many a vs. many

Hello, thanks for viewing this post.

Recently I’ve encountered several sentences similar to this: “His strength had conquered many a great man…”

I grasp the meaning but was a bit confused by its usage, for the two words “many” and “a” seem to contradict each other.

Could anyone so kind as to explain it to me?

many a + *
is an old-fashioned term. It is often used in literature and poetry but has a quaint, archaic ring to it.
It simply means ‘many’.

His strength had conquered many a great man =
Many are the men that his strength has conquered. =
His strength has conquered many men.

It is often seen with ‘time’:
I’ve wished for one of those many a time.
Many’s the time that I’ve wished for one of those.
I’ve often wished for one of those.

Thank you very much.

It is indeed archaic…for I found those sentences from a book at least 100 years old.

But I do like those kind of expressions…do you know any other ones that are quite commonly used in antiquity?

Here you go!
bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A527799

Love the website!

Again, thanks.