What's going on here? Is Cicero being fair to Epicurus? Would Epicurus really have suggested an ice cream cone as a remedy for someone whose best friend had just died? I don't think so, and think the answer is found in one of Cicero's other works on Epicurus, "On Ends." In that work, the Epicurean Torquatus says:
"Again, we aver that mental pleasures and pains arise out of bodily ones (and therefore I allow your contention that any Epicureans who think otherwise put themselves out of court; and I am aware that many do, though not those who can speak with authority); but although men do experience mental pleasure that is agreeable and mental pain that is annoying, yet both of these we assert arise out of and are based upon bodily sensations. Yet we maintain that this does not preclude mental pleasures and pains from being much more intense than those of the body; since the body can feel only what is present to it at the moment, whereas the mind is also cognizant of the past and of the future. For granting that pain of body is equally painful, yet our sensation of pain can be enormously increased by the belief that some evil of unlimited magnitude and duration threatens to befall us hereafter. And the same consideration may be transferred to pleasure: a pleasure is greater if not accompanied by any apprehension of evil. This therefore clearly appears, that intense mental pleasure or distress contributes more to our happiness or misery than a bodily pleasure or pain of equal duration."
If you are the witness of your best friend is dying a painful death, eating an ice cream cone is not going to be a proper response. Attempting to offset a horrible mental pain with a superficial and fleeting physical pain is not going to be much help, nor does it make any sense in Epicurean theory. The Epicureans knew that mental pains can be much more intense than those of the body, and attempting to offset an intense emotional situation by means of food and drink is not going to work.
What would be a proper Epicurean remedy? Philosophy is not magic, and Intense painful mental feelings can't be waved away with a magic wand, or by appealing to virtue, or to religion. It seems to me that an Epicurean would say that intense painful mental feelings need to be dealt with, to the extent possible, by intense "pleasurable" mental feelings. An opponent of Epicurus like Cicero will make light of that kind of prescription, but someone sympathetic to Epicurus can well imagine that what Epicurus was talking about was calling to mind images of those things that we value so highly that we know the pain we suffer on their account is worthwhile. That's what Epicurus is recorded to have done when he was on the brink of death - he wrote:
"On this blissful day, which is also the last of my life, I write this to you. My continual sufferings from strangury and dysentery are so great that nothing could increase them; but I set above them all the gladness of mind at the memory of our past conversations. But I would have you, as becomes your lifelong attitude to me and to philosophy, watch over the children of Metrodorus."