On April 1, 2021, from the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros received a Proclamation from Mayor John Cooper celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821. Joining Archbishop Elpidophoros and Mayor Cooper were His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou of the Hellenic Republic, and George Horiates, the Supreme President of AHEPA. This event was planned in cooperation with the Archdiocesan Bicentennial National Coordinating Committee.
Long before the first twang of the Grand Ole Opry was heard or the first record pressed in “Music City USA”, Nashville was and is a regional center of education and culture that stressed the classics. In 1896 as Tennessee celebrated its centennial, a huge exposition was planned for this state capital. The centerpiece was the Greek Parthenon. Although temporary, the Parthenon of Nashville was rebuilt with permanent materials, opening in 1931 in Centennial Park.
In size and form, the Nashville Parthenon is a reproduction of the Greek original with a tolerance of less than a 16th of an inch. As in the original, no two lines are exactly parallel, nor are they exactly equal in length. The columns that seem evenly spaced from a distance are actually varying distances and angles from each other.
The local committee chair led by its chair, George Anderson welcomed the dignitaries, including AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates and Nashville mayor John Cooper through a guided tour of the Parthenon Museum, within the Parthenon itself. Mayor Cooper provided a Proclamation to His Eminence and both His Eminence and Ambassador Papadopoulou provided heartfelt remarks.
The remarks were not just a celebration of Nashville as a center of Hellenism in America and a celebration of the Greek Bicentennial. It was also to address the fact that so many of the sculptures and friezes on the original Parthenon have been taken illegally and have never been returned. The Nashville reproductions of the originals are based on photographs and sketches from those in the British Museum and the Louvre.
Many in the crowd were from the local community in blue and waiving the Greek and American flags. Members of AHEPA Nashville Chapter 343 were a strong contingent, proud to wear the moniker of “The Athens of the South.”. Thus the event was a journey through time, not just to the Greek revolution but indeed to 2500 years before, to the Golden Age of Greece.
Over 60 percent of the original sculptures from the walls of the temple were torn down. No one person, organization or country has the right to maintain ownership of art, artifacts and indeed, a country’s cultural property. It is wrong these treasures remain on display for profit in the trophy cases of foreign museums. It is wrong they have not been returned to Greece voluntarily.
Return the Parthenon Marbles.