Little is known about Valentine, whose name symbolizes romantic love. Chet Raymo draws on the tradition that Valentine was a physician in love with the blind Julia to thread his way through the fabric of romance while illuminating the world of the Roman Empire of Claudius II—a time when Christian deaths provided public entertainment. The ideas in Valentine are startlingly relevant to our own times: globalization vs. fundamentalism, reason vs. superstition, the subversion of virtue by wealth—and the power of passionate love to overcome all obstacles to its consummation.
Chet Raymo is professor emeritus of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. He is teacher, naturalist, and former science columnist for the Boston Globe.