The classical period of ancient Greece lasted for 200 years. During this time there was a grand feeling of transition. Wars were fought and freedom was established, though not without some discourse. Many Greeks that held power were fearful of a democracy that would force them to relinquish it. The elites of Athens, for example, supported the oligarchy. However, it was the average citizen and the middle class that brought about change. Though it was a popular idea with the middle class, there was still some lingering reluctance. Several elements were key in order to gain favor of a democratic system. These elements include but were not limited to:
- Rise of the city-states. Each separate city was governed by its own citizens. The basic elements of this self-governance included: urbanization and architecture, a social hub, and marketplace for the exchange of commerce, sacred areas such as temples or alters, common public areas such as theaters, protective elements and military, and the manufacture and distribution of its own money.
- Greco-Persian Wars. Essentially, the Persians sought to conquer Greece through a series of conflicts that lasted many years. The Greeks fought hard but were continuously outnumbered. In the year 480 BCE, the city of Athens was burned in the largest campaign mounted by the Persians. However, the following year, Athens, along with the allied city-states, defeated the Persians, bringing an end to the invasion of Greece.
- The Overthrow of King Hippias. In 510 BCE, Athens, along with support of neighboring Sparta, successfully overthrew the tyrant, King Hippias. Afterwards, much debate was made as to who would ascend the throne. With much support from the middle class, Cleisthenes took control. Considered by many to be the father of democracy, Cleisthenes presented the citizens of Athens with a path to equal rights. Thousands of citizens gathered and made their voices heard as new administrators and city officials were elected. The goal of this democracy, as Cleisthenes saw it, was to allow the people to govern. In the following years, Athens saw the rise of other political interest groups, giving birth to a democratic, multi-party system.