When we think of the word itself, "gruesome"
However, go back earlier to the Roman Empire, there is a blatant shift from the mere celebration of the might of Rome, around 37AD, when its prowess in war and conquering continents shifts to the glorification of the grotesque and gory. The style of these statues found at Sperlonga, is called Hellenistic Baroque.
The theme of the art moves toward bloodlust. The deviant Emperor at the helm was Augustus Germanus, or "Caligula" but later perfected by the gloomiest Emperor, Tiberius Claudius Nero.??check dates and specifics...
A plethora of macabre marble statues can be found that depict the grotesque, the gruesome, the macabre, that depict torture, executions, cruelty in mythic proportions from the Blinding of Polythemus, to the Red Marsayas.
The fact that this violet-veined "pavonazzetto" marble Hanging Marsayas was discovered in the garden in 1874 is very telling that the owner of it could derive calm tranquility from the gazing upon of the grotesque and the gory flaying of the satyr carved from a marble that is realistic blood and guts colouring like real human flesh, as if the veining of actual flesh is visible from beneath the marble's surface. Uncanny, truly.
PHOTO: Statue "The Flaying of Marsyas" by schizoform (Source: Flickr.com)
Information about this Red Marsyas is excepted from the BBC documentary television show "Treasures of Ancient Rome" presented and written by Alastair Sooke, the episode entitled POMP & PERVERSION.