On of the defining achievements of the Greeks was the theatre. More than just a form of art, the theatre in ancient Greece was used to encourage debate and to help solve problems, such as through comedy. For example the politicians of the time, who may have been sitting in the audience, were openly caricatured, and the plays carried an important message. The theatre was a way in which the Greeks, especially the Athenians, defined themselves, and as such it deserves to be included in this list.
In both tragedies and comedies, the audience were encouraged to explore the shortcomings of their own society and assumed beliefs, with the story of wealth being blind being a wonderful example of this. Equally, the form of the plays often mirrored their importance to the Greeks, with the chorus providing a similar role for the characters as the playwright did for the audience, that of an instructor. To the ancient Greeks, theatre had far greater significance than it does to us.
Other than Athens, the Spartans are the most well known of the independent Greek city states. There were a large number of these, and they often clashed against each other in war despite their shared language, religion, and games. To me, this unusual co-existence is one of the things which defines who the Greeks were. On the other hand, the self sacrifice of the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae showcases another unusual aspect of the ancient Greeks, which is their willingness to pull together in the face of a common foe, as they did several times against the Persians. The Spartans have become famous for their pragmatic discipline, with their famous words ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ being the epitome of laconic (derived from the name of the Spartan homeland, Laconia). As such, any discussion on who the Greeks were would be remiss to leave out the Spartans, who were in many ways the equals of Athens, and remain just as famous now.
One of the things which defined the Athenians from the other city states and neighbouring countries was the idea of democracy. Sparta and the great rival Persia were both ruled by kings, and so to become a democracy represents something of a significant change. This form of democracy was also rather unusual, since citizens were required to participate (people in the Agora would be driven to the Pnyx by painted rope), and the system allowed for the banishment of an individual based on a regular vote. What is more shocking to us now is that those who couldn't write were often handed shards of pottery with the name of an individual on by a political rival. Despite this, the (male) Athenian citizen had more of an input into the running of the city than we do now, since most issues were voted on directly. As such, the birth of democracy is one of the defining moments of the ancient Greek world, and one which still impacts on us today.
Thanks you for reading, next time I'll be doing the same for the Romans. Please leave a comment, I'd love to know what your 5 objects that represent the Greeks would be.