Let no man seek
Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall
Him or his children.
This epigraph, From Milton's Paradise Lost XI, 770-72, appears on the title page for each of the three volumes of The Last Man. As Fiona Stafford points out, the lines invoke Adam's sad foreknowledge of the future Deluge that will destroy his descendants, indeed, nearly destroy the entire race. In context, then, the lines follow a "powerful and intensely human response to the Flood" that "overturns the reader's expectations, transforming the familiar biblical story into a shocking personal tragedy" (Stafford, 15).