Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. Like Sulla, Marius exploited the favouritism of the plebeian mob, particularly the urban poor, to further his own vain glorious political ambition, promising land reform, citizenship reform and debt relief for the poor, which he couldn’t hope to realistically achieve. Both men despite their aristocratic status modelled themselves as 'populares', demagogues for the cause of the plebian mob, in opposition to Rome’s traditional elite, the Optimates and the Senate. Both men took it in turns to seize power in a series violent coups which saw thousands of Roman’s killed in brutal and bloody street fighting and horrific Stalinesque ‘proscription’ trials.
Neither man, despite acquiring fantastic wealth seized from citizens murdered in their vengeful reprisals, enacted on their promises, but instead set about consolidating their own power, weakening the power of the senate and scheming against each other. The social wars led to the final collapse of the Roman Republic and the implementation of the subtle tyranny of the age of Emperors by Gaius Octavius, Augustus.
It is likely that the noses of both these sculptures were broken off deliberately in antiquity, following their deaths.