Daughters of Neaera
Acrylic on canvas in custom gold gothic wood frame
In Greek mythology, Phaethusa was a daughter of Helios and Neaera, the personification of the brilliant, blinding rays of the sun. With her sister, Lampetia, she guarded the cattle of Thrinacia. She carried a copper staff with which she tended to her father’s herd of sheep. She is listed as among the Heliades.
The daughters of Neaira, or Neairides (“New Risings”) as they might be named, probably represent the measure of days and nights in the year. The word phaethô was usually associated with the sun while lampetaô “to shine like a lamp” was associated with the moon. Each sister tended 350 animals which were divided into seven herds of fifty–one herd for each of the seven days of the week. Of course the number is 15 days too short, however the ancient Greeks customarily divided the year into twelve lunar months, and added a thirteenth month every couple of years to correct the inevitable slip. The Neairian herds were divided into 50 animals, representing the number of lunar months in a “Great Year,” a four year cycle in which solar and lunar calendars were believed to coincide.