I would like to translate the following part of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Law of the Jungle’:

‘The strength of the wolf is the pack’

I know that google translate would not be appropriate, so would be very grateful for a translation which at least captures the sentiment of this quote. The purpose of the translation is for a tribute to my dog (male).

Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1


A straightforward literal translation would be Vīs lupī est grex.

  • vīs means 'power' and a bunch of other things related to it.

  • lupī is the genitive singular of lupus 'wolf'. Like English, Latin can use the singular to indicate the generic (cf. the famous proverb Homo homini lupus).

  • est is the copula. It can be omitted at the expense of making things a little harder to parse; if I were translating the full line ("For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack") I probably would. You could also move it to the end of the sentence: Latin is an SOV language, though copular sentences are often exceptions to this.

  • grex is typically glossed as 'herd' by especially terse dictionaries, but it's actually used for any group of animals. I'm not aware of any more specific terms for wolves or canines or pack hunters in general.

The thing about copular sentences like this is that it's often ambiguous or fully indeterminate which is the subject and which the predicate, but in this case I do think "the pack" is the subject, so you may want to change the word order to reflect that as well: Grex vīs lupī. It's definitely not obligatory, though.

(As always, you can omit the macrons if you don't like them; they're never mandatory in Latin.)

  • I think it would be very hard, without more context, not to read this as: "The strength of the wolf is the flock [of sheep it eats]." I did a proximity search of grex and lupus and each time the grex was what was being preyed upon by the wolf.
    – brianpck
    Sep 25, 2023 at 15:50
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    I agree that grex seems inappropriate, like saying "a herd of wolves" in English. Instead I would suggest agmen, used for Actaeon's hounds by Ovid (Metamorphoses 3, 242). Sep 25, 2023 at 22:07
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    @SebastianKoppehel Oh, that's a good find. I saw that he used turba earlier and rejected that as having undesirable baggage, but then I didn't keep looking.
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 27, 2023 at 19:04
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    I do think reading grex as 'herd' is just interference from English translation dictionaries, though, and while I acknowledge @brianpck's point I think that says more about the nature of people's concerns about wolves than about the appropriateness of grex itself; it was a very broad term.
    – Cairnarvon
    Sep 27, 2023 at 19:07
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    @SebastianKoppehel That deserves an answer in itself.
    – cmw
    Sep 28, 2023 at 15:11

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