Other Sights

Another summer day, but after a day of street wandering, we needed fulfill a need for cultural sights. We to headed for the British Museum, a short walk from our hotel. Many British museums are open every day with free admission, though the plea for donations requests a modest fee. After entering the Great Court, we headed directly for the Greek antiquities section. I had gone all these years without seeing the Elgin marbles but was ready to follow the Museum’s path through the artifacts of Minoan and Mycenaean culture.

As a graduate student at Cornell, I had lingered in the original Temple of Zeus Cafe, casually sipping not very good coffee under a few of the 1890 plaster casts that Cornell had made of segments of the Pantheon friezes. Like most visitors to the Temple, I took only a passing interest in what seemed merely outdated decorations. Idly I imagined one day visiting the original friezes in the British Museum, maybe even the Acropolis itself. The Museum tries to make the best case possible to justify the early 19th century removal of the friezes from a decaying Acropolis, thus allowing, it claims, for many more people to view the preserved marble sections.

At eye level, the marble is startling bright and clean; the precise details of attire, facial character, and poses convey a vital permanence. And the horses look surprising modern.

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