Apr 27, 2007

NEW YORK CITY – The Met recently unveiled its new Greco-Roman gallery. As a lapsed classicist, I had to visit. Especially since the Euphronios krater isn't long for this bel mondo.

Looted from an Italian tomb and smuggled to the States, the "hot pot" cost the museum $1m. Curators finally confessed last year and agreed to return the 12-gallon wine-mixing pot (the ancient Greeks partied hearty).

Repatriation is a tricky topic. Native people's bones? Absolutely. The Parthenon Marbles? Stop stalling, you limey twits ... But every single stinking potshard? Maybe not.

I know, I know. The 2,500-year-old krater is a signed masterpiece, which Thomas Hoving, former Met director, called "positively the finest work of art I've ever seen."

Indeed, the hot pot is lovely. But standing in the glorious new gallery, a light-box conservatory-courtyard, I'm not sure it's worth the tempest... The mixer's not a disinterred ancestor nor the symbol of a nation. It's just a sublime example of the art that underpins much of western civilization.

And last I checked, even New York City could lay claim to that heritage.


  1. Anonymous11:25 AM

    last i checked you're american, thus you're part of the systematic, organized preying of everything of value wherever and whenever opportunity arise. So i don't think you're entitled to judge what's civilization and what isn't.

  2. Happy Forth of July to you too!