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Table of Contents
LINES 126-208. HOPES AND FEARS
Praying together has made Adam and Eve feel more lovingly toward each other. They hope they can go on with their work in the garden, and they set out for it. But Adam sees unfavorable signs and expresses his fears to Eve.
NOTE: OMENS The unfavorable signs that frighten Adam are an eclipse, an eagle chasing two brightly colored birds, and a beast (possibly a lion) hunting down a female and a male deer. The three together forecast what is to happen. An eclipse is regarded in religions and myths throughout the world as a sign of Heaven's anger-the withdrawal of light is a drastic step because man depends on light for life. In this case, the eclipse makes a dramatic background for the arrival of Michael and his band of angels, who descend in a white cloud from Heaven.
The eagle and the lion are both animals associated with the highest gods- the eagle is "the bird of Jove." Their victims are clearly symbols of Adam and Eve. So the signs mean that God will drive them out of Paradise.
Milton is following classical tradition when he introduces symbolic signs. the Romans were especially fond of looking for indications of the future in the behavior of birds and animals. The superstition survives in our belief that a black cat crossing in front of you brings you bad luck (if you are an American) or good luck (if you are European).