Latin: Vesta (goddess)
Goddess of hearth and home. Symbols: the hearth fire.
Winners of the Ancient Olympic events visited the Temple of Zeus to sacrifice to the gods, and half of every animal was delivered to the priests to be prepared for the Olympic feast. That feast, held on the third day of the Games, was marked by a procession. Priests scooped up glowing embers from the fire of Hestia, goddess of the hearth, then carried those embers past spectators singing a hymn to Zeus. Arriving at the Temple of Zeus, the priests mounted the steps and lit the fire in the altar with the embers. There, the priests slaughtered and sacrificed 100 bulls—one at a time—after which the feasting began.
The Olympic flame is one of the most visible symbols of the modern games. It is a tradition from ancient Greece. During the ancient Games, in Olympia, a sacred flame ignited by the sun burned continually on the altar of the goddess, Hera.
The modern Olympic flame was first seen in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics where it burned constantly throughout the games. The Olympic flame symbolises purity, the endeavour for perfection, and the struggle for victory. It also represents peace and friendship.
The tradition of the Modern Olympic Torch began in 1936 at the Berlin Games, to represent a link between the ancient and modern Olympics, and has since remained as an Olympic custom.
In 2004, the torch was ignited, as it was in ancient times, by the sun at Olympia, Greece; and then passed from runner to runner in a relay to the host city. There it was used to light a flame in a cauldron at the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony. The flame burned continuously throughout the Games and was extinguished at the closing ceremony.