Ritual reignites Marbles debate

A few days after Greece handed the Olympic Flame to Britain, which is hosting the Olympic Games in July, another eminent Briton joined the chorus of those calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

In an article in Sunday?s Observer, veteran journalist Henry Porter called on Britons to look beyond Greece?s economic crisis and consider Western civilization?s debt to the country. ?I am suggesting that in the light of everything Western civilization owes Greece — in terms of democratic ideas, the Olympics, science, art and architecture — we should begin to address a simple truth: The Parthenon Marbles are not ours to keep,? Porter wrote in the piece titled ?The Greeks gave us the Olympics. Let them have their marbles.?

In the article, which sparked a lively debate on the website of its sister paper, the Guardian, and beyond, Porter argues that returning the Marbles would not set a precedent, as museum authorities have claimed. Few works fall into the category of the Marbles, ?which inspire deep feelings of national loss and yearning,? he wrote.

Porter?s appeal follows those of compatriots including the late Christopher Hitchens and British actor and writer Stephen Fry, who recently said Britain returning the Marbles to Greece ahead of the London Olympics would be ?just so damned classy.?