‘Pagans’ protest in Athens

I wonder how pagan they are. Do they hold regular sacrifices, for instance. Still, they managed a newsworthy protest.

from the Guardian

Thrusting their arms skywards and chanting Orphic hymns, Greek
pagans yesterday made a comeback at the Acropolis as they added their
voices to protests against the imminent inauguration of the New
Acropolis Museum.

Ignoring a sudden rainstorm and irate
officials, white-clad worshippers gathered before Greece’s most sacred
site and invoked Athena, the goddess of wisdom, to protect sculptures
taken from the temples to the new museum. It was the first time in
nearly 2,000 years that pagans had held a religious ceremony on the
site.

“Neither the Romans nor the Ottomans or any other
occupational force ever took anything from this holy site,” said Yannis
Kontopidis, one of the high priests who officiated over the affair.

“It’s
scandalous that antiquities of such value, carved in honour of Athena,
should be wrested from their natural environment and moved to a new
locale.”

Not since Pericles oversaw the construction of the
Parthenon had any of its classical artworks been officially removed –
until last year, when thousands of items were transferred by crane to
the New Acropolis Museum beneath the citadel.

The £94m glass and
concrete edifice, designed by the Swiss-American architect Bernard
Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis, has divided
Greeks.

Supporters praise its cavernous space and have claimed
the building will offer better protection of the antiquities and a
superior viewing space for spectators, who previously had to negotiate
the confines of a tiny museum atop the hill.

Government
officials said its opening later this year should end the British
Museum’s argument that Athens has no place decent enough to house its
classical artworks, including the Parthenon sculptures on display in
London since Lord Elgin seized them from the temples more than 200
years ago.

An Ipsos-Mori poll, conducted before the new
museum’s inauguration, recently showed that 69% of Britons believed the
marbles should be returned to Greece.

However, opponents,
including architectural purists, have argued that the new museum
insults Greece’s cultural heritage, it being in the wrong location and
far too big in grandeur and scale.

Yesterday’s ceremony
represented a major coup for Greek polytheists whose faith, which is
described by the powerful Orthodox church as a “miserable resuscitation
of a degenerate dead religion”, has long been banned in the country
that gave birth to the gods of Mount Olympus.

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