The story of the Persian messengers who demanded earth and water from the Spartans is well known. To the Persians, this request for earth and water was a sign of submission and obedience, a request the Spartans strongly refused. They were thrown into a well by the Spartans, and told that they would find both of each down there. However, the sequel to the story is lesser known.
The Spartans later regretted this incident so greatly, for it was undeniably an immoral act, that they sent two citizens to Persia, who volunteered to be killed by them in order to erase the Spartans’ guilt from their own crime.
Once, while contesting with each other for the hegemony of Greece, the Spartans and Athenians had a dispute. Unable to resolve it on their own, it was suggested by the Athenians that Megara serve as a neutral arbiter. Agesipolis, son of Pausanias, said to the Athenians that it would be a shame if Megara knew more of justice than Sparta and Athens, who led the Greek world.
In Ancient Persia, before someone could be put to death for a crime, a tally was made of their good and evil deeds. Only if their evil deeds outweighed the sum of their good deeds could they be put to death. If they had done more good than ill, however, they were allowed to remain alive.