The terms of the Nicene creed and appended anathema were not altogether familiar vocabulary to numerous Greek bishops. Alexander of Alexandria (accompanied at Nicaea by his young deacon Athanasius who succeeded as bishop in 328), Eustathius bishop of Antioch, and Marcellus of Ankyra were wholehearted supporters, but were therefore likely to be the target of a backlash from bishops who (correctly, as must be conceded) did not see in the creed any defence against their bogey, Sabellianism. That last question engendered decades of controversy. Eustathius and Marcellus both regarded the Nicene formula as insufficient to exclude heresy in that the creed could be accepted by men such as Eusebius of Caesarea. Constantine did not remove their difficulties when, in pursuit of his policy of maximal inclusion, Arius himself signed the creed (probably not the anathema) and Athanasius was asked to receive him back to communion—which was out of the question. In about 334 Arius, living with friends in Libya, submitted an emotional appeal to Constantine for restoration. His old friends, like Eusebius of Nicomedia, had found him an embarrassment and dropped his cause. The emperor answered in a high theatrical style with no encouragement. The Alexandrian presbyter was now hardly even marginal. Nevertheless, Athanasius relates that Arius made his way to Constantinople and, on his way to being readmitted to communion by the then bishop there, died in disgusting circumstances in a public lavatory. Gibbon thought the story left the historian a choice between miracle and poison. Athanasius thought it providential.
In the decade following the council the first prominent anti-Arian to fall was Eustathius of Antioch, an overt critic of Origen's exegesis, who gave vent to sharp criticism of the emperor's mother Helena on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 326-7, during which it was later said that she recovered the True Cross. His exile left behind a small intransigent congregation firm for the Nicene creed and especially the anathema with its 'one hypostasis'. A proposal that Eusebius be translated to Antioch from Caesarea was vetoed