The Civilization which we of to-day enjoy is a very complex thing, made up of many different contributions, some large and some small, from people in many different lands and different ages. To trace all these contributions back to their sources would be a task impossible of accomplishment, and, while specific parts would be interesting, for our purposes they would not be important. Especially would it not be profitable for us to attempt to trace the development of minor features, or to go back to the rudimentary civilizations of primitive peoples. The early development of civilization among the Chinese, the Hindoos, the Persians, the Egyptians, or the American Indians all alike present features which to some form a very interesting study, but our western civilization does not go back to these as sources, and consequently they need not concern us in the study we are about to begin. While we have obtained the alphabet from the Phoenicians and some of our mathematical and scientific developments through the medium of the Mohammedans, the real sources of our present-day civilization lie elsewhere, and these minor sources will be referred to but briefly and only as they influenced the course of western progress.
The civilization which we now know and enjoy has come down to us from four main sources. The Greeks, the Romans, and the Christians laid the foundations, and in the order named, and the study of the early history of our western civilization is a study of the work and the blending of these three main forces. It is upon these three foundation stones, superimposed upon one another, that our modern European and American civilization has been developed.