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Market Mythology: The Forces of a Good Harvest

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Our calendars continue to tell us that we've grown older and more wise, yet we still find ourselves in nostalgia as we encounter conundrums of a time far behind us. Humans are so fragile that we've even identified seven of our more destructive traits. Perhaps you've seen these before: envy, greed, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth, wrath. In the physical world, new obstacles are overcome everyday by mankind; yet, even with a playbook studied, practiced, and executed ad-nauseum we still find ourselves struggling to defeat an enemy we know everything about. Whether it be one of the seven deadly sins or something entirely different, the result seems to be the same—war with one's self.

Often on this blog, you will see our writers pull from the fanatical, or mythological in order to better illustrate reality. Albeit, disregarding how counter intuitive it may seem on the surface, Allegedly Blog has consistently managed to do so. This piece shall be no different. First, a brief summary of the myth of Demeter and Persephone, followed by a short illustration detailing how certain market mechanisms in the space of agriculture is comparable to the dynamics seen between characters in the myth. As I said before, I find these narratives to be sufficient tools to better understand the nature of the market. With that being said, let us turn our attention away from the existential dread, away from the introductions, and get down to business.

The Myth

Daughter of Greek Gods Zeus and Demeter is a beauty by the name of Persephone. Persephone is in essence, Earth's lifeforce; additionally, she is the most precious thing to Demeter, the Goddess of Earth. The story suggests that Demeter is always in her happiest state while in the presence of her dearly beloved daughter. Demeter's warmth and comfort spreads throughout the world, however, as we all know, the seasons change—and a blistering cold is on its way. Enter Hades, God of the Underworld and brother to Persephone’s father, Zeus. Hades caught wind of his brother’s new child and well, being the utterly deranged individual that he is, he sucked his chapped lips and said, "Imma sleep with her". Shockingly, even Gods can be greedy glib-ego maniacs who stop at nothing to get what they want....just so shocking. so, so, so, so shocking. Too bad Hades isn't above greed. Wait, or would it be lust? hmmm, lets just call him a walking bag of flaming garbage and call it a day.

Hey, don’t tell me you expected this guy to have standards?

Hades abducted poor Persephone from the intense love of her mother’s embrace and dragged her into the abyss. Listen up friends, if you want to experience something worse than Hell, it’s getting between a loving mother and her child. What follows is a Goddess of Earth overcome with grief as she searches far and wide for her daughter to no avail. The Earth rapidly dies as the source of infinite light now flickers. Like clockwork, famine spreads throughout the world taking the image of land filled with crops, life, and energy along with it. Zeus, appalled by what has transpired in his domain looks to Hades as the person responsible, which, is without a doubt a fact. He demands that Persephone be returned to her mother in order to save the Earth from impending ruin. Hades agrees, but little do Demeter and Zeus know, Hades has already fed Persephone the curse of the pomegranate seed, AKA food of the dead. Suddenly, all parties unaware of the scheme now understand the tragic reality Persephone must face. From this day onward, Persephone must spend the first half of the new year with Demeter, while the other half is spent with Hades. As you can clearly see, these seven deadly sins are not exclusive to mankind.

Someone get the God version of Dr. Phil on the phone to solve this mess

We are all too familiar in this day and age with the idea of split parenthood, but splitting time between your husband” and mother is something out of Game of Thrones. In Greek mythology, this return of Persephone to Demeter is interpreted as a resurrection of life/energy symbolizing the return of the comforting Spring season.

I will now impersonate an Economics 101 Professor

I believe the four characters in this brief story are comparable to that of surface level elements of the agricultural market. I will not sit here and assert that Zeus is symbolic of push-pull demand, or that Demeter is actually inflation with breasts. None of that. However, these dynamics each character exhibit amongst one another in some way, shape, and/or form does describe these surface level mechanics of the agricultural market as well as its importance for society.

Demeter—The Farmer:

Indeed, if I was to associate any comparison whatsoever between this myth and agricultural economics, I better have a great place to start. Well, a little known fact about Demeter is that her domain is not simply land, but actually agriculture itself. The supply of all crops is quite literally dependent on whether Demeter is happy or not. This situation is no different from a farmer quitting or proceeding with his duties as a result of his pay. Demeter will absolve herself of all responsibilities given that she finds there to be no reward—so too will the farmer.

Persephone—The Need:

From a narrative perspective, it would seems as though Persephone is at the center of all this fuss. Further, what is Persephone? At first I thought Persephone was comparable to the crop. Then I decided she more closely resembled the good, but even this felt insufficient. It wasn't until I truly understood that Persephone was a building block of life itself that I settled on my conclusion. All life has needs. All characters in this equation: Demeter, Zeus, Hades, Farmers, Consumers, Governments, they all need Persephone in order to sustain themselves. Demeter refuses to abide by her obligations without her daughter; the farmer quits his job without the proper income to participate in society; Hades obsession with Persephone will drive him to death, a narrative so powerful that even the great Shakespeare paints plots with it; Consumers...hell, even Santa will kill for some cookies if he has to; Zeus and the Government understand from their towers just how fragile their domains/borders are given that their systems lack the necessary building blocks to sustain itself. Make no mistake, all life is subservient to their own self-interest.

Hades—The Consumer:

To be brief, although Hades played a similar role to Demeter in the sense that he himself was also subservient to his own self-interest, although Demeter was literally in charge of keeping Earth alive. Hades, like the consumer is not concerned with such matters. In fact, similar to the consumer, Hades brokers deals in order to get what he wants. Were it not for Zeus/government's authority, Hades would continue to satisfy his needs void of cost. If I may add, even pop culture films today like that of "Hercules" portrays Hades as a business, used car salesman at best. Consumers want the best bang for their buck, and would happily spend nothing if given the power to do so.

Zeus—The Government:

Last but not least we have those that oversee all. Would you agree with me if I claimed, the government (at least of America) plays no role in actually farming the crops needed to feed its population? Would you agree with me if I claimed, Zeus's showed little empathy for Persephone's well-being? Comment below if you think these were crazy suggestions, but for the sake of the piece lets assume you do. What is the only reason Demeter even ended up with SIX months of time with her daughter per year? Oh yeah, it's because she was literally causing mass famine and decay across the world, which, is essentially the same reality our government faces if they don't make damn sure that our country's farmers are happy. In other words, the future of the domain/nation was at risk, and the only way to mitigate that risk was to satisfy one party, and bring down the gavel onto another.

Thanks for reading!

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