Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Valentine by Jaimeson Wolf

“According to legend, as early as the fourth century B.C., the Romans engaged in an annual young man’s rite to passage to the god Lupercus. The names of the teenage women were placed in a box and drawn at random by adolescent men; thus, a man was assigned a woman companion for the duration of the year, after which another lottery was staged.

After eight hundred years of this, the early church fathers sought to end this practice and promote monogamy. They found an answer in Valentine, a bishop who had been martyred some two hundred years earlier. According to church tradition, St. Valentine was a priest near Rome in about the year 270 A.D. At that time, the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, had issued an edict forbidding marriage. This was around when the heyday of Roman Empire had almost come to an end.

When Claudius became the emperor, he discerned that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, would not make good soldiers. So to assure quality soldiers, he banned marriage.

Valentine, a bishop who witnessed the trauma of young lovers, met them in a secret place and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. Claudius learned of this “friend of lovers,” and had him arrested.”

Emperor Claudius II allowed us a rare audience, which we took full advantage of.

TBC: Emperor, how is it you came to be known as Claudius the Cruel?

CLAUDIUS: Is that what they call me? Claudius the Cruel? Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I should think that the origion is obvious, however. In order to sieze power, you have to be merciless. So what if I started a few wars that resulted in immense bloodshed. Those wars put Rome ahead of the rest of the world.

TBC: Do you believe that the bloody campaigns you have waged are the reason men hesitate to join your military leagues?

CLAUDIUS: Not at all. I believe they hesitate because they are weak! They do not want to leave their families, their precious wives and children. It has nothing to do with my previous campaigns which, while bloody, were nothing short of glorious.

TBC: Can you tell us, Emperor, why you have banned marriage in Rome?

CLAUDIUS: Haven’t I just told you? Because men are weak! When they’re married or about to get married, they aren’t thinking clearly. The only way to get men to join my military campaigns was to ban all marriages and engagements in Rome. Then the men would not hesitate to join, would not hesitate to leave the person who was no longer their wife. Good idea don’t you think?

TBC: Do you truly feel that this will increase your ranks?

CLAUDIUS: Of course it will! Haven’t you been listening? Or have I been talking to myself? If they do not have wives, they will leave and come to me. It’s so simple, I wonder why I did not think of it before.

TBC: Who is this Valentine fellow? How long have you known him?

CLAUDIUS: He is a thorn in my side, nothing more. A cleric that has decided to meddle in affairs of state and risk his life. He marries people against my decrees! That is unforgivable.

TBC: You have charged him with treason, have you not? What has he done to warrant such a charge?

CLAUDIUS: Have you not been listening? He marries others against my wishes! You disobey me, it is treason. He defies me and continues to get away with marrying others! This is unacceptable!

TBC: At the time that Valentine was sentenced to die, did you know that he was carrying on an affair with your guard, Asterius?

CLAUDIUS: Yes. Yes, I did know this. This displeases me greatly. I had marked Asterius as mine. No matter, this does not change, even if his heart belongs to another. I will have him back, mark my words.

TBC: Does this not prove that dedication to one’s lover is not a barrier that prevents men from serving in your ranks? Has Asterius not served you well?

CLAUDIUS: Who are you to question me? Asterius has indeed served me very well, but that has nothing to do with my decree. They are afraid to fight because their hearts love too much. Without that bond to another, they will fight to the death. It is quite simple, really.

TBC: What did you do when you heard of Valentine’s escape?

CLAUDIUS: What did I do?! I killed twenty men to ease my rage. The fact that he got away angers me beyond anything I have ever felt before. He should have died by my hand, yet he walks? Unacceptable.

TBC: Will you pursue Valentine and his lover?

CLAUDIUS: Yes, I will. They think they are safe from me, but I will find them. Valentine is mine, you mark my words.

TBC: We thank you for this opportunity Emperor. Now, we shall take our leave.

CLAUDIUS: You are most welcome. And remember that my word is law and you will live. Good day to you.

Find Jaimeson Wolf on the web at http://jamiesonwolf.tripod.com/index.html


Betty Jo said...

A very provocative review, TBC.

Jamieson's book sounds quite fascinating!

Betty Jo Tucker

Margaret Fieland said...

I'm not especially knowledgeable about Roman history, but I do remember reading (years ago now) Robert Graves "I, Claudius," which paints, it seems, a far more sympathetic picture of Claudius than Jamieson does.