Was Victor Elgin, Viceroy of India a lord or looter? His illegal removal of Pantheon sculptures in Greece

9th Earl of Elgin, /en.wikipedia.org

India achieved freedom from the British after a pretty long struggle. They left the country  . 
in 1947 divided into two nations  with millions of emaciated people with bleak future and almost empty treasury, not to speak of millions of death in the border areas of Pakistan and India due to rampage and riots related to religion and sectarian violence. The British under  inefficient Lord Mountbatten left quietly after their long stay here for more than 200 years  during which time their total looting was, as per latest estimate, more than $ 45 trillion, a whopping sum. Paradoxically, when they entered Bengal  India as a mercantile trader, the English economy was in a poor state. By the time they left India, Britain became an Empire with many nations under the Union Jack and this political, economic and military success  was primarily due to vast revenue  secured from from India  through wheeling and dealing. India was  a milch Cow for them.

Not just India, British also stole valuable  stuff from around other countries that were under their control. The British colonies were used to be called common wealth  nations. As a matter of fact they were the lifeline of the British economy a major share was contributed by India. So you may call them  a group of nations commonly looted by Britain  to make the  royals and aristocrats happy and richer. 

This post deals with  Lord  Victor Elgin who acted as Viceroy of India and who was bogged down by a sensational  criticism and controversy,  Lord Elgin was highly criticized for transfering  2500 year old historical marble sculptures removed from old Parthenon Wall, Acropolis,  Greece to London and sold them to the British government, along with hundreds of other antique items taken from Athens

Lord Victor Alexander Bruce, 9th Earl of Elgin, (16 May 1849 – 18 January 1917),  was a right-wing British Liberal politician  and  served as Viceroy of India from 1894 to 1899. He was a member of a Commission  appointed by Prime Minister Arthur Balfour to investigate the Boer War in 1902 to 1903 and the excesses. While serving in India he was on a trip to  Dharamshala and died midway and his body was buried in the church at Dharmashala. His tomb is very much there.  This church is a popular  in Himachal Pradesh and visited by a huge number of travelers from all over the world.  

British museum, temporary Elgin room upload.wikimedia.org

Above: This painting shows the Temporary Elgin Room at the Museum in 1819, with portraits of staff, a trustee and visitors. Designed by the Museum’s architect, Robert Smirke, the room was for the temporary display of the sculptures from the Parthenon brought from Athens by Lord Elgin known as the 'Elgin Marbles', purchased by the Government and deposited in the British Museum in 1816.

Pantheon marbles, london museum. indiatimes.com

 In November 1898,Lord Elgin,  was appointed as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople under the Sultan of Turkey. Then Greece was part of Ottoman Empire  In 1803, Lord Elgin transported a historical 2500 year old engraved marble from  the  Parthenon Wall to London, thus paying utter disregard for the culture and legacy of  greek's history.   Elgin statement that he took the marble  with due permission  from the  authorities - Ottoman officials who had authority in Athens at the time,  had no proof. Greek's  attempt to  get the historical slab from the London museum ended in failure. 

The Athenian Parthenon marbles, 75 meters from the frieze carved under the direction of the Greek sculptor Phidias and other temple metopes, are known in the UK as 'the Elgin marbles' because they were extracted from the monument and brought to the England by Elgin, the British diplomat.

Stolen Pantheon marbles from Greece, London Museum. dw.com

Above image: Return of marbles from London was one of the topics discussed in the election in 2023. The british govt. said  it had no plans to change the laws that prohibit such items from being removed from the British Museum's collection.  The British Museum, meanwhile, also has denied any chance of the Marbles' immediate return. It seems just like Kohinoor diamond (stored in the tower of London) seized from the royal family of Ranjit Singhji of Punjab centuries ago, the Pantheon marbles will never reach the homeland - Greece............................... 

On orders from Elgin his agents removed  half the surviving Parthenon sculptures, as well as sculptures from the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaia over a long period  from 1801 to 1812, It was a time-consuming and delicate job of extracting valuable marble sculptures without making any damages Efforts were made to display them in a private museum  in London. The marbles' continuous presence in the British Museum is the subject of long standing international controversy and debate. .Thus lord Elgin though a senior British official  with considerable political clout had to face a barrage of serious criticisms. Some leading men supported the  acquisition from Greece but prominent people like Lord Byron, equated Elgin's actions to vandalism or looting. In the House of Commons in 1816 Elgin told the members that he got the firmen (legal order) from the Sultan in July 1801, further confirmed by high officials like the governor of Athens and military - Disdar commander of Acropolis Citadel  and then  another firmen March 1910, authorizing second shipment of marbles to England. Though he was cleared of the allegations that he had acquired marbles illegally or misused  his official power, his version of events had some holes. The debate  over the purported firmend  still continue. So, Lord Elgin had to carry the sigma of illegal removal of big chunk of monument in a third world country for ever.