Tyrant of Corinth for four decades, following in his father’s footsteps, who was tyrant before him, Periander was known as a cruel despot, closer to the modern connotation of tyranny. He even treated the local artistocracy harshly.
Despite his cruelty, however, he was also known for his furthering the prosperity and power of Korinthos, partly by promoting it commerce, and bring it to the status of most important maritime power of the age.
Under his rule the city also established colonies and annexed the island of Kerkyra (Corfu). Thus Korinthos became the most important economic Greek power. Periander prohibited the purchase of slaves, and passed laws against luxury, vice and idleness.
He planned to cut a canal through the isthmus (this more than two millennia before the Corinth Canal was actually built), but was unable to muster the engineering resources. He was also a poet who authored some 2000 verses (all maxims), and patronized poets and artists.
Two of his sayings were , ‘Do nothing for the sake of money’, and ‘Attention is everything’.