Speaking of things that are really, really old…
Episode 50: In which Roma, Mars, and Minerva prepare to defend their own, and also uphold the Roman tradition of laughing at Greece.
This episode of Real Housewives of Mt. Olympus brought to you by the latest archaeological news on ArtNet.com – and by CLAS-C 351 Change and Innovation in Ancient Greece.
MARS, ROMAN GOD OF WAR: Man, talk about a blast from the past. The last time anyone was scared of being invaded by Greeks it was, what, Alexander the Great? Good for them for getting back up on that warhorse, at last.
MINERVA, ROMAN GODDESS OF STRATEGY: I’m sure they’re not invading. It’s probably that Greece has been pretty active of late in demanding their cultural artifacts back from other countries. Give me that scroll so I can find out what is actually going on.
MARS: Oh yeah, I remember when we sacked the Greeks and stole all their art. Good times. For us at least.
ROMA: I can read, I know what’s going on. Sculptures from the Parthenon have been in Italia for many centuries. But now a popa is ordering a high priest in Rome to give those sculptures back to the high priest in Athens.
MARS: Wait, a popa, like the sacrificial attendant? How is one of those getting to order high priests around?
ROMA: Presumably he is threatening them with violence. A popa does carry an axe, and has to be strong enough to stun a bull with it. Also, I don’t know how else people interact.
MINERVA: (reading) It’s the Pope, not a popa. And trust me, this Pope isn’t capable of physically intimidating anyone. But the rest of what you said is surprisingly accurate. The Pope is ordering the Vatican Museums to give the sculptures to an Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church.
MARS: Are they going to put the statues on display in an Orthodox Church? Major hipster points there. I loved that trend, when mortals used all the best Greek sculptures as decorations for religious sanctuaries. That’s where Venus and I first picked up our collecting habit for statues of sexy youths. Are any of these sculptures sexy youths?
ROMA: Ew. If you must know, one sculpture is of a youth’s head.
MARS: She and I can work with that.
MINERVA: This must be connected to how the Greek government has been demanding the return of all the statues taken from the Parthenon. They’ve been going on about it for centuries.
ROMA: The Greek government has been trying for centuries to rescue three statues from an Italian temple? The Greeks really are militarily incompetent.
MINERVA: First of all, the sculptures were in the museum, not a temple. Second of all, I think the Greeks have been focused on the huge cache of Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum. Why the Pope feels the need to white-elephant-gift his way into the discussion, I’m not sure.
ROMA: Again, it can’t possibly be hard to get something back from a puny little island like Britannia. Maybe we needn’t be worried about them demanding our statues back. Why do they want the Parthenon sculptures so badly anyway? Are they going to recreate the temple?
MINERVA: They say it’s because the sculptures were stolen from the Greek people. And they represent the most famous artistic achievement of Greek heritage.
MARS: So, they want to recover sculptures that were carved thousands of years ago, to highlight how nothing else of interest has happened in Greece since then?
ROMA: Wait, did you say at the base of the Acropolis? Isn’t that your most famous sanctuary? In the heart of the ancient and modern city? I am surprised they found an open spot upon which to build a museum.
MINERVA: Oh no, they absolutely destroyed a bunch of modern houses, and then had to salvage excavate a ton of archaeology in order to build the museum.
MARS: We’re talking about the museum to protect the archaeology. Specifically as it relates to the modern occupants of Athens.
MINERVA (putting on helmet, reaching for her spear): Good point. Forget our sculptures, they’ll be fine. We’ve got an Athenian landmark to sack.
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Be sure to check in on the continued repatriation adventures of Minerva, Mars, and Roma! To learn more about what the Greek world actually accomplished besides the Parthenon, enroll in CLAS-C 351 Change and Innovation in Ancient Greece, coming Spring 2023, no pre-reqs or previous experience required. Or to learn more about how Romans connected conquest and religion, enroll in CLAS-C 102 Ancient Roman Culture, coming up Spring 2023, and earn GEC credits while you’re at it! Or to explore the politics of returning artifacts across international borders, look for CLAS-A 301 Classical Archaeology, coming next Fall 2024, also no pre-reqs or previous experience required. Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!