"Pape Satan, Pape Satan, Aleppe!"
Plutus in circle 4
Public DomainPlutus in circle 4 - Credit: Gustave Doré

(Canto 7, line 1)

This invocation of Plutus is by most modern commentators regarded as some kind of "devilspeak" devoid of any real meaning: however, many older commentaries tried to explain it in some way and generally arrived at rather similar conclusions concerning the meaning of "Pape": it is similar to the Greek "papai", a word used to convey surprise. "Aleppe" has brought on more fanciful explanations: some say it means "pain", others that it stands for "God". Its similarity to Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, has caused many to interpret it as an interjection of woe, as in Jeremiah 1:6, "Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child."