Friday, February 14, 2014

Apparently Valentine impeded raising an imperial army

On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

History Network

Claudius disposed of the disobedient Valentine, brutally. It's not at all clear anything like this ever happened, but it makes a nice legend for our Valentine's Day.
The Rev. Giles Fraser contributed a contemporary mediation for the day to the Guardian, titled "Love has been privatised, and it cannot be brought back into public ownership."

... Israeli academic Eva Illouz ... argues, that slippery word 'love' has become a nest of personal fretfulness because it has lost its social bearings. ... fewer people are trapped in unhappy marriages, but more people are left to shoulder the successes and failures of their own love life, being thus obliged to look deeper into themselves and their own personal psychology for whatever romantic failures they encounter. This has become, Illouz argues, a modern form of self-torture. When things don't work out, or one is alone, or one doesn't have a date for the big night, it becomes a personal failing, a matter of individual responsibility. ...

... Love requires a broader social infrastructure than the one provided by individual feelings. In other words, when it comes to understanding love, we need less psychology and more sociology. I guess this is why some still argue for the success of arranged marriages. After all, the success rate of love matches is hardly anything to write home about.

But here's the thing. Though I nod along to all this intellectually, I don't really believe a word of it emotionally. I'm not sure there is any way of taking love back into public ownership. Privatisation has been too successful. Yes, when we turn love into some sort of deregulated market then the failures of our romantic attachments inevitably point back to some personal failure within me – just like financial success.

Even as we send each other hearts and chocolates, 'love' remains a political matter, as it was in Valentine's era.

H/t the Lead for the Fraser article.


Hattie said...

What a wonderful meditation on this holiday. Thank you. said...

I really loved this post, Jan!!!

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