ABSTINENCE (abs teneo, to hold from or off).
Voluntarily refraining, for a moral or religious end, from things which our
nature needs or delights in. Its practice is implied in the supremacy of moral
laws, whenever duty conflicts with inclination. It corresponds to
Ἀπέχῶ in the
precepts of Epictetus, Ἀνέχου και ἀπέχον;
Sustine et abstine.
Abstinence was much
inculcated by ancient moralists, in order to make the soul more independent of
the body. Thus the σωφροσύνη of Socrates, essential to a virtuous life, was a
love of self-control, involving readiness for self-denial (Xenophon's
Memorabilia, IV. 3, 1). The Stoics regarded pleasure as irrational excitement,
and counselled abstinence from it (Diog. Laert, bk. VII., Zeno; Zeller's Stoics,
&c, Reichel, p. 229).— V. ASCETICISM, STOICISM.