Torch-race

P065In the torch-race a torch was passed on in a relay race. The goal was to reach the finish as fast as possible with the torch still burning. As a reward the winner was allowed to light the fire for the sacrifices at the altar. The torch-race was connected with several religious festivals, e.g. the Panathenaic games. The ritual aspect, namely bringing the fire from one sacred place to another without extinguishing it, was far more important than the competitive element.

P219Though the ancient Olympics were also a religious festival, they did not feature a torch-race. In spite of that, the Greek torch-race was a source of inspiration for the introduction of the Olympic flame at the Berlin games of 1936.

© KU Leuven, 2012