When it comes to the Parthenon Marbles, being pro-repatriation is a given for Greeks worldwide.

But unless you have the time to run a campaign, chances are your stance on the issue is not documented and thus not visible.

The dispute between the UK and Greece has rumbled on for decades, despite efforts by successive Greek governments and prominent campaigners.

They include Greece’s former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri and Emanuel Comino, the 89-year-old today Greek Australian credited for initiating the international campaign for the reunification of the sculptures.

Emanuel Comino is founder and chairman of the historic International Organising Committee – Australia – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles (IOCARPM), and vice-chair of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures (IARPS). Photo: Supplied

Giving an effective fight for a cause though, requires both those leading the way and those helping spread the word with their support.

Delphi Bank has launched an important initiative inviting us to do both, by signing the National Petition for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Renowned artist and cultural advocate Natalie Rompotis has shown her support of the Petition by working with Delphi Bank to create artwork which boldly states ‘Strength in Unity’, her inspiration for the pieces. This comes from a Greek saying attributed to Aesop, highlighting the unmatched strength in togetherness.

“Our shared cultural experience with our customers and community remains at the core of who we are, and we look forward to uniting the wider community through raising awareness of this social issue,” Jim Sarris, General Manager of Delphi Bank says.

The initiative was developed with the co-operation of the Australian Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, led by Elly Symons and George Vardas.


Facilitating the joining of forces for Hellenes and philhellenes Down Under, the petition is seeking justice for history, our heritage and cultural roots, by asking that the Parthenon Marbles be returned from the British Museum to their home in Athens, Greece.

The Committee represented by Ms Symons and Mr Vardas states “confident Australians will lend their support to the reunification of the divided sculptures in Greece and within sight of the Parthenon monument”.

But how exactly did they become displaced from their rightful home and why is this still the case?

Fast facts (to resort to when explaining to a non-Greek friend the Parthenon Marbles saga)

– What exactly was taken?
A large collection of the classical sculptures and architectural pieces, including 17 figures (such as the torso section of Athena, the famous horse head and a well preserved Dionysos) and around half of the surviving frieze, containing 14 metopes (the rectangular slabs adorning the outside of the temple, each of them depicting a self-contained mythical scene)

– Who was Lord Elgin and why did he remove parts of the Parthenon?
Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin was in early 19th century the appointed British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which then included Greece. He organised a mission to Athens with architects, painters and moulders with the stated purpose of studying, sketching and making casts of the Parthenon sculptures. But he soon started orchestrating the removal of original architectural pieces from the Acropolis, including from the Parthenon temple. The items were kept at his private residence in London before he sold them in 1816 to the British state. They have been housed at the British Museum ever since.

– Illegally obtained
Up to this day, one of the arguments put forward by the British Museum is that they were legally obtained by Lord Elgin based on permission granted by the Ottoman authorities. However, the legality of the document this claim is based on is disputed and evidence has demonstrated that in fact Elgin engaged in acts of theft using illicit means, including bribery, to seize and export the Parthenon sculptures, without real legal permission.

– Amputated monuments
Greece has categorically rejected as untrue the recent claim made by the British Museum’s deputy director on the conditions under which parts of the Parthenon Marbles were removed. “Much of the frieze was in fact removed from the rubble around the Parthenon[…]These objects were not all hacked from the building as has been suggested, ” Dr Jonathan Williams told an annual UNESCO meeting in May 2022. But extensive correspondence between Elgin and his delegates survives to this day documenting the use of saws and machinery used for the removal of architectural pieces from whole structures. Repatriation campaigners even cite witnesses of the time having documented that the sculptures were violently detached from the temple.

*Scroll down to the end of the article for 3+1 things you might not know about the Parthenon Marbles

Restituting the artistic and sculptural integrity of the Parthenon in its rightful home is one of the key repatriation arguments. Here visitors seeing exhibits from the Parthenon Marbles collection kept at the British Museum. Photo: AAP via EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA

Make your voice on the repatriation issue heard

The Return of the Parthenon Marbles to the Acropolis will reunite in one collection an emblem of cultural heritage and democracy for Greeks.

For Delphi Bank, advocating for the repatriation cause is an imperative stemming from the close ties this initiative has to its people, the Greek Australian community and the heritage of Hellenism benefiting the broader community worldwide.

“It’s about the strength that lies in unity of community when fighting a common cause, and the strength of culture and heritage which comes from at long last unifying the marbles with their homeland,” says General Manager, Jim Sarris.

By signing Delphi Bank’s petition, you can help lead the way in Australia for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The Petition – to be submitted to the British Government via the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Australia – provides for an opportunity to have your say on why you’d like the Parthenon Marbles to be returned to Greece.

“These creations are more than pieces of art, they are the heart and soul of Hellenic culture, they are our DNA, the beacon of democracy, civilisation and the best that our culture has created and gifted to the world. They can only be displayed in situ under the Attica sun,” writes a Delphi Bank customer and signatory.

Today, the surviving marbles are to be found in two countries, 1500 miles apart. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Let’s help put an end to one of the world’s most important archaeological debates, by helping to lead the way for the return of the Parthenon Marbles,” says National Community Engagement Manager Paul Orfanos.

The Petition is available for signing across all Delphi Bank branches in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, as well as online.

Find out more about the campaign on the Delphi Bank website and social media accounts – search @delphibank.

Take action today and sign the Petition by visiting https://www.delphibank.com.au/leadtheway/

Did you know that…?

  • The process of removal and transportation of inscriptions, sculptures, and architectural members from the Acropolis by Lord Elgin lasted 4 years.
  • The Parthenon Marbles collection was purchased by the British state from Elgin for the price of £35,000, following a vote outcome of 82 in favour and 30 against at the House of Commons.
  • Among prominent pro-repatriation politicians, former US President Bill Clinton had reportedly backed the Greek demand: “If it would be me, I would give them back immediately,” then Greek Minister of Culture Elisavet Papazoi said Mr Clinton told her during his 1999 Acropolis visit.
  • Recently, Italy returned to Athens a piece that belongs to the Parthenon frieze known as the “Fagan fragment”, which according to current Greek Minister of Culture, Lina Mendoni, helps set “Greece’s just and legal request to the UK government on a new basis.”