How to explain Aristophanes' explicit criticism of Socrates activities? And what is the most compelling criticism of socrates that Aristophanes make?
Aristophanes, the Greek Comedian, in his work, the Clouds, basically pokes fun at Socrates for being a philosopher who questions everything and comes to no good conclusions. If you look at the life of Socrates, there is good reason for Aristophanes' comments, since many of Socrates' dialogues end in what the Greek call, aporia, confusion.
Socrates response is simple. He is "wise," because he knows that he is not wise. This is why he talks with so many people to find out what the truth is. However, when he talks to people, he realizes that they really do not know what they are talking about. He keeps asking questions to the point where they usually admit that they do not know anything.
Consider also Socrates' effect on Athenian youth.
An important historical fact is that Aristophanes was significantly older than Plato, and may well be giving us a portrait that in certain ways is more accurate than the Platonic concerning Socrates' middle age. Socrates may well have been interested in natural philosophy as portrayed by Aristophanes. Also, given what we know about many of his pupils, his techniques of clever argument may, like those of Gorgias, been generally put to bad use (cf. Plato Gorgias)