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abstĭnentĭa, ae, f. [abstineo], abstinence, self-restraint (the quality by means of which one abstains from unlawful desires, acts, etc., freedom from covetousness (se ab re abstinet); it always has reference to the outward object from which one restrains himself; while the syn. continentia designates merely subjective self-restraint. Yet as early as Cic. these ideas passed into each other, abstinentia being used for continentia, and continentia—referring to an object—taking the place of abstinentia).
- I. In gen., a refraining from any thing: conciliare benevolentiam multitudinis abstinentiā et continentiā, i. e. by not violating the right of property (alieno abstinent) and by self-control (se continent), Cic. Off. 2, 22: possum multa dicere de provinciali in eo magistratu abstinentiā, id. Sest. 3; id. Verr. 4, 46; id. Q. Rosc. 17; so id. Att. 5, 17; Sall. C. 3.
- II. In later Lat., abstinence from food, fasting, starvation = inedia (v. abstineo): vitam abstinentiā finivit, he ended his life by starvation, Tac. A. 4, 35; Sen. Ep. 70, 9; 77, 9; cf. Cels. 2, 16; febrem quiete et abstinentiā mitigavit, Quint. 2, 17, 9; so Plin. 27, 55, 80 al.