Ancient tradition accounted for four temples that successively occupied the site before the 548/7 BC fire, following which the Alcmaeonids built a fifth. The poet Pindar celebrated the Alcmaeonid's temple in Pythian 7.8-9 and he also provided details of the third building (Paean 8. 65-75). Other details are given by Pausanias (10.5.9-13) and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (294 ff.). The first temple was said to have been constructed out of olive branches from Tempe. The second was made by bees out of wax and wings but was miraculously carried off by a powerful wind and deposited among the Hyperboreans. The third, as described by Pindar, was created by the gods Hephaestus and Athena, but its architectural details included Siren-like figures or 'Enchantresses', whose baneful songs eventually provoked the Olympian gods to bury the temple in the earth (according to Pausanias, it was destroyed by earthquake and fire). In Pindar's words, addressed to the Muses:
- Muses, what was its fashion, shown
- By the skill in all arts
- Of the hands of Hephaestus and Athena?
- Of bronze the walls, and of bronze
- Stood the pillars beneath,
- But of gold were six Enchantresses
- Who sang above the eagle.
- But the sons of Cronus
- Opened the earth with a thunderbolt
- And hid the holiest of all things made.
- They were angry at the sweet voice,
- Because strangers perished
- Away from their children
- And wives, when they hung
- Their lives on the honey-hearted words.
The fourth temple was said to have been constructed from stone by Trophonius and Agamedes.
Read more about this topic: Delphi
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