The Roman Period affords us one of the most documented and detailed histories of an ancient civilization. Yet, since Edward Gibbon, its decline and fall remains hotly debated. However, over the past couple of decades we have complemented the written evidence with a wealth of climate and disease research. The result is a striking new view and one with echoes for our time. Climate change was foundational to Rome’s rise and instrumental in its subsequent fall, combined with attendant pandemics falling on a weakened population. In the wake of Covid-19 and rapid climate shocks, what warnings does this history hold for us? In this Christmas special, we welcome Kyle Harper, G.T. and Libby Blankenship, Chair in the History of Liberty; Professor of Classics and Letters at The University of Oklahoma and author of The Fate of Rome: climate, disease and the end of an empire.