The Latin language is popularly imagined in a number of specific ways: as a masculine language, an imperial language, a classical language, a dead language. This book considers the sources of these metaphors and analyses their effect on how Latin literature is read. It argues that these metaphors have become idees fixes not only in the popular imagination but in the formation of Latin studies as a professional discipline. By reading with and more commonly against these metaphors, the book offers a different view of Latin as a language and as a vehicle for cultural practice. The argument ranges over a variety of texts in Latin and texts about Latin produced by many different sorts of writers from antiquity to the twentieth century.