Most Britons Don’t Even Want the Elgin Marbles

Ilissos. Marble statue of a river god from the West pediment of the Parthenon, designed by Phidias, Athens, Greece (438 BC–432 BC). ©The Trustees of the British Museum.

By now, we are all familiar with the British Museum’s adamant refusal to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece. But what has transpired, thanks to a recent poll conducted by the market research firm YouGov, is that only a quarter of British citizens support the decision to keep the ancient sculptures in their adoptive home in London.

The survey, whose results were made public yesterday, revealed that a staggering half of the participants think the Parthenon marbles should in fact be repatriated to Greece, from where they were taken by Lord Elgin, British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1801 and 1812. A quarter of the poll participants remained undecided on this issue.

However, the opinion is divided regarding the British Museum’s controversial decision to lend the sculpture of the river god Ilissos to St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum to celebrate its 250th anniversary.

Results say that 39 percent of Britons support the loan to Russia, which has irked the Greek government and triggered a vast number of criticisms, while 37 percent is opposed to it.

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