The Classical era is the time roughly from the Ionian revolts in the year 500 B.C.E. to the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the late fourth century B.C.E. It is the peak of the Greek Polis, the independent city-state based on the Attic example. However, even during this time there are still tyrants and kings, for example in Sparta. Our modern impression of the Classical era is largely shaped by the dominance of Athens, which over a long time represented the mightiest military power in Ancient Greece, fueled by the military victories in the Persian wars. Besides Athens, there were other important centers, such as Thebes, Corinth, Delphi, Sparta, or colonies like Syracuse and Ephesos,
The Persian wars gave rise to two major alliances, the Delian League, headed by Athens, and the Peloponnesian League, headed by Sparta, who struggled for influence over Greece. Despite attempts to divide the territories peacefully, the dispute escalated into the Peloponnesian war in the last third of the fifth century B.C.E. The war should take almost thirty years, at its end Sparta had won the dominance over Greece from Athens. However, both cities were immensely weakened by the conflict, so that other cities were able to now grow their influence and power. The fourth century B.C.E. saw Thebes rise to power, only to be eclipsed by the emerging kingdom of Macedonia. Philip II of Macedonia established the firm dominance of Macedonia over the rest of Greece with his victory at the battle of Chaironeia in 338 B.C.E.