As court musicians and specialists of the past, the Arókin of Òyó have been used as a source for Yorùbâ history, but their own views on the uses of historical information have not been investigated. For the first time a sample of these views is published here. It comes from an interview with a group of Arókin, in which they offered descriptions and other representations of the nature of their expertise. This evidence sheds light on how the Arókin have traditionally deployed historical precedent and accounted for historical innovation. They ground the resort to the past primarily on the social need to offer consolation (itùnû) to the ruler, i.e., to cool down his personal grief. It is from this that they derive the need to relate and assimilate events, so as to explain the meaning (itumòo) of present happenings. They emphasize, above the supplying of etiology and legitimation, the restoration of equanimity against grief and anger.
Arókin tradition compares the overwhelming power of song to the overwhelming power of grief. It stresses raw personal emotion as a cultural force, both as a source of disruption and as a trigger for efforts to make sense of the world with the help of the past, or with the help of newly-imported frames of explanation. The management of the king's (but also, in exceptional circumstances, of the people's) emotions requires history, and may require religious innovation. The king's grief at the loss of his children is liable to have violent, and culturally far-reaching, consequences. Despite obvious differences, this has significant points of contact with Rosaldo's account of the rage of the bereaved and “the cultural force of emotions” in connection with the Ilongot of northern Luzon, in the Philippines.