‘Periander baked his bread in a cold oven.’

Periander’s death in the 6th century BC was the first recorded suicide in history. There is so much conflicting information on him that it’s hard to know what kind of man he was or what drove him.

We do know he was the Second Tyrant of Corinth, and even that is misleading. In Periander’s time, a ‘tyrant’ favored the poor over the rich. He built Corinth into one of the major trading centers in Ancient Greece. He promoted literature and the arts. His business policies were so successful he was able to abolish personal tax. By some accounts he was a fair and just king that worked to ensure the needy were provided for. By other accounts he was a harsh and cruel ruler.  

This brings us to the ‘bread’ and ‘cold oven’ quote from Greek historian Herodotus. It stems from the charge that Periander killed his wife and—had sex with her dead body. That isn’t nice.

But this did not drive him to grief or suicide, at least not directly. His son, upon hearing of the terrible acts his father committed, fled the country, never to return.

Late in life, Periander summoned his son to take over as ruler of Corinth. When the news came that his son had died, Periander was reportedly so filled with remorse that he ordered to two soldiers to kill and bury him in the forest. He didn’t want his enemies to find his body so he ordered two more soldiers to follow and kill his ‘assassins’. And to cover those tracks he ordered two more soldiers to follow and kill those soldiers. So in addition to being the first recorded suicide, Periander was the first suicide ‘launderer’.

There is much more. Draw your own conclusions….

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