Polyphonies was a descendant of Heracles who usurped the throne of Messenia, killed the two elder brothers of Aepytus, the former king, and also his father, Cresphontes, and forced Aepytus' mother Merope to marry him. All this violence can be seen in his name, which means 'murderer of many', from polys, 'many' and phone, 'murder'.

Later, it should be added, Aepytus returned with supporting forces to Messenia and in turn killed Polyphontes and recovered the throne. Another Polyphontes who features in the Iliad was a Theban warrior who was the son of Autophonus. The 'murder' element (phone) is also present here in the names of Cresphontes (which see) and Autophonus (literally 'self-killer', meaning not 'suicide' but 'killing one's own family').