On September 15, 1802, the English brig Mentor sailed from Piraeus, its hold filled with the "Elgin Marbles"--the Classical Greek sculptures that Lord Elgin, British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, had prised from the Parthenon in Athens. The ship was bound for Great Britain, where Elgin intended the sculptures to adorn his family estate. This much is history. William Hamilton, Lord Elgin's personal secretary and a witness to the stripping of the Parthenon sculptures, looks to what should be a triumphant voyage home, but finds himself beset with strange voices. Whispers heard deep in the hold lead to an uncanny encounter with a most unusual stowaway . . . one destined to bring the Mentor--and Hamilton--to the verge of disaster. With the treasures of Classical Athens--a seeming realm of clarity, harmony, and order--lying in fragments around him, Hamilton begins to realize that the Greek ideals his nation has embraced arose from darker origins, and that a genius loci, the "spirit of the place"thought to abide in sacred sites, can be disturbed only at one's peril.