A marble fragment from a frieze decorating the Pantheon temple that had been stolen by an Austrian soldier during World War II has been returned to its rightful place. Read all about one woman’s act of poignant courtesy.
According to news sources, a lady named Martha Dahlgren inherited the piece, whose inscription was dated February 1943, during the three-year occupation of Greece by the Axis powers.
Greece welcomed back the marble fragment, which measured 2.8 by 12 inches, in a special ceremony. It was the third piece of the Pantheon Marbles to make its way home this year after the Vatican returned a small fragment on a one-year loan last month and a museum in Sicily gave back another piece in September.
Dahlgren’s grandfather had broken off the piece from the frieze adorning the Parthenon's inner colonnade, and she decided to return it to its rightful owner. Greek Culture Minister, Michalis Liapis said:
“Today we honor the return of an architectural part of the Acropolis ... It is a very symbolic return.”
Greece has increased its demands for the recovery of the Pantheon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, which the British Museum has had on display since 1816. The Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, were bought by the British Museum in 1816 and are exhibited as a prized part of its collection in London. The British Museum repeatedly has rejected Greek calls for the return of the 2,500-year-old frieze on the grounds that its statutes would not allow it to do so.
Liapis added: “The request for the return of the Parthenon Marbles has exceeded the borders of our country. It has become the request and the vision of the global cultural community.”
Well, Greece, it looks like you have at least one honorable woman among your ruins. Perhaps there are more out there waiting to do the right thing?