Greek literature is interesting in that it was characterized by a Platonic striving towards the perfect form; as such, it seems to us rather repetitive and formulaic. What many new students of the Greeks do not understand is that the great ancient authors proved themselves unique through a restrictive form, instead of, as many later authors would, through trying to create a new, revolutionary form of their own. This sort of behavior led to phoenomenons like stock-names: terms used to fill the right meter, which were so commonplace as to become synonymous with what they replaced. When one reads Greek poetry well-translated or in the original language, there's an overpowering tendency to repeat central phrases and motifs.
In AARs, much the same can be seen: while there exist truly unique formats, such as the epistolic 'Byzantine Letters', or the unique point-of-view used in 'A Crown of Ice and Snow', for the most part genius must shine through format; either a straightforward report or an elaborate conceit working with the same 84, 401, or 12 years of history each and every time. There is little way to escape this, and so various 'stock phrases' and 'stock ideas' of the AAR community's own have come to arise.
The Big White Blob -- a happy country surrounded whose ultimate job is to separate otherwise natural enemies, the guardian of the oldest passions and an almost willing conquest -- it makes a natural Dionysus. Vicky's British Empire -- a nation whose wrath is to be dreaded, difficult to outwit and nigh-on impossible to outfight, able to rebound from any defeat to crush the indolent and complacent -- is a perfect Ares. Bismarck's Prussia and Germany -- a thing of loath change and bloody wealth, by its nature swallowing smaller and weaker nations by the mouthful, a country with which there are no friendships, merely alliances of necessity -- is the picture of Hades. The United States, who start weak and forge from nothing the greatest nation, in whose shoes there is no victory in overcoming adversity but in fulfulling potential, the ugliest of nations which seduces the greatest players -- who better Hephaestus?
The list goes on. But these are not important. What is important is the king: not the mightiest, for many of the great tales end in the foiling of his ambitions, nor the wisest, as he is often his own greatest enemy, but he in whose hands the world and all above it ultimately rests; where his brothers, children, and the many denizens of his land's myths faltered for want of power, he faltered only for its misuse. It is for this reason that the Greeks gave him the unwontedly poetic moniker
GATHERER OF CLOUDS
A Russian Odyssey