The Parthenon Marbles, the lost treasures to Greek civilization should be returned to the place in which they were made. Many Greeks appeal to the emotions of the British government, but I, however, will discuss the “legality” of England’s purchase of the Marbles. All facts from this essay are drawn from Melina Mercouri’s keynote speech to the Oxford Union in June of 1986 (Mercouri).
First, I draw attention to Lord Elgin’s purchase. At the time of the transaction, Greece was controlled by the Ottoman Empire, the Turks, and the Ottoman Empire has controlled Greece for nearly four hundred years. This is where the morality argument comes into play. The Parthenon Marbles were made by the Greeks. Greece as a nation conjures images of the Parthenon, thus the marbles, in a way, are a part of Greek citizens. Greek people were not consulted when the marbles were purchased, nor did the…show more content… Lord Elgin, hit by hard times in 1816, needed to sell the marbles to the British government, and as a result, a committee was formed to decide if they could purchase the marbles. To approve the purchase of the marbles, the committee needed to determine if Lord Elgin had properly purchased the marbles as a private consumer, not as a British Ambassador. This is not unlike how art is bought and traded today. The Earl of Aberdeen, who was on the committee stated that he did not think a private consumer could have purchased the marbles. A few other points to note is that Elgin requested a firman from the Sultan of Constantinople and had the marbles transported to England on His Majesty’s Ship. I argue that no private citizen, regardless of wealth and social status, could have obtained these marbles from the Turkish occupants of Greece. However, the Select Committee, knowing and acknowledging this information as true, purchased the marbles