People - Ancient Greece: Periander
Ancient Greek tyrant of Corinth in the 7th century
Periander in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)
Son of Cypselus, whom he succeeded as tyrant of Corinth in B.C. 625, and reigned forty years, to B.C. 585. His rule was mild and beneficent at first, but afterwards became oppressive. According to the common story, this change was owing to the advice of Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, whom Periander had consulted on the best mode of maintaining his power, and who is said to have taken the messenger through a cornfield, cutting off as he went the tallest ears, and then to have dismissed him without committing himself to a verbal answer. The action, however, was rightly interpreted by Periander, who proceeded to rid himself of the most powerful nobles in the State. He made his power respected abroad as well as at home; and besides his conquest of Epidaurus, mentioned below, he kept Corcyra in subjection. He was, like many of the other Greek tyrants, a patron of literature and philosophy, and Arion and Anacharsis were in favor at his court. He was very commonly reckoned among the Seven Sages, though by some he was excluded from their number, and Myson of Chenae in Laconia was substituted in his place.
The private life of Periander was marked by misfortune and cruelty. He married Melissa , daughter of Procles, tyrant of Epidaurus. She bore him two sons, Cypselus and Lycophron, and was passionately beloved by him; but he is said to have killed her by a blow during her pregnancy, having been roused to a fit of anger by a false accusation brought against her. His wife's death embittered the remainder of his days, partly through the remorse which he felt for the deed, partly through the alienation of his younger son Lycophron, inexorably exasperated by his mother's fate. The young man's anger had been chiefly excited by Procles, and Periander, in revenge, attacked Epidaurus, and, having reduced it, took his father-inlaw prisoner. Periander sent Lycophron to Corcyra; but when he was himself advanced in years, he summoned Lycophron back to Corinth to succeed to the tyranny, seeing that Cypselus, his elder son, was unfit to hold it, from deficiency of understanding. Lycophron refused to return to Corinth as long as his father was there; thereupon Periander offered to withdraw to Corcyra if Lycophron would come home and take the government. To this he assented; but the Corcyraeans, not wishing to have Periander among them, put Lycophron to death. Periander shortly afterwards died of despondency, at the age of eighty, and after a reign of forty years, according to Diogenes Laertius. He was succeeded by a relative, Psammetichus, son of Gordias. See Herod. iii. 48-53; v. 92; Aristot. Pol. v. 12.
Periander in Wikipedia
Periander (Greek: Περίανδρος) was the second tyrant of Corinth, Greece in the 7th century BC. He was the son of the first tyrant, Cypselus. Periander succeeded his father in 627 BC.
He upgraded Corinth's port, and built a ramp across the Isthmus of Corinth so that ships could be dragged across (the Diolkos), avoiding the sea route around the Peloponnese. The money gained from the diolkos allowed Periander to abolish taxes in Corinth. However, Periander was later considered the typical evil tyrant (for example, by Aristotle). Herodotus says he learned his "savagery" from Thrasybulus, the tyrant of Miletus, who instructed Periander to get rid of anyone who could conceivably take power from him. Among his acts were sending young boys from Corcyra to be castrated in Lydia (who are reputed to have escaped and be rescued by the Samians), and the murder (and possible necrophiliac rape) of his own wife, Melissa. Abhorrence for this act was so intense that it was described only metaphorically at the time: "Periander baked his bread in a cold oven" (Herodotus, V 91-93). Their son Lycophron discovered that his father was the murderer, so Periander exiled him from Corinth and forbade any of his subjects to shelter him. Periander later tried to reconcile with Lycophron, but Lycophron refused to return unless Periander abdicated; however, the inhabitants of Corcyra killed Lycophron to prevent Periander from arriving.
Periander's nephew Psammetichus succeeded him as tyrant of Corinth but Psammetichus' rule only lasted three years and he was the last of the Cypselid dynasty. Periander was listed by most authors as one of the Seven Sages of Greece. According to Herodotus, Periander also held the musical contest that was won by the poet Arion. Periander invented the Railway albeit horse-drawn, aforementioned as the "Diolkos".
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