There is no doubt as you travel throughout the Mediterranean and the Levant of the great treasures that the classical Greeks created. From the Parthenon atop Acropolis to the Greek theatre in Siracusa.
Whether reviled for their cunning in the Trojan War or admired for the creation of democracy, Greece dramatically fashioned the ancient world. Wherever they settled, whether by invitation or will, Greeks were bearing gifts of civilization, democracy, art, architecture, engineering, science, sculpture, theatre and games. Their memorial rests in the great structures and sculptures in their cities built in many countries over the many hundreds of years.
At home, stands the remnant of their greatest structure, the Parthenon on the Acropolis. It still stands despite war, fire, being blown up, raped and pillaged by races from afar. Pillagers who cared nought for the magnificence of the perfection of the structure in its design, engineering and sculpture.
The justification for accidentally blowing up the Parthenon seems today to be more valid than the apparent greed that led to the ‘theft’ of the frieze. The subsequent glorification by the great British establishment of the monument robber, as Elgin should rightly be remembered, highlights the lackofrespect by the powerful for culture. Even today those marbles lie sadly alone in England, bereft of their rightful place in Athens. The British tourists suffer little or no embarrassment in their justifications as they tramp around the shell of the Parthenon and sip beer on a hot summer’s day at the base of the mount.
Yet the Greeks are bringing this gift to the world, the world’s most famous and valuable monument, is coming back to life. Stone by stone, block by block the Parthenon is being reborn. Its renaissance is palpable to a visitor who only occasionally climbs up the Acropolis to stand near what must have been the source for Palladio’s architecture, so similar was his engineering. For this great building one could well justify the spending of the over €100M of bribes given by the German contractors for the Greek Navy submarine project. Yet possibly the amount to be spent till the draft completion date in 2020 is somewhat less. One but wonders where is the understanding of the value of Common Goods, the culture of each country.
The second great modern gift is the Acropolis Museum, which is proof, without any doubt, that Greece has a safe place to display the marble sculptures stolen from the Parthenon. This grand glass and stone structure houses in its top level a reconstitution of the Parthenon frieze. One looks down through the glass floor to the levels below, down four levels to the basement where the 1000 BC historical town resides. Whether your interests in ancient architecture and sculpture is academic or casual, this museum is the pride of Athens and a joy to behold, inside and out.
Its ‘father’ is Dimitrios Pandermalis, a classical archaeologist who presided over the building’s construction and is now curator of the museum. In him and the team, which envisioned and created this magnificent structure, memorial and seat of learning, Greece has its Human Treasures.
Thank them for their gift and help them to succeed.