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πύξ, λάξ, δάξ "by punching, kicking, and biting" is described by Wikipedia as an "epigram describing how laypersons were chased away from the Eleusinian Mysteries". Where is this phrase attested?

δάξ is a rare word. LSJ gives only one attestation, in a Greco-Roman didactic poem on fishing, which in this case turns out to be a red herring (sorry). DGE lists a handful of other references, most of which I can't track down online. (I can't currently access the complete TLG from home, so haven't searched there.) So what is the source of πύξ, λάξ, δάξ?

  • ARCADIUS Gramm. De accentibus [Sp.] {2116.001} Page 206 line 10 Πᾶν δὲ μονοσύλλαβον ἐπίῤῥημα ὀξύνεται· ἄψ μάψ, δάξ (παρὰ τὸ δήκω, ὅπερ καὶ ὀδάξ λέγεται) λάξ πύξ (10) μίξ καὶ ἀπρίξ, χθές δίς τρίς, πρίν, μύ (τὸ – Alex B. Jun 24 at 22:39
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    Searching for "πύξ, λάξ, δάξ" I found a site which apparently preserves a former edit of Wikipedia, in which πύξ is connected to πυγμή, λάξ to λάκτισμα, and δάξ to δαγκωματια (enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/147686) - citation missing, and I can't find the last word. Also, it would make sense having a word meaning 'bite' in a text about fishing. – Jasper May Jun 25 at 15:55
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    @Jasper Basically... but δαγκωματιά is aggressively modern Greek, whereas you'd probably be looking for δῆγμα. – Cosmas Zachos Jun 25 at 16:11
  • fyi: I hope it's clear that I copied and pasted an example containing δάξ from TLG. I didn't mean to offer a possible source of the phrase. – Alex B. Jun 25 at 16:21
  • @CosmasZachos Ok thanks. I could only find that page, and I have minimal ancient or modern Greek. – Jasper May Jun 25 at 18:42
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I often found also the version πύξ λάξ δοντάξ, which seems a modernization. I also thought to have found the version πύξ λάξ ὀδὰξ, but later wasn't able to find anything else than entries regarding the common word formation of this terms, this could be a likely way the last term was introduced if it is spurious.

πύξ λάξ seems to be a common frase in modern greek (even if we leave out the band, the two terms aren't used outside of this frase). The two terms are unsurprisingly often used together in ancient greek, but I wasn't able to track their use in the context of Eleusinian mysteries. The frase often appears in lists of frases that consist mainly of the Delphic Maxims, with some additions.

This site had a version with "Ω ΔΑΞ" (probably a mispelling). I link it mostly because it's the oldest dated example I found online and because my german is bad enough and I might have missed some hints.

In an arguably funny way the fist edit to introduce the frase in the german wikipedia article was commented πρῶτον ψεῦδος (it is just the name of the preceding section). Not a real answer, but I hope it could help.

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This is a cut-and-paste answer, but I hope it's of some help.

A Greek proverbs site confirms the Wiki entry " www.gnomikologikon.gr › catquotes "

πύξ, λάξ, δάξ. Επιγραφή που περιέγραφε πώς εκδιώκονται οι άσχετοι από τα Ελευσίνια Μυστήρια.

And two other sites say it comes from Oppian

γνύξ, πύξ, λάξ, Οpp. Η. 4, 60, τgl. Jac. &
Ὀππ. Ἁλ. 4. 60.

I've never read Oppian, and have not yet sourced Η. or Ἁλ.

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    Thanks -- I actually did find these; Oppian Halieutica is the poem on fishing I referred to in the OP, which contains the word ὀδάξ but not the phrase πύξ, λάξ, δάξ. – TKR Jun 25 at 23:26
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    The thing is that the actual line in Oppian's Halieutica is "αὐτὰρ ὀδὰξ μὲν ἔρεισεν, ὁ δ᾿ ἔσπασεν ἄϊδος ἔξω" (Loeb ed.) loebclassics.com/view/LCL219/1928/volume.xml – Alex B. Jun 25 at 23:27

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