“The Parthenon and Byron” on the Occasion of 200 Years Anniversary Since Byron’s Death.

On the occasion of 200 years since Lord Byron’s death, the Acropolis Museum
honours his memory with a small, symbolic exhibition related to Lord Elgin’s seizure
of the architectural sculptures of the Parthenon.

It is said that Byron’s last words before his death were about Greece: ‘I gave her my
time, my health, my presence, and now I am giving her my life. What more could I
have done?

And yet, as one will notice in the small presentation at the Acropolis Museum ground
floor, Byron left us one more, unexpected gift, that contributes eloquently and
powerfully to the arguments for returning and reuniting the architectural sculptures of
the Parthenon. It is Byron’s passport, an authentic Sultanic firman, which allowed
him to travel across the territory of the Ottoman Empire. The firman-Byron’s passport
provides yet another opportunity to challenge the argument of the alleged existence
of Elgin’s “firman” which ostensibly sanctioned the removal of the Parthenon
sculptures. Other than the firman, Museum visitors will have the opportunity to see
the “Exodus from Messolonghi” (1827) by Louis Joseph Toussaint Rossignon, one of
many painters inspired by this subject.
The small exhibition and the publication accompanying it include three sections: a) a
selection of annotated traveler images from the Acropolis and the Parthenon (by
Carrey, Dodwell, Fauvel, Pars, among others), from a time before Lord Byron and
the plunder of the monument’s sculptures by Elgin up until the constitution of the
modern Greek state and the founding of the archaeological site of the Acropolis in
1834, as seen in the exhibition video, b) a short biography and excerpts from Byron’s
poems “The Curse of Minerva” and “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”, which refer to the
brutal detachment and destruction of the Parthenon’s architectural sculptures by
Elgin and their subsequent underhanded seizure and removal, and c) Byron’s
original passport, a genuine, unexpected Sultanic firman [Islamic royal mandate or
decree], exhibited for the first time in the Museum, and serving as an opportunity to
reopen the discussion on the return and reunification of the Parthenon sculptures.
The exhibition “The Parthenon and Byron. On the occasion of 200 years anniversary
since Byron’s death”
will open to the public on Friday 26 April 2024 at the
Museum’s ground floor. No ticket is required to visit this space. A bilingual
publication (Greek-English) will be available in the Museum Shops from Monday 29
April 2024.

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