A New York Times Notable Book chronicling the nineteenth-century scandal of the Elgin Marbles, their removal from the Parthenon, and Lord Elgin’s harrowing fate.
As the Napoleonic Wars raged in the first years of the nineteenth-century, Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin committed one of the most notorious acts of art theft—or was it preservation?—in history. With the blessing of the Ottoman Porte, Elgin removed friezes, metopes and slabs from the Parthenon and other Ancient Greek sites and transported them from Athens to London. The collection, known as the Elgin Marbles, now occupies its own room in the British Museum and continues to stir controversy over what Lord Byron referred to as a disgraceful act of vandalism.
In The Elgin Affair, Theodore Vrettos re-creates in full and colorful detail of Lord Elgin’s exploits: a steamy tale of obsession, intrigue, adultery, imprisonment, and financial ruin. Along the way, he encounters some of the most famous names of nineteenth-century history, including Napoleon, Sultan Selim III, Lord Nelson, Lord Byron, and Keats.
Drawing on original source material letters, diaries, official government reports, and memoranda, Vrettos offers “a vividly told story of greed, deceit, cunning, thievery, obsession, and astonishing cultural arrogance” (Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried).