The Parthenon is the most important and best known monument of Greece. It is a masterpiece of architecture, built exclusively of white marble in the period between 447 and 432 BC by the best architects and decorated by the most famous sculptors of its time. It was dedicated to Athena Parthenos, the Goddess of wisdom, the protector deity of the city-state of Athens. Later, it was used as a church and still later as a mosque. Today, it is considered by the whole world as the very symbol of Greece.

The Parthenon is universally recognized as one of the most important monuments of world civilization. Its architecture and sculptural decoration are seen as the culmination of ancient Greek art. But it is also the expression of the spirit of a period which is known as the “golden age” of Western culture and the cornerstone of its lengthy history. This building is a distillation not only of the skills of the Greek people who created it, but also of the political and philosophical thought of their society. Finally, it is the symbol of the struggle of the Greeks for democracy and freedom.

The sculptural decoration of the Parthenon was conceived as an integral whole. It consists of 2 compositions involving a total of 50 statues adorning 2 triangular spaces, called “pediments”, 4 mythological themes illustrated in 92 slabs called “metopes” and the frieze, which consisted of 115 stone blocks and was adorned with a continuous composition depicting the most sacred religious ceremony of the Athenians.

During its almost 2500 years history, the Parthenon was left relatively undamaged by the forces of nature. Unfortunately, it fell victim to 3 man-made catastrophes. In 267 AD, when Greece was under Roman occupation, the tribe of the Herulians invaded Greece, took Athens and burned its most important monuments, including the Parthenon. In 1687, when Greece was under Turkish occupation, the Venetians besieged the Acropolis and a cannon ball ignited the gunpowder that the Turks had stored in the Parthenon. The whole building was blown up. Finally, in 1802, when Greece was still under Turkish occupation, Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to Turkey, removed 12 statues from the pediments, 15 metopes and 56 slabs from the frieze and send them to Britain. He eventually sold them to the British Government which placed them in the British Museum, in London, where they remain to this day.

It was the first time that the sculptures of the Parthenon became separated. They are not freestanding works of art, but integral architectural members of one of the most magnificent and best-known monuments of the world. It is inconceivable that over half of them are exhibited 2000 miles away from the rest and from the monument for which they were expressly designed and carved. It is as if more than half of the sculptures of Borobudur had been hacked off this splendid monument and shipped away to a far off country, to be exhibited in a foreign museum.

For the Government and the people of Greece, the question of the ownership of the sculptures of the Parthenon is not predominant. The overriding objective is their reunification, in the form of the coherent unit they were meant to be. The Greek Government has proposed to the British Government to put aside the question of ownership and to jointly work to reunite all surviving sculptures of the Parthenon in the new Acropolis Museum which has been expressly built, next to the Acropolis, in order to house them. If that proposal is accepted, the Greek Government has promised that it will always loan to the British Museum outstanding works of ancient Greek art, even rare and newly discovered antiquities which have never been seen outside Greece, to be exhibited in its galleries which now house the Parthenon sculptures. This would be the ideal solution to an ethical question that has troubled even British thinkers since the sculptures were initially removed.

Some of pieces of the Parthenon sculptures are exhibited in other museums, the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Museum in Copenhagen, the National Museum of Palermo. They could also find their place in a reunification of the sculptures.

The reunification of the sculptures of the Parthenon would be a dream come true! I dream that their first presentation as a reunified whole would be in Jakarta, in the world class museum dedicated to the masterpieces of world sculpture that I have imagined! A museum fitting for the capital of the country which was the setting of some of the most important cultures of the world, which produced some of the best sculptures of their time!

If this dream could become reality!


P.S Melina Mercouri is one of the few Greeks who have achieved worldwide fame. A brilliant actress, a successful politician, a very dedicated Minister of Culture. She devoted her unbounded energy and talent to the goal of the reunification of the Parthenon marbles. Through her passionate appeals, she has done more than ant other person to present this noble cause to the world. Although she has passed away many years ago, I strongly believe that it would be very fitting that she opens this imaginary event!

Mikis Theodorakis is another of these very few Greeks who are known all over the world. He is by far the most famous contemporary Greek composer, but also a person of principle and courage. He is considered the personification of the Greek soul. One of his best known songs refers to the sculptures the personification of the Greek soul. One of his best known songs refers to the sculptures of the Parthenon. This is the song which will be performed by his orchestra in the opening of our imaginary event! (160)




JakArt secretariat: Jln. Lebak Bulus II / 20 A, Cilandak – Jakarta 12430, INDONESIA
Tel/ fax: + 62-21-75907687, Tel: + 62-21-70830742,