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, and the murder of his own wife, Melissa. 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.
According to Herodotus, Periander also held the musical contest that was won by the poet Arion.