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Be true to human nature, value Games: Olympic Flame ceremonies High Priestess


15:10, July 18, 2012

ATHENS, July 17 (Xinhua) -- As the Olympic Flame travels across the United Kingdom before it will reach London for the start of the 30th Olympics on July 27, it is interesting to hear what the Greek lady who lit the sacred flame in ancient Olympia on May 10 had to say about the ceremony, the games and herself.

In the leading role of High Priestess during the ritual lighting and hand over ceremonies of the Olympic Flame for the 2012 London Games this May in Olympia and Athens, Ino Menegaki "prayed" to the Gods of Greek mythology that the Sacred Light will give strength to athletes and spread the message of peace worldwide.

In a recent interview with Xinhua at the headquarters of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) in Athens, the Greek actress called on all citizens of the world to value the Games, the diachronic principles of the Olympic movement, and try to be true to human nature.

"The yardstick of our lives should be 'as true as we can to ourselves'. We could give a series of interpretations on this, but allow me to say just that 'be true to our human nature'," she said in her own interpretation of the messages transmitted through the ceremonies ahead of each Olympics and the values of the Games.

As a protagonist in the Lighting ceremony held on May 10 this year at Olympia, the birthplace of the Games 2,500 years ago, and the Handover ceremony on May 17 at Panathinaikon Stadium in Athens, the venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896, Menegaki stuck to the script and the choreography.

Through words and steps inspired by ancient Greek literature and images on pots, as leading member of a team of artists playing the roles of priestesses and warriors with no weapons, she tried to stir and transmit to spectators worldwide the strong emotions the spirit of the Games can trigger. She did it.

Maybe because the talented renowned artist strongly believes herself in the value of sport and the Games in improving our personalities and lives. "I love the Games. I strongly believe in the value of sports," she stressed, pointing to the ancient Greek philosophy that through exercise one trains body and spirit, "since they are inseparable."

As a graduate of the Greek National Theatre Drama School, with most of her professional activity having been dedicated to Greek ancient tragedy, Menegaki's encounter with the Olympic Flame -- for the first time in 1996 as a priestess -- was somehow a part of a "natural process".

She walked a long course, making the right choices, that somehow led her to the role of High priestess, which she regards as a great honor for her and any artist, as she noted.

"Protagonist in Greek (Protagonistis) means first in the race, means you are the first to reach a place, the first to work. It is a great honor for anybody to be a protagonist," she said.

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