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The Athens of the North? Scotland and the national struggle for the Parthenon, its marbles, and its identity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-195
JournalAevum. Rassegna di Scienze storiche linguistiche e filologiche
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


This article analyses the physical and cultural appropriation of the Parthenon by 19th-century Britain, and specifically Scotland’s role in this matter in relation to England and France. The article proposes a new explanation for the choice of the Parthenon as the architectural model for the Scottish National Monument, and argues that Edinburgh’s famous title of ‘Athens of the North’ developed a new meaning in close connection with, and probably as a consequence of, this debate. By highlighting the many and contradictory variations on the theme of the alleged similarities between Scotland and Greece, the paper points out how the Parthenon was meant to be ‘restored’ through its physical reproduction in Edinburgh, as an example of the means through which Western culture seized on and regarded Greek antiquities in terms of national pride and international competition.

    Research areas

  • Ancient Greece, classical reception, Scottish politics, British empire, 19th century, British imperialism, Parthenon, Scotland, national monument, Lord Elgin

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