After 1,500 years, pagans plan Acropolis prayer
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A small group of pagans pledged Thursday to hold a protest prayer among the ruined Acropolis temples, more than 1,500 years after Christians stamped out worship of the ancient Greek gods.
Group spokeswoman Doretta Peppa said the worshippers would pray Sunday to Athena — goddess of wisdom and patron of ancient Athens — to protect the 2,500-year-old site. Peppa said followers of the old religion object to the removal last year of hundreds of sculptural masterpieces from a tiny museum on the Acropolis to a large new building under the citadel.
In a statement, her group, Ellinais, described the landmark glass and concrete structure as “an incredible architectural monstrosity that insults (Greece’s) cultural heritage.”
The $190 million building is where Greece hopes one day to display the Elgin Marbles beside the other Parthenon sculptures. Greek officials have said it will open next month, displaying some 4,000 artifacts. The Elgin Marbles were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the 19th century, when Greece was still an unwilling part of the Ottoman empire. The British Museum has repeatedly rejected Greek calls for their return.
Peppa told The Associated Press she would prefer the Acropolis sculptures to have stayed at the ancient temples — from where they were removed by Greece over the past 30 years to stop erosion from Athens’ polluted air.
“But even if we accept a new museum was needed … it should be in a style close to that of the ancient buildings,” she said. “It’s not a museum of modern art.”
Peppa’s Athens-based group, Ellinais, is campaigning to revive ancient religion and has defied Culture Ministry bans to hold prayers at several ancient temples.
She said she would not seek state permission for the ceremony, to be held near the ancient Parthenon temple, built between 447-432 B.C. in honor of Athena.