This marble portrait was made prior to Rome becoming an empire. Before, Rome was a Republic with several elected officals. Romans invented the bust as a means to display the a loved one who has passed in the family home. Before this, they would make wax masks of the dead and have someone wear it during the funerary proceedings. (It's probably for the best they got rid of that tradition.) This bust is also an example of veristic portraiture, where meticulous attention is paid to depicting people exactly as they are,with every wrinkle and flaw. Romans preferred this type of portrait during its era as a republic. Bearing the scars of life signaled virtures of dignity, toughness, and wisdom.