Etymologically speaking, the word “grotesque"
has to do precisely with such admixtures.
“Grotesque" (la grottesca) was derived from
the Italian grotta (cave) in the late
fifteenth century, and used to describe
an unusual style of ornamentation
found in newly evacuated first-century
Roman structures like the Domus Aurea
(Golden House) of Nero.
Grotesque ornamentation featured plant,
animal, and human forms intertwining
and interwoven fantastically, each form
blending into its neighbouring ones so
that no form was finished or discrete,
and all appeared to be in a