While we were reading Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus I saw a man with a tattoo on his forearm that stated in a gothic lettering “O Man, Fly”. When I saw it I knew where it came from since we had just read the portion of Dr. Faustus that used these lines. Due partially to the fact that someone would value the phrase enough to permanently inscribe it onto their skin I decided to look more into what those words “Homo Fuge” may mean.
I think that the lettering that appears on Faustus’s arm can illustrate two ideas. Firstly, I think that it shows part of Faustus realizing just how much he may be getting himself into. These words first materialize when Faustus is about to finalize the selling of his soul to Mephistopheles and Satan. When Faustus makes this pact he does so rather flippantly, to emphasize this we see him making jokes about Christ’s crucifixion as he is making the pact. However, this message then becomes visible and we see Faustus begin to worry. One can imagine Faustus cool and collected, but then, upon seeing what appears on his arm, his face drops and he begins to question “Whither should I fly?”. Faustus with this moment of fear shows his subconscious fear of the deal he has just made.
Secondly, I think the words can be interpreted as a warning message from God calling Faustus away from that which he is about to enter into. Throughout the play there are figures that represent God like the Old Man, these figures try to reason with Faustus to try and bring him to repentance and back to God. We see Faustus ask “Whither should I fly?” and answer “If unto God, he’ll throw me down to hell” he feels that God is his only escape, but that he is unable to run to God due to his relations with the devil. Yet, we see that Faustus decides not to go to God mainly out of pure defiance for he states “Homo Fuge! Yet shall not Faustus fly.” So, it appears that God might have sent this message to Faustus with hopes of redeeming his soul, but Faustus refuses in the face of temptation.