British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explained yesterday at the U.K.’s Parliament that he had to cancel his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as the upstart threatened to discuss the Britain Empire’s theft of the ancient Greek statues from Athens’ Parthenon. Their position is, apparently, that the Empire stole them fair and square over 200 years ago, when Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin, as Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, had them carted off.
Since most of the statues were made by the famous Athenian sculptor-architect Phidias in the 5th Century BC (at a time when Socrates was a skilled stonemason working on the Parthenon), they are more properly called the Parthenon Marbles or the Phidias Marbles. However, the British honor the man who stole them, calling them the “Elgin Marbles.”
Sunak claimed that Mitsotakis had agreed not to mention the “Elgin Marbles,” but his office had taken notice of a recent interview in which Mitsotakis dared to call on the British to return the statues. Sunak explained: “When it was clear that the purpose of the meeting was not to discuss substantive issues of the future but rather to grandstand and re-litigate issues of the past, it was inappropriate.” Evidently, in matters of theft, propriety is an important concern.