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Table of Contents
LINES 556-898. NOAH AND THE FLOOD
Michael shows to Adam the sons of Cain corrupted by "fair atheists," prompting a bitter response from Adam: men's troubles always begin with women. Michael immediately rebukes him: you can't blame women-blame your own "effeminate slackness." Man has superior gifts and should use them.
Things get worse as the children of those "ill-fated marriages" first fight among themselves and then give themselves up to riotous self-indulgence. Only one man, Noah, tries to stop them. He doesn't get anywhere, so he moves away and then builds an ark. He knows what God is going to do.
Adam is in despair again as he sees the entire earth swallowed up in the flood, with only Noah and the creatures in his ark saved. He tells Michael that he isn't enjoying seeing what is to come: no one should see what will happen to his "seed," his descendants, because he can't do anything to change it and can only suffer.
But it gives Michael a chance to praise Noah, and this gives Milton a chance to talk about himself. As you will remember from the invocation to Book VII, Milton felt himself the only defender of truth left when the Royalists returned. He was
the only son of light In a dark age, against example good Against allurement, custom, and a world Offended...
Like Noah, he dares to stand up for what is right when everyone else is wrong.
As Michael tells the rest of the story of Noah and the ark, he shows that the Mount of Paradise will be moved by the force of the water from Mesopotamia down through the Persian Gulf to become an island. By including this detail, Milton was able to do justice to two traditions-one which said Paradise was between the Tigris and the Euphrates, and one which said it was one of the South seas islands.
Adam is relieved to see that mankind gets a sign from God, the rainbow, as a pledge that he won't drown the world again.