The "Lead" chapter of The Periodic Tableappears to be a parable about greed and exploitation. From the start, the speaker tells us that his country is called "Thiuda" but that the neighboring peoples, who "are all our enemies," call them by different names, including Saksa, Nemet, and Alaman.
The "Lead" chapter of The Periodic Table appears to be a parable about greed and exploitation. From the start, the speaker tells us that his country is called "Thiuda" but that the neighboring peoples, who "are all our enemies," call them by different names, including Saksa, Nemet, and Alaman.
Obviously, the speaker's country is, or represents, Germany. The first of these names sounds like "Saxony," which is, in the form Sachsen, what the Germans themselves call one Land or (former) principality of their country. The second sounds like the Russian word for German, and the third, of course, is like the French word for Germany, Allemagne.
Though the narrative evidently is intended to date from a prehistoric time, the way the speaker describes himself seems to relate to modern Germany's actions, though in a heavily symbolic way. He tells us his name is Rodmund, which in German means (with a slight change in spelling but the same pronunciation) "Red mouth." His people, he says, don't like to cultivate the land for crops, and they overrun those others' lands which are cultivated. Instead, they are shepherds, hunters, and warriors.
Rodmund himself is, however, a miner and metallurgist, specializing in lead. Because the veins from which this metal is extracted have been used up in his own country, Rodmund journeys south to other countries to find new deposits in the earth. Eventually, after long travels, he reaches a distant land, an island, where he buys slaves to extract the metal for him, though by this time, he appears to be deteriorating physically, with, among other problems, his "gums turning blue," like those of some legendary ancestor of the Rodmunds who "came from the sea."
It's not difficult to see this as an allegory of cruelty, exploitation, and theft, but in the guise of primitive science involving the mining and smelting of valuable metal. It appears to be a parable not only specifically of Germany's twentieth-century actions in the Holocaust but those of humanity in general, with people grabbing resources from others and mistreating them. Rodmund may be an imagined figure from prehistory, but he is also a prototype of man's continued tendency towards unfairness and cruelty towards his brothers.