Amal Alamuddin is representing the Greek government in one of the most controversial cultural arguments of recent history as she prepares to try to win the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The Elgin Marbles, as they are called in the United Kingdon, are the classical sculptures from Athens’ ancient Parthenon that are housed in London’s British Museum. They were removed from the ruins on the Acropolis by British ambassador Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, in the early 19th century.
Greece and activists throughout the world call it a a scandalous cultural heist when the marbles were stripped from the temple and taken illegally by the British diplomat under the approval of the Ottoman leaders at the time. British officials maintain it was a sensible protective measure. The rightful ownership of the marbles has been fiercely debated for decades.
The poet Byron protested their removal at the time, musing “cursed be the hour when from their isle they roved”. More recently, celebrities, politicians and average citizens alike have joined the bandwagon to return the marbles to Greece, but British museum officials remain firm that they are the rightful owners.