When I am at a loose end in London and feeling jittery or upset, one of the best cures for the condition is an excursion up to Bloomsbury and the British Museum. Here my exhibit of choice is to be found in the Elgin Rooms and the Duveen Gallery—those famous sculptures rescued by Lord Elgin from destruction in Athens at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Known as the Elgin Marbles, these fine sculptural fragments from the Parthenon now bear the spiritual claw marks of Greece’s own Wicked Witch of the East, better known as Melina Mercouri, the Greek socialist government’s minister of culture. For some time she has been nagging the British government, media, and public about taking the Elgin Marbles back to Greece. “For every Greek,” she says, “they represent our identity, our soul, our blood. We have fought for them.” She gives no specifics about where this bloody battle has...


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