In former times people depended much more than nowadays on a well-stocked memory, or at least one differently stocked with little reference to printed materials. Few could read, fewer still had many books, and pens and paper were expensive. So it was, for instance, that names of rulers were associated with tags and epithets which immediately summoned up qualities or events which located them in the history of their countries. In the United States we have a few ekenames like The Father of His Country, Honest Abe and The Great Communicator, but of these only the first and second seem to have settled in, although neither is much used. The Great Communicator is more of a movable epithet than anything else, has been applied to others before, and undoubtedly will be applied to others later.
"Three Little Sacks,"
Word Ways: Vol. 16
, Article 13.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol16/iss3/13