The Lovely Stones
P1: The great classicist A. W. Lawrence once remarked of the Parthenon that it is “the one building in the world which may be assessed as absolutely right.”
P2: Not that the beauty and symmetry of the Parthenon have not been abused and perverted and mutilated. Five centuries after the birth of Christianity the Parthenon was closed and desolated. It was then “converted” into a Christian church, before being transformed a thousand years later into a mosque—complete with minaret at the southwest corner—after the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire. Turkish forces also used it for centuries as a garrison and an arsenal, with the tragic result that in 1687, when Christian Venice attacked the Ottoman Turks, a powder magazine was detonated and huge damage inflicted on the structure. Most horrible of all, perhaps, the Acropolis was made to fly a Nazi flag during the German occupation of Athens. I once had the privilege of shaking the hand of Manolis Glezos, the man who climbed up and tore the swastika down, thus giving the signal for a Greek revolt against Hitler.
P3: The damage done by the ages to the building, and by past empires and occupations, cannot all be put right. But there is one desecration and dilapidation that can at least be partially undone. Early in the 19th century, Britain’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire,Lord Elgin, sent a wrecking crew to the Turkish-occupied territory of Greece,where it sawed off approximately half of the adornment of the Parthenon and carried it away. As with all things Greek, there were three elements to this,the most lavish and beautiful sculptural treasury in human history. Under the direction of the artistic genius Phidias, the temple had two massive pediments decorated with the figures of Pallas Athena, Poseidon, and the gods of the sun and the moon. It then had a series of 92 high-relief panels, or metopes. The most intricate element was the frieze, carved in bas-relief, which showed the gods, humans, and animals that made up the annualPan-Athens procession: there were 192 equestrian warriors and auxiliaries featured, which happens to be the exact number of the city’s heroes who fell at the Battle of Marathon.
P4: Ever since Lord Byron wrote his excoriating attacks on Elgin’s colonial looting, first in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812)and then in The Curse of Minerva (1815), there has been a bitter argument about the legitimacy of the British Museum’s deal. I’ve written a whole book about this controversy and would just make this one point. If the Mona Lisa had been sawed in two during the Napoleonic Wars and the separated halves had been acquired by different museums in, say, St. Petersburg and Lisbon, would there not be a general wish to see what they might look like if re-united? If you think my analogy is overdrawn, consider this: the body of the goddess Iris is at present in London, while her head is in Athens. The front part of the torso of Poseidon is in London, and the rear part is in Athens. And so on. This is grotesque.
P5：It is unfortunately true that the city allowed itself to become very dirty and polluted in the 20th century, and as a result the remaining sculptures and statues on the Parthenon were nastily eroded by “acid rain.” And it’s also true that the museum built on theAcropolis in the 19th century, a trifling place of a mere 1,450 square meters,was pathetically unsuited to the task of housing or displaying the work of Phidias. But gradually and now impressively, the Greeks have been living up to their responsibilities. Beginning in 1992, the endangered marbles were removed from the temple, given careful cleaning with ultraviolet and infra-red lasers, and placed in a climate-controlled interior.Alas, they can never all be repositioned on the Parthenon itself, because,though the atmospheric pollution is now better controlled, Lord Elgin’s goons succeeded in smashing many of the entablatures that held the sculptures in place. That leaves us with the next-best thing, which turns out to be rather better than one had hoped.
P6: About a thousand feet southeast of the temple, the astonishing new Acropolis Museum will open on June 20. With 10times the space of the old repository, it will be able to display all the marvels that go with the temples on top of the hill. Most important, it will be able to show, for the first time in centuries, how the Parthenon sculptures looked to the citizens of old.
P7: The Acropolis Museum has hit on the happy idea of exhibiting, for as long as following that precedent is too much to hope for, its own original sculptures with the London-held pieces represented by beautifully copied casts. This has two effects: It allows the visitor to follow the frieze round the four walls of a core “cella” and see the sculpted tale unfold (there,you suddenly notice, is the “lowing heifer” from Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn).And it creates a natural thirst to see the actual re-assembly completed. So,far from emptying or weakening a museum, this controversy has instead created another one, which is destined to be amongEurope’s finest galleries. And one day, surely, there will be an agreement todo the right thing by the world’s most “right” structure.
