ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The crusade to return the Elgin Marbles
from Britain to the ancient Parthenon has enlisted help from
government leaders, diplomats and artists to no avail. Greek
culture officials now hope that tourists can help.
Beginning Friday, visitors to the 2,500-year-old temple will be
offered a pamphlet outlining the appeal for the British Museum in
London to restore the so-called Elgin Marbles, comprised of 17
figures and parts of a 160-yard frieze. The marbles were taken in
the early 19th century by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the
``We are trying ... to bring the issue to the surface,'' said
Yiannis Tsakopiakos, president of the Greek Federation of Guilds in
the Culture Ministry.
Members of the federation, one of the ministry's labor unions,
will disseminate 300,000 leaflets until Oct. 17 at the entrance to
the Acropolis, the rocky rise in central Athens dominated by the
Parthenon. The fliers are published in Greek, English, German,
Italian and Spanish.
The appeal describes the Parthenon as ``denuded and truncated,
its wounds gaping open.'' Also included are letters of support from
a professor emeritus at the University of London, Robert Browning,
and the late Greek culture minister Melina Mercouri, who led the
campaign for the return of the marbles until her death in 1994.
British leaders have refused to relinquish the collection. Some
supporters of keeping the marbles at the British Museum contend
returning them could set a precedent for other countries to demand
indigenous objects scattered around the world.
Greek officials hope the marbles will one day be housed in a new
Acropolis museum due to be completed by 2004, when Athens hosts the