During the first decade of the 19th century the agents of Lord Thomas Elgin (British Ambassador to Constantinople 1799-1803) removed whole boatloads of ancient sculpture from Greece's capital city of Athens. The pride of this collection was a large amount of fifth-century BC sculpture taken from the Parthenon, the temple to the goddess Athena, which stood on the Acropolis hill in the centre of the city.
The Parthenon sculpture included about a half (some 75 metres) of the sculpted frieze that once ran all round the building, plus 17 life-sized marble figures from its gable ends (or pediments) and 15 of the 92 metopes, or sculpted panels, originally displayed high up above its columns.
These actions were controversial from the very beginning. Even before all the sculptures - soon known as the Elgin Marbles - went on display in London, Lord Byron attacked Elgin in stinging verses, lamenting (in 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage') how the antiquities of Greece had been 'defac'd by British hands'.
Others enthusiastically welcomed the arrival of the sculpture in London. John Keats penned a sonnet to celebrate 'Seeing the Elgin Marbles' in the British Museum, and from Germany, JW Goethe hailed their acquisition as 'the beginning of a new age for Great Art'.
¿Quieres saber más sobre Historia Clásica y Antigua?
Puedes subscribirte al feed RSS de www.historiaclasica.com o bien seguirme por Twitter