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The tradition of the Olympic flame is one that connects the modern Games with their ancient heritage. In the ancient Greek Olympic Games, a large basin of fire was kept alight for the entirety of the ceremonies and competitions. The constant flame mirrored the theft of fire by the Titan Prometheus, humanity’s supposed creator, from the Greek god Zeus. Prometheus’s gift of the flame to humanity was said to give humankind its nudge toward civilization—for the modern Olympic Games, it represents consideration of that myth, an ode to the growth of civilization, and the ancient tradition of the Games. Modern Olympic flame tradition dates back to the 1928 Olympic Games, when the first Olympic flame since ancient times was lit. In 1936 the tradition of the torch relay began, in which a torch is lit from a basin of fire at the original location of the Games in Olympia, Greece, and runners carry it to the host country of that year’s Games in a symbolic race from the past to the present.


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