Classics Professor Barbara Gold was interviewed for a United Press International (UPI) feature article about the origins of Valentine's Day.
In the UPI article Gold says love for ancient Romans was interesting, both to live and to write about, because it was painful, like a disease.
"The Roman poets, almost all men, described themselves as 'wounded, wretched, enslaved by their lovers, having their bone marrow on fire and suffering from double vision,'" Gold told UPI. "Love was an affliction, a painful one, and men were enslaved by horrible women."
It's a far cry from the current Valentine's Day sentiment. Gold sent her students from her Poetry and Love and Desire in Ancient Rome class, from Hamilton College, in Clinton, N.Y., to stores to study the messages of Valentines and found the themes of love and completeness and a world of dreamy romantic scenes of couples walking on beaches surrounded by hearts, doves, flowers and rays of sun.
"Romantic love, or mutual love did not exist in ancient Rome, Roman women, often in puberty, would be married in arranged marriages, often with men the age of their fathers and their role was restricted to the home," Gold said. "Women were perceived as scary creatures and often portrayed as witches and it was the man's jobs to control, constrain and keep her in the home."