One of the hallmarks of the Modern Olympics is the carrying of the Olympic Torch commencing several months before the Opening ceremony. Although the idea originated from the Ancient Olympics, many developments have been made from the original Torch rituals. The biggest difference is the introduction of the Olympic Torch relay which has become symbolic in the weeks leading up to the Games.
The Olympic Torch is lit in the site of Olympia by eleven Vestal Virgins, using a mirror as in Ancient times to guarantee purity of the flame, and is carried by several famous athletes from the prior Olympic host to the new host stadium. The Torch then lights the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony in the central host stadium which is kept lit for the whole Games, which is the same as the Olympic flame lit on the altar of Prytaneion on the Sanctuary of Hestia in Olympia in Ancient times which also burned for the duration of the Olympics. Whilst there have been additions to the ancient rituals involving the flame, both flames have the similarities of their message as the Modern Olympic Torch is seen as a symbol of human achievement and freedom deriving from Prometheus taking fire from the Olympian gods to give to humanity and the Ancient Olympic flame shared this message as well as being a tribute in honour of the support of Zeus, Hera and the other Olympians’ approval of the Games.