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Last Updated on October 28, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 481

This fifteenth-century Spanish tale tells of the doomed romance between Calisto and Melibea. Calisto lusts after Melibea when he chances upon her in her garden. For her part, Melibea is deeply suspicious of Calisto's intentions and will have nothing to do with him, and Calisto has little choice but to return home. There, a trusted servant named Sempronio advises him to seek the services of Celestina, a brothel owner. Sempronio is deeply in love with Elicia, one of Celestina's servant girls.

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In a betrayal of his employer, Sempronio decides to work with Celestina to get as much gold as possible from Calisto. Meanwhile, Parmeno (another of Calisto's servants) warns Calisto against trusting the evil and untrustworthy Celestina. He advises Calisto to seek Melibea's hand honorably rather than to rely on the notorious madam. The lovesick Calisto refuses to listen and seeks out Celestina anyway. Knowing that Parmeno is against her, Celestina decides to bribe him. She tells him that he can have Areusa (another of her servants), and since Parmeno is already in love with Areusa, he gives in to Celestina. Now, Sempronio and Parmeno are both working with Celestina to cheat their master out of as much gold as they can.

Celestina makes her way to Melibea's home as a vendor of feminine products. She worms her way into the confidence of Melibea's mother, Alisa. Eventually, Alisa leaves Celestina alone with Melibea. The madam immediately engages in a series of manipulations to wear Melibea down. Celestina tells Melibea that Calisto is sick and must have her sacred girdle and a copy of Saint Polonia's prayer in order to heal. Bewildered by what she is hearing, Melibea agrees. Celestina returns the next day to pick up the items, and Melibea agrees to meet with Calisto. The two begin a love affair. Meanwhile, Sempronio and Parmeno engage in sexual liaisons with Elicia and Areusa respectively. After Calisto begins to bed Melibea regularly, both Sempronio and Parmeno decide it's time to get their agreed-upon portion of gold from Celestina, but she refuses to hand over the men's share of Calisto's gold.

The men kill Celestina in anger, but Elicia witnesses their treachery. The authorities catch Sempronio and Parmeno in the act of fleeing and they are beheaded. Both Elicia and Areusa decide to avenge their lovers' deaths. They team up with Sosia (another of Calisto's servants) and Centurio (a ne'er-do-well) to create a distraction while Calisto is engaged in one of his romantic trysts with Melibea.

Centurio's friends and Sosia make such a racket that Calisto's attention is drawn to the noise. He climbs a ladder to determine the source of the commotion outside Melibea's home; in doing so, Calisto loses his balance and falls to his death. After realizing that her lover is dead, Melibea confesses her affair to her parents and leaps to her death from the roof of her home.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1263

One day, while pursuing his stray falcon, Calisto enters a strange garden where he sees and falls in love with a beautiful young woman named Melibea. His eagerness to take advantage of her gentle innocence shocks her, and she angrily drives him away. Calisto goes home desolate and ready to die; his only comfort is the melancholy tunes he plays on his lute. One of his servants, Sempronio, lets him suffer for a time before he suggests that his master seek the aid of Celestina, a procurer, with whose servant, Elicia, Sempronio is in love. At Calisto’s command, the servant hurries to Celestina’s house to summon the old bawd. He and the procurer agree to work together to cheat lovesick Calisto. The young nobleman has another servant, Pármeno, who once worked in Celestina’s house. He tells his master of the bawd’s evil...

(The entire section contains 1744 words.)

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