The book Leviathan, set on the brink of WWI, contains an “allegorical map” displaying the political climate in Europe at the time. (click for bigger)
“Germany is a massive military machine with weapons aimed outwards to all surrounding countries. It points threateningly at Britain, not so much as a sign of direct aggression, but more as an indicator that it was now Germany’s turn to start a grand global Empire to challenge the world’s current one.
Britain is an militaristic lion beast with a Roman Imperial italic-type helmet. It sits upon a mound of riches gathered from its Empire. France’s elephant beast is influenced by the Elephantine Collossus built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 in Paris. It represents France’s huge significance in WWI, which is something that tends to get a little glossed over. Russia is a huge imperialist bear, rotting from the inside, a prelude to its collapse during the war. It faces Germany, ready to defend itself.
Austria/Hungary is an aggressive armoured giant, teetering on shoddy foundations. It is also the primary aggressor in a land grab against Serbia, with two bayonets piercing the border. The Ottoman Empire is a teetering automaton, collapsing under the weight of a paranoid and ungainly spying network that gazes at Europe through many lenses and spy glasses. The Swiss watch ticks away the time, comfortable to wait it all out.
Serbia’s imagery is an indicator of the huge amounts of civilian deaths and suffering they find themselves subjected to. Norway and Sweden are both Scandinavian trolls in the style of John Bauer, watching events unfold. Portugal is a parrot for the Entente trying to goad a slumbering Spain into the war. Ireland looks askance to Britain and brandishes a shillelagh. An indicator of their very rough relationship at the time, and of their upcoming involvement with the Central powers. Italy is a clutch of snakes with intents on the Central powers despite existing agreements.”