Luke Ranieri has a series of Latin translations of popular Disney songs, one of which is Be Prepared from The Lion King.

The line "be prepared" is repeatedly rendered as "duce me" in the Latin version.

I am struggling to understand how "duce me" could convey the same meaning as "be prepared." I asked about this in the comments of that video, and Luke responded by stating that duce is the ablative of dux. I still don't understand how this gets us to a meaning similar to "be prepared" in English?

You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-jdNS95Rm0

1 Answer 1


This is an ablative absolute, and literally means "with me as [your] leader". In and of itself, it's not an especially good translation of the slogan "be prepared". But look at it with a bit more context:

Dabitur majestās,
Sovereignty will be granted [to me],
sine fīne potestās.
power without limit.
Meritō pete: jam dabitur!
Seek what you deserve—now it will be granted!
Neque jam petitis timidē
And you are no longer begging timidly
duce mē!
with me as your leader!

Compared to the original English:

[I will] be king undisputed
Respected, saluted
And seen for the wonder I am.
Yes, my teeth and ambitions are bared!
Be prepared!

The overall meaning of the passage, in both cases, is that Scar wants the hyenas to help him in his bid for absolute power. The final line distills this meaning into a catchy three-syllable slogan.

The literal meaning of the slogan may be different in English and Latin, since it needs to fit into three syllables to go with the music. But the overall sense is preserved.

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