Greek Language Blog

Olympic flame Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Culture

The Olympic flame (Ολυμπιακή φλόγα) is one of the most famous Olympic symbols (σύμβολο), commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus (Δίας) by Prometheus (Προμηθέας). Its roots lie in Ancient Greece where a flame was kept throughout the Olympic Games.  Heralds (κήρυκες) were sending messengers (αγγελιοφόρους), wearing olive crowns, to announce the games and to declare peace across the nations and all competitors throughout the competition.  The fire was reintroduced at the1928 Olympics.

The idea for the modern torch relay (λαμπαδηδρομία) tradition is not as old as you may think.  It was introduced in 1936 Olympic Games when the flame carried by runners using a torch from Greece to Germany. The lit of the Olympic flame (αφή της ολυμπιακής φλόγας) takes part in the area of the sanctuary of Olympia, on the altars of Zeus and Hera (Ήρα), situated in front of their temples.

The fire is obtained from the sun’s rays with the use of a parabolic mirror during a traditional ceremony where the high priestess (πρωθιέρια) asks from the god of the sun Appollon (Απόλλωνας) to light up the fire. The flame represents piece, friendship and unity.

At the end of the ceremony the flame is passed to first torch speeder, while the first flame is kept in a special place for the next four years until the next Olympic Games. Over the last seventy years thousands of people have had the honor to carry the flame which has been transported in many different ways. It has travelled by car, bicycle, boat, plane, ski, wheel chairs, camels, horses and even underwater.

Finally, the last torch speeder brings the flame to the host city of the Olympic Games at an opening ceremony which marks the official start of the Olympic games.

It is considered a great honor to be the first or the last torch speeder.

ps: Sorry for the video but I couldn’t find a proper one in English 🙂

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