"All roads lead to Rome" is an English idiom that means that different methods of doing something will eventually lead to the same result. This phrase takes its origins from the intricate system of roads built by the ancient Romans. Since roads from every province were situated so that they eventually led back to Rome, all paths essentially led to the same destination. As such, the phrase means that something is set up so that disparate means will eventually achieve the same goal.
An idiom is a phrase that draws its literal meaning from some real situation but has since come to mean something that is often quite different than what it once did. This occurs when it is commonly used to such an extent in a culture that the new meaning eventually overtakes the old one. Idioms add spice and color to everyday speech, giving speakers opportunities to add a little flavor to dull details. One such idiomatic expression that has been in use since the 11th century is the phrase "all roads lead to Rome."
It is difficult to get an understanding of this phrase without first realizing the history behind it. The Roman Empire, which controlled significant portions of the ancient world for hundreds of years, pioneered many significant achievements including an intricate set of roads. These roads were set up so that all of the provinces that ultimately were subservient to the Empire could be linked directly to the city.
In this way, the Romans had a convenient way of connecting with these provinces and also could keep them under close watch. As such, the phrase was not much of an exaggeration at the Empire's apex. This unique system of roads had such an effect that its ingenuity inspired the phrase that still persists to this day. Obviously, "all roads lead to Rome" has now taken on a figurative meaning to fit the times.
Just as all roads led to the capital of the Roman Empire, so too are there occasions in modern life when all methods of doing something will lead to the same result. As an example, consider the sentence, "I don't care if you save the file and then send it to me or copy it and print it out; all roads lead to Rome." This sentence is saying that the person will get what he requires no matter which way the person being addressed chooses to give it to him.