• Arthur Golding;
  • cultural assimilation;
  • religious culture

This article argues for a new interpretation of the prefatory poems Golding wrote for his published translations of Ovid's Metamorphoses. These prefaces are thoroughly enmeshed both in Golding's own intellectual project of mitigating Ovid's pagan culture and in the wider cultural debates about contact with non-Christians. This debate often had recourse to the circumstances of early Christians and their proximity to the gentiles and their religious practices. Specifically, the language of eating and digestion was frequently deployed in the early Christian world to suggest the necessity of confronting and processing foreign cultures. Golding's prefaces approach this intellectual legacy through sustained language of food, digestion, and stomachs. For Golding's ideal reader, culture clashes were analogous to eating a variety of foods, requiring strong stomachs. Galenic conceptions of an active, powerful stomach also helped Golding formulate his ideas about cross-cultural exchange. And as I argue in the last part of the article, Golding's interpretive strategy was not unique, but rather was commonplace in Protestant polemic in the 1560s and '70s.