Many consider Origen of Alexandria (185–254) to be the most important and influential Christian theologian of the ancient church. The indispensable source of information about his life and works is Eusebius (d. 340), Historia Ecclesiastica (HE), book 6. Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea, originally wrote in Greek, but his book was well known in the west as well thanks to Rufinus of Aquileia’s (345–411) Latin translation of it. Thus Origen has always been well known to educated Christians of the east and west. Origen was born the eldest of seven children to Christian parents, apparently in Alexandria, Egypt. He received a thorough education in scripture and Greek literature from his father Leonides who in 202 suffered martyrdom by beheading after being imprisoned during a persecution that took place under the Emperor Septimus Severus (193–211). Thus he was the son of a saint and a martyr. Eusebius reports that the teenage Origen was zealous for martyrdom himself, even sending a letter to his imprisoned father exhorting him not to shrink back for the sake of his family from offering the supreme witness of the faith. Origen later preached: ‘If God would consent to let me be washed in my blood, receiving a second baptism by accepting death for Christ, I would surely go from this world... But blessed are they who merit these things’ (Homily 7.2 on Judges). A treatise by Origen on this subject survives, the Exhortation to Martyrdom, in which he exhorts persecuted Christians to remain steadfast in order to obtain their eternal reward and be united with God. Only those can be saved who confess their faith. Origen’s enthusiasm for martyrdom is reminiscent of the outpourings of Ignatius of Antioch, with whose writings he was familiar.