idea that the modern greek nation state has any more than a coincidental connection to athenians in the 5th C BC who wouldn’t understand the notion of a coherent greek state and a identity is just a nationalist fiction. they don’t “belong” to the greeks anymore than they belong to the uk. we shouldn’t indulge an explicitly nationalist wedge issue designed to foster a false sense of grievance, such things are only fuel to be exploited for racist ends. the frieze of the parthenon became famous because of its location in the british museum. it was incredibly hard to see in its original form, due the angles of its location very high up near the roof in poor light, and rarely discussed in historical literature. it was left abandoned and scattered around the site of the ruins of the parthenon, in of itself not considered anywhere near as important as a symbol pre-19 c and left to ruin by countless regimes. one of which idiotically used it as a munitions storage, with predictable consequences. since then it has inspired huge numbers of artists and sculptors and has been a vital part in our fascination with classical civilisation. people aren’t seduced by the actual reality of monuments from classical civilisation as incredibly decorative objects, coated and painted in vibrant colours. they are instead fascinated by the modern re-contextualisation of these artifacts, presented as stripped down to a bare form. that’s what went on to inspire moore and rodin. as such historically the collection bought from lord elgin says just as much about the past and how it relates to the present in their current location as they would in athens - they are an artifact of how victorian britain sought credibility for their colonial dominance in the perceived logic and technocratic rule of ancient athens. as important to the creation of an enlightenment view of what western european civilisation is and meant and it’s supposed rightful dominance over the globe as the music of beethoven. i’m in favour of lending them out regularly for global exhibitions, including in athens, and i don’t think they are exclusively british either, these works have many different meanings. i just hate the propaganda about them.