On the eve of human rights barristers Amal Alamuddin Clooney and Geoffrey Robertson's visit to the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, it would seem that Melina Mercouri's dream for the return of the Parthenon sculptures, sadly known as 'the Elgin Marbles', might actually come true in the not-too-distant future.
Scholars from the world over, art lovers as well as enlightened film stars who use their fame for noble causes, seem to have moved the lines of public opinion if not public opinion itself (let us not underestimate public opinion) that made theirs move.
No, it will not be a matter of a 'breach to empty all the museums of the world' as some, ill informed or ill-disposed, would maintain. As lovers of art and museums, let us refuse to voice so irresponsible a judgement, devoid of the most elementary historical information, so much is the acquisition of the Parthenon sculptures a case apart, a bad historical novel against a background of corruption and political and personal opportunism.
Trying to generalize this particular case to apply to all collections of all museums would be as uncalled-for and unjust as the British Museum's current refusal to turn over the sculptures to the Parthenon from which they were removed.
In addition to repairing an historical injustice, the return of the sculptures will repair an artistic aberration: disfiguring the Parthenon by removing an emblematic part of its content and exhibiting the result of this disfigurement separately in a museum thousands of kilometres away renders both the part and the whole illegible for any person aware of what Greek art, constituent of European identity, represents.
The sooner the British Museum makes this decision, awaited by all Greeks as well as by all Europeans, the more it will heighten the Museum's stature. It was Lord Byron, who gave his life for Greece, whom our English friends should hear: "Society is now one polished horde / Formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and the Bored."
Far from the 'polished hordes', it is to Citizens passionate about truth and justice that museums should dare address themselves.