, the less said the better.
Eddie O'Hara, Chairman BCRPM
Openings: Judgment is not set in stone by Tiffany Jenkins
Letter in the Financial Times in response to Tiffany Jenkins article 12 February 2016 Openings: Judgment is not set in stone.
Keeping Their Marbles: How the Treasures of the Past Ended up in Museums, and Why They Should Stay There by Tiffany Jenkins
Museums shouldn’t be sending any treasures back, insists this forthright study. John Carey Published: 14 February 2016 in the Sunday Times Review
Classics for all
This month marks a year since BCRPM lost a long serving Deputy Chairman, Christopher Price.
Chris continues to be missed, his energy and dedicaion to the campaign for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles was second to none.
His obituary written by Julia Langdon in the Guardian can be read online here.
Sitting with Chris in Athens on a number of occassions from 2000 to 2009, soaking up the Attica light, I was in awe of his knowledge and passion for the classics. He was a firm believer in classics for all. A belief shared equally by new BCRPM member Edith Hall.
Edith's article on the importance of access to ideas from classical antiquity was published in the Guardian Review and can be read on line here
Edith Hall's Ode on a Grecian Quarry
Judith Hall's 'Ode on a Grecian Quarry' lifted our January spirits. If you haven't read this blog, do make time to do so, even after January. We also appreciated the photos which were graced by that Attica light -we're certain that the TV crew found it perfect for their filming too.
And so to the thought about where the fragmented Parthenon Marbles would best be viewed. The 'crowbarred ' frieze blocks, metopes and pedimental statues that were removed in the early nineteenth century by Lord Elgin and transported to Britain, would look amazing - when and if - they might be reunited.... in Athens.
To read Edith blog, view it here