在文章谈论到希腊政府正在努力从污染中拯救神庙时，作者最后用了一个非常尖锐的讽刺。 作者在这里第二次提到Lord Elgin这个人，让读者们回想起前面作者在第三段中的陈述。第三段中说到Lord Elgin就是那个把雕像“锯”下来带回英国的罪魁祸首。本来大家对这个人的情感应该是极其厌恶的，因为作者在第四段提到环境污染的时候，还用用“goon”，“smash”来加强了这种厌恶的感觉。但是，出乎大家意料的是作者竟然在第四段还感谢了这个人，谢谢他切断这些雕像带回英国，事情没我们现象中那么糟糕，也就是说这些雕像可以留在英国 不用被环境污染所侵染。这里其实是一个反语。作者在第四段开头通过对环境污染的描述让读者再次对神庙的未来忧虑万分，然后作者调侃说，你们这些忧虑大可不必，因为雕像还都在英国呢。作者用这种幽默的方式，尖锐地指出其实在解决环境对神庙的影响以前，更重要的是让神庙变得完整。让读者们对英国扣留神像这件事情更加印象深刻。
Confronted with the cruel withholding of fragments of the Parthenon by British Museum, Christopher Hitchens issues a vehement opposition against this brutality in the article “The Lovely Stones”. The author employs galvanic allusions to history, rational analogy and incisive irony to persuade the reader that those separated portions of Parthenon deserve reunion.
In order to set a foundation for his argument, Hitchens introduces multiple familiar historic events to convince the reader that the Parthenon has survived the vicissitudes of history. One ways she utilizes facts is by referencing “Christianity” which established five centuries after the Parthenon was desolated, indicating that the temple enjoyed a history long before the birth of Christianity. To follow that, Hitchens shifts to mention that the Parthenon transformed from a Christian church into a mosque a thousand years later and accents “after the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire”. The dramatic changeover portrays Parthenon as a victim so tragic that sympathy is aroused. Furthermore, the author points out a role played by “Nazi” in the mutilation of the Parthenon and draws in his reader with a personal anecdote associated with a Greek who “climbed up and tore the swastika down”, successfully providing a baseline for readers to find credence with his claims. Hitchens’ intelligently weaving such household names as “Christianity”, “Byzantine Empire” and “Nazi” into the history of the Parthenon help readers to appreciate its great value. After being challenged to face these inflictions imposed on the body of this historic relic, the reader may turn their awe into obligations to protect the temple.
Ingenious literary skill plays a part in Hitchens’ argument as well, since it builds upon the sentiment basis established at the beginning. Analogy is applied twice to display the irrationality with regard to the issue of the Parthenon. In paragraph 4, he compares the temple to the well-recognized masterpiece, Mona Lisa. It is supposed that Mona Lisa break into two halves, one of which is in Russia and the other Spain. The reader will undoubtedly realize the necessity to reunite this painting. The author here skillfully transfers to the temple the veneration felt for Mona Lisa, making the audience condemn the overbearing misdeed. Hitchens also foresees some disagreement based upon the inequality in value between the Parthenon and Mona Lisa and makes a more self-evident analogy. He assumes that the statue of Iris is beheaded and Poseidon amputated. Any reader who has slightly touched Greek Mythology cannot tolerate such vandalism against the Goddess and God of sea. His/her aversion is again disposed to British Museum, nourishing a yearning for restitution.
With a sharp sarcasm when mentioning the destructive influence of “acid rain” on the temple, Hitchens finally attempts to add power to his argument by striking an emotional chord with his audience. In the end of paragraph 5, Lord Elgin again comes into the spot light. The repeated reference to him reminds his reader of the pre-mentioned narration in paragraph 3, which states that it is Lord Elgin who “sawed off approximately half of the adornment of the Parthenon and carried it” to Britain. That he is the culprit of our issue discussed today piques the audience and such words as “goon” and “smash” chosen by Hitchens in paragraph 5 deepen the readers’ resentment. However, the author delivers an unexpected gratitude to him, claiming “That leaves us with the next-best thing, which turns out to be rather better than one had hoped”, that is appreciating his feat to save the statue from Greece and spare them from the damaging effect of pollution in Athens. In fact, Hitchens casts an irony, because he mocks Lord Elgin’s sin and inferred that those who is now concerned about pollution actually bring owls to Athens as most of the temple is still not in the city but in Britain. Through this humorous satire, the author intensifies the reader’s repugnance at this British ambassador and appeals to worrisome about the retrieval of the Parthenon.
As Christopher Hitchens wishes at the end of the article, “there will be an agreement to do the right thing”, the audience is successfully swayed to urge British Museum to return the plunders of the Parthenon by his allusion to historic events, persuasive analogy and inspiring sarcasm.
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