*LETTERS TO THE EDITOR; Lord Elgin, the Parthenon and Greece*>
Published: June 23, 2009> Regarding the op-ed articles ''A home for the Marbles,'' by Christopher> Hitchens, and ''Majestic in exile,'' by Nikos Konstandaras, (Views, June> 19):
The Parthenon remained intact until the 6th century, at which point the> inner columns and roof were removed in order to make way for a Christian> church. When the Ottomans took over in 1456, the building became a mosque.> When the Ottomans were at war with the Venice, the Parthenon was used as to> store munitions, and, in 1687, it was hit by a Venetian shell and blown up.> By the time Lord Elgin arrived in 1801, the marble fragments were being> used for building materials by the locals. The Ottomans allowed him to take> casts and remove sculptures as well as tear down buildings where necessary> The Parthenon was restored to artistic and historical importance thanks to> the splendid drawings of Western artists.> I don't care who has the Elgin Marbles, but I do care that Lord Elgin is> slandered as a robber and vandal. Had he not saved the marbles, they would> most probably no longer exist. Christine Fremantle, London> ''Greece,'' even in antiquity, refers to a geographical area in which Greek> was spoken, a common culture evolved and a shared religious pantheon> existed, but it was never a unified state nor even a country. It was a> complex and highly competitive collection of little states such as Athens,> Sparta, Thebes etc.> The modern Greek state (founded in the early 19th century) may see itself> as the protector of the legacy of ancient Greece, and given the character of> any form of nationalism, this makes a certain amount of sense.> In the British Museum, the Elgin Marbles take a position among the great> achievements of art and architecture of humanity -- be they Egyptian,> Babylonian, etc. In a global age, museums such as the British Museum or the> Metropolitan Musem in New York or the Louvre have a certain parallel to the> great Alexandrian library that drew to itself the tangled threads of antique> civilizations during the early period of Hellenistic ''globlization.''> It would indeed be a pity to see the great Elgin Marbles reduced to being> simply artifacts put on the shelf of Greek nationalism or a platform for> political self furtherance or debased as part of tourist development> program, which is really what all of this is about.>> Nicholas P. Stavroulakis, Hania, Crete.