Francesko Morosini
(1619-1694)

In the meantime, the Venetian parliament had voted almost unanimously in favor of authorizing Morosini to detach the best Athenian antiquities and to bring them to Venice. Morosini failed to detach the best-preserved statues from the west pediment, because of its collapse, and only managed to send the marble lion from the Acropolis, one marble lion from Thesion, and the famous lion from Piraeus (to Venice).

These three lions have decorated the Naval Port of Democracy in Venice ever since. Some of Morosini’s officers, Venetians and mercenaries among them, also took what antiquities they could easily carry with them. His secretary, San Gallo, removed a statue’s head from the west pediment, a piece now on display at the Louvre museum. Another Venetian officer detached part of the frieze with two horsemen and a horse’s head; now housed in the museum of Art History in Vienna. A Danish officer detached two heads from the Metopes on the north side, both now exhibited at the National Museum of Copenhagen.

The Venetians abandoned Athens after less than two years, leaving the Acropolis once again in the hands of the Ottomans. The Ottomans built a mosque on the site of the temple’s ruins and around it they built houses, though fewer than before the bombing.

Morosini’s ill health impelled him to return to Venice in 1688. Five years later, he launched further military campaigns against the Ottomans but eventually fell ill in Carystos, where he died in January 1694, aged 75. His corpse was transferred back to Venice, where he was buried with honors.

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© Copyright 2003 : Amir Sobati