Taphius was the king of the Taphian islands near the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth, with his son Pterelaüs succeeding him to the throne here. He was the son of Poseidon and Hippothoë, and his name seems to mean 'tomb', from taphos, 'burial', 'tomb', an element seen in the English word 'cenotaph' (which literally means 'empty tomb').

It is not clear to which burial or tomb the name refers, if a specific reference was intended. However, there may be a prophetic reference to Pterelaüs, who was sent to his 'tomb' or death when Comaetho pulled out the single golden hair that kept him alive.