Bilirakis Co-Sponsors Legislation Calling for Parthenon Marbles to Be Returned to Greece
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, introduced a resolution today calling on Great Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The Marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek Government to retain the Marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the Marbles to Greece. Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) are original co-sponsors of the Concurrent Resolution.
“The Parthenon marbles are some of Greece’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty, and should be on display in their country of origin,” said Rep. Maloney. “They are vital pieces of Greek history that belong to the Greek people. The people of Greece as well as the visitors who travel from all around the world to experience the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the Marbles. This resolution calls upon Great Britain to finally return these treasures to their rightful home.”
“Art provides a window into history and its expression is liberty,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the City of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”
“The Parthenon Marbles are a national symbol and source of pride for Greece,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “These sculptures were taken from Greece, and that is where they belong. Great Britain should do the right thing and reunify the Parthenon temple’s treasures in their homeland.”
The Parthenon, largely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest architectural wonders, is the preeminent symbol of Greek cultural heritage, including its art, architecture, and democracy, and of the contributions that ancient made to civilization. More than 100 pieces of the Parthenon Marbles were removed from the site between 1801 and 1816 and now reside in the British Museum. The Greek people have sought the return of these pieces since it won independence from Ottoman rule in 1830.