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Nexum/NXIVM? Eerie parallels between Raniere sexslave cult and Ancient Roman slave contracts

On the heels of the arrest of alleged sex slaver, Keith Raniere, in Mexico last month, public interest has spiked into the previously secretive and hidden cult, NXIVM. Reports began surfacing in June last year that the secretive cult, whose secrets have long been kept by alleged threats of blackmail and by threats of legal action, was branding members, coercing female members into sex with Raniere, and committing massive financial crimes. Court records, and the divulsion of non-disclosure agreements suggest that Clare Bronfman, the sex cult’s chief financier, has not only enabled the massive litigation machine to silence victims with lawsuits and prison, but was personally involved and “orchestrated” criminal complaints against victims of the suit.

Sexslaver and NXIVM founder, Keith Raniere

The choice of the cult name itself is mysterious and interesting, and bears some similarity to an ancient Roman “contract.” Keith Raniere might have had his branding and blackmail scheme in mind long before he executed it. The name NXIVM appears to correspond with the ancient Roman concept of “Nexum”.

Nexum was a debt contract in the early Roman Republic. The debtor pledged his person, his actual body, as collateral, should he default on a loan. It was, in effect, a mortgage on a person, not on property.

Nexum was accompanied by a symbolic transfer of rights that involved a set of scales, copper weights, and a prescribed vow. Similar to DOS branding, the nexum contract was entered into with a ceremony with five witnesses. There was also a sixth person – a libripens, a person who held a brass balance.

Under the nexum contract, a free man became a nexus [bond slave] until he could pay off his debt to the obaeratus [creditor.]

(Guru-master Raniere has always taught his Nxians that nothing can repay his teachings).

There was no single nexum contract that all nexi entered. There were variations of the nexum contract, and the details of nexum contracts were worked out on a case-by-case basis.

Nexi were often beaten and abused by their owners.

According to the ancient historian, Livy, nexum was abolished because of the cruelty and lust of a single usurer, Lucius Papirius. In 326 BC, a young boy named Gaius Publilius, who was a guarantor to his father’s debt, became the nexus of Papirius. The boy was noted for his youth and beauty, and Papirius desired him sexually.  He tried to seduce Publilius with “lewd conversation,” but when the boy failed to respond, Papirius grew impatient and reminded the boy of his position as bond slave. When the boy again refused his forceful advances, Papirius had him stripped and lashed. The wounded boy ran into the street, and an outcry among the people led the consuls to convene the Senate, resulting in the Lex Poetelia Papiria, which forbade holding debtors in bondage for their debt and required instead the debtor’s property be used as collateral.

Eventually, all “indebted” people confined under the nexum contract were released, and nexum as a form of legal contract was ultimately forbidden, with the ancient historian Marcus Terentius Varro dating the abolition of nexum to 313 BC.  Poetelius and Livy date the abolition to 326 BC.

From the Roman legal point of view, to the lending of money and an ordinary contract, there seems to have been added a damnatio [damnation] by the lender, similar to the old forms of bequest [LEGATUM]: “a thousand asses” and “the scale of the air” as interest and its measurement.

The debt was termed nexumaes. The making of a contract was known as nexi datio, and the debtor was  nexum inire

The peculiarity of this form of contract was that the creditor did not need to bring a lawsuit to prove the existence of the debt: the debtor had already confessed his slavery and the bondage was ‘called from the air’ and became nexus am. [linked to the nexi]

As soon as the day fixed for repayment passed, the creditor could arrest him, take him before the praetor, and have him, along with the children in his power.

Raniere, self-described as the world’s smartest man, who graduated from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (but concealed from his followers that he graduated with a 2.26 GPA, having barely passed and failed many of the upper level math and science courses) seems to have taken this ancient and abolished practice into the 21st century, and even modeling the “debt contract” off of the cruel ancient Roman, Papirius, who was responsible for its abolition. Like Papirius, Raniere was allegedly obsessed with wth sex, and would use the damaging “collateral” he obtained from his “slaves” (nude pictures, false confessions to crimes and acts of moral turpitude) against his slaves in order to coerce them into sex, and their continued obligations, financial and otherwise, to the cult and to Raniere. When coercion failed and a Nxian wanted to leave, or defect, he or she became effectively, a “fugitive slave.” In its arrest affidavit, the FBI alleges that Raniere’s partner and chief financial backer, Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman, worked with Raniere to “orchestrate” criminal complaints against a former slave who went public and detailed the abuse she endured within the cult.

Sexslavery and human experimentations financier, Clare Bronfman (r), with her legal muscle, Willam F. Savino (l)

An in-depth review of years of Bronfman/Raniere lawsuits and criminal complaints against ex-slaves suggests that the Bronfman/Raniere crime unit was able, with Bronfman’s millions, to turn the courts into oppressive machines to silence, bankrupt, and destroy the cult’s ex-slaves. In this regard, Bronfman used the courts to effectively become instruments of enforcing NXIVM’s own modern twist on the long since abolished fugitive-slave laws.

Keith Raniere is currently in federal custody pending his transfer to the Eastern District of New York, where he faces federal charges of sex trafficking and forced labor. Clare Bronfman’s Ethical Science Foundation was recently under investigation by the NY Attorney General for conducting illegal human experiments – although, sources say, the investigation may have been suspended in deference to DOJ’s pursuit of likely criminal charges for conspiracy, tax crimes and other charges related to human trafficking.

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Artvoice

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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