Buy The Parthenon

Greece is $380 billion is debt. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has responded to an EU-IMF reform-for-aid plan by announcing that the “Greek people should be proud, because the government is not going to give in to absurd proposals.” So everything’s on track for a midsummer collapse. But Britain, if so inclined, could help stave off disaster for the beleaguered Greeks.

For the last few years, amidst her financial crisis, Greece has flirted with the idea of selling off state historical assets. The UK should ease Greece’s debt problem and buy (the rest of) the Parthenon. Britain could offer an enormous (many-billion-pound) cash payment, along with an even larger, very-low interest loan, for which the British government could surely get extensive private sponsorship.

Very far-fetched, perhaps, but there is some precedent. It wouldn’t be the first such structure to find its way to a museum. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin has the massive Pergamon altar from an acropolis in Asia Minor and the Ishtar gate from Ancient Babylon. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has an entire Roman-period Egyptian temple named Dendur, brought to Manhattan from the banks of the Nile. And the British Museum already has the Nereid monument, the facade of a Classical Greek tomb. The Parthenon would obviously be a big step up, but not an altogether incomprehensible one. It could be safely displayed in a new, gigantic gallery of the British Museum, and make it an even more popular tourist attraction.

[Joshua Gelernter (2015), Standpoint]

